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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Junior G Wade Taylor IV (4) covers his face after a missed point during Texas A&Ms game against Arkansas on Feb. 20, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Jaime Rowe/The Battalion)
When it rains, it pours
February 24, 2024
Ali Camarillo (2) waiting to see if he got the out during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Four for four
February 20, 2024
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Dr. Weston Porter (top left) and researchers from the breast cancer lab. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Weston Porter)
New A&M research initiative provides cutting-edge cancer treatments
J.M. Wise, News Reporter • April 8, 2024

It has been 20 months since Michelle Pozzi, Ph.D, of Texas A&M’s Biochemistry and Biophysics department was diagnosed with cancer. However,...

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Light Middleweight boxers Francis Cristal and Frank Chiu throw crosses during Farmers Fight Night on Thursday, April 4th, 2024, at Reed Arena.
‘One day there’s going to be a ring in the middle of Kyle Field’
Zoe May, Editor in Chief • April 11, 2024

“Throw the 1, follow with the 2!” “Keep your hands up!” “Tie him up!” It was the sixth fight of the night. The crowd was either...

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Students, residents commemorates Eid Al-Fitr
Lasan Ukwatta Liyanage, Life & Arts Writer • April 11, 2024

This year's Eid Al-Fitr celebration, hosted by Texas A&M’s Muslim Student Association, or MSA, drew over 1,500 attendees on Wednesday,...

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Student housing located right outside off campus boundaries on George Bush Drive. 
Guest Commentary: An open letter to City Hall
Ben Crockett, Guest Contributor • April 11, 2024

City Council, As representatives of the Texas Aggie Classes of 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027, we write to you today to urge a reconsideration...

Dead man walking?

 
 

The dirty, destroyed man who had his teeth examined on flickering television screens across the world last month was a fallen leader, a shadow of the former dictator whose 40-foot statue U.S. forces toppled last April in Baghdad. The world community has united around a single demand that, although not spurred by sympathy for the heartless U.S.-trained mass murderer, comes from a higher conviction and faith in humanity: No matter what form his trial takes, they ask that Saddam Hussein not be given the death penalty.
This is one area in which world opinion should not be dismissed. All countries have a stake in ensuring humanitarian justice for those who challenge and attempt to subvert the forward march of human progress.
President George W. Bush has said that Iraqis should determine the fate of their deposed leader. Elections are set to take place in July to give the conquered Iraq over to a publicly anointed Iraqi leadership that will draft a new constitution to be approved in 2005 and, if Bush indeed grants Iraqis self-determination, could decide what punishment Saddam should face.
But in an interview with Diane Sawyer in December, Bush indicated his prejudices against a fair trial for the leader he and the past two administrations have been taking aim at. “I think he ought to receive the ultimate penalty,” Bush told Sawyer on Dec. 16. “This is a disgusting tyrant who deserves justice, the ultimate justice.”
Last week, more than 15,000 Shiite Muslims took to the streets in Iraq during two days of protest, waving banners and shouting out a two-fold demand that aligns with Bush’s plan for the Iraqis. The Shiites demanded immediate elections and Saddam’s death. Though the U.S.-led Iraqi
Provisional Council has asked a U.N. team to examine the election demand, the council has said there isn’t enough time to plan elections earlier than July 1.
Saddam and his Sunni-dominated government executed thousands of Shiites, who comprise 60 percent of the nation’s population, during his 35-year regime. Saddam could also face trial for killing up to 100,000 Kurds with chemical and biological weapons in the 1980s, killing Kuwaitis and
Iranians during invasions, ordering the deaths of political opposition leaders and possibly for leading the Iraqi insurgents who have killed hundreds of American troops since Bush declared an end to major combat in May.
Iraq’s courts are operating under a moratorium against the death penalty imposed by the U.S.-led council last fall. But the moratorium could be lifted after the election of a new Iraqi leadership, clearing the way for a trial and the possibility of Saddam’s death in Iraq, which explains Bush’s support for an Iraqi solution to the Saddam question. Though the United States could claim some form of universal jurisdiction reserved for those accused of genocide, so far the Iraqi courts seem the only viable way to see Saddam put to death for his crimes.
The question has become one of what the Iraqis, who have been unable to express their will since the 1960s, might do if the trial is delegated to them. But the president’s mindset on how best to convict and kill Saddam raises alarms in the minds of human rights activists and peace-loving leaders around the world.
Other world leaders disagree that “the ultimate penalty” is also “the ultimate justice.” The Nuremberg trials that brought a coalition of countries together in post-World War II times to try a sea of Nazi war criminals wouldn’t happen today. Most U.S. allies, including Great Britain, have domestic laws prohibiting the death penalty, and most world leaders would face a firestorm of opposition for getting involved in a trial.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has already faced political pressure for his support of death for Saddam. Coalition ally British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office fielded his country’s domestic legal rejection of the death penalty, saying Britain would accept death only if the Iraqis chose it.
Suddenly turning democratic, the coalition forces responsible for the invasion of Iraq now have fresh incentive to return the country to its people.
Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, said the world body opposes the death penalty, calling for the United States to respect international humanitarian law. Annan has precluded the United Nation’s involvement in a trial for Saddam unless the death penalty is prohibited. Most world leaders have expressed support for that form of trial, which has been used in trials against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Rwandan war criminals.
Milosevic – as well known as Saddam for his genocidal leadership – is on trial for crimes against humanity in Croatia and Kosovo and genocide in Bosnia, yet he won’t face the death penalty in world court. Bush should take a page from the world’s book of justice.
European Union leaders have aligned themselves with the United Nations on the question of Saddam, vividly expressing their views against the willful destruction of a human life. Trying Saddam with no death penalty would “demonstrate the contrast to the dictator’s system,” Germany’s top human rights official Claudia Roth told the newspaper Bild.
The Saddam question has brought the controversial issue to a head. The world wants a trial that it says would only be fair with no possibility of death, and Bush, the leader of a country ready to exercise its will, is seeking death in an Iraqi court system. If the United States ignores world opinion on this matter, as it has proven in the past that it needs no “permission slip” from the world, Saddam could face death despite disapproval from the United Nations, the Vatican and coalition allies.
For humanitarians, though, a new hope of seeing Iraq finally returned to self-rule springs out of the conflict, though most object at heart to killing the country’s former dictator, following the rest of the world’s views on justice. One British newspaper, the left-leaning Guardian, captured the spirit of world resistance to the death penalty for Saddam in its editorial pages: “The last thing Iraq needs is another corpse – or another martyr.”
But the carrot – the possible death sentence Saddam could face at an Iraqi trial hinging on the need for Iraqi elections – could end up being the stick that forces the American occupation to grind to a halt in favor of a newly-empowered Iraqi electorate.

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