But before I come onto that let's look at George Bush's analysis of the event. He described the execution as "an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy" going on to describe the hanging as "the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime."
I find it difficult to express my revulsion at the idea that the execution Saddam has just received is somehow more legitimate than the countless executions he himself ordered. The proceedings were strictly dictated by the US to ensure he was only tried for crimes that showed no complicity of the Western powers. There was no fair trial and then they killed him the way they always intended. He received the same process he gave many others, although he didn't televise his executions.
It's probably stating the obvious to say that Bush has no idea what the word democracy means. It's just a catch all phrase he uses to mean "our side". It's like the way the Americans kicked up such a stink over Iraqi pictures of US servicemen whilst happily publishing pictures of the Iraqi captured and dead. Oh, but of course they're the baddies and we're the goodies, so by definition we can do as we please no matter how evil. Silly me, I forgot.
In absence of any evidence that Bush advocates actual democracy I think we need to decode the phrase to mean "an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a [stable US military airstrip]"Now let's look at the ex-dictator's last 24 hours to see exactly how a democratic civilised nation carries out a death sentence.
First timing. "Having seen the former dictator hanged at dawn on Saturday, Mr al-Maliki was presiding as father of the groom at dusk. In a country where sectarian and tribal hatred runs high, the coincidence added to anger that Saddam was killed during preparations for Eid, a time when pleas for clemency are heard by even the grimmest Muslim dictators... it is a tradition to pardon prisoners or postpone executions until after the feast of sacrifice festival." Of course, when they timed the announcement of his execution to coincide with elections in the US why wouldn't they time the actual event for maximum effect too?
Then there's his treatment the night before his execution. One of guards, who goes by the charming nick name of Ali the Butcher, "intended to make a hell of Saddam's last night on earth" taunting him with the rope. "The guards were dancing in front of him. When Saddam tried to sleep, they were going in, every 30 minutes. They said, 'We didn't let him sleep. We destroyed his personality'." Because killing someone isn't enough it seems.
Saddam was led into the execution chamber with by-standers taunting him, these by-standers were invited by the Iraqi government of whom they said "We don't quite know who was shouting at Saddam or with whom he was exchanging the insults but I do not think it was any members of the government who were doing this" So we're to believe they were just passing and security was so lax they managed to slip in to spontaneously rib the condemned man?
These images were edited out of the official footage but filmed on a camera phone by another attendee. It brings a whole new level to happy slapping really doesn't it? Are we really to believe that there were people present who were not especially invited and the authorities were not able to prevent unauthorised filming? The barbarism is not lessened by the fact that Saddam was equally evil, but it does more and more remind me of the scene in Animal Farm when the Pigs and Farmers sat round the table and the farm animals were unable to tell the difference between them.
Sam Leith in the Telegraph points out the execution "more closely resembled a gang of provos at work in an Armagh back-room than the sober unrolling of a sovereign state's judicial process... The rhetoric of a war launched in the name of civilisation has degenerated into the cackling of a tricoteuse at the foot of the guillotine. We should be bloody ashamed."
We should be in no doubt that this was the West's execution, not Iraq's. The Iraqi President , "Jalal Talabani, a veteran Kurdish opponent of the dictatorship, had refused on principle to sign the death order. Other ministers were opposed on pragmatic grounds that Iraq needs to draw insurgents into the political process if it is going to avert a civil war." Bush was right - the execution will not end the sectarian violence - in fact it can only meaningfully be seen as part of it.
Tariq Ali in the Guardian says "Saddam's lynching might send a shiver through the collective, if artificial, spine of the Arab ruling elites. If Saddam can be hanged, so can Mubarak, the Hashemite joker in Amman and the Saudi royals - as long as those who topple them are happy to play ball with Washington."
Let this be a lesson to all those monsters out there in the pay of the West. Don't step out of line or the noose awaits.