"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

A Little Is Enough

Reflecting on the man's hanging, and the current mess the U.S. and Iraq are in, I'm recalling Philip Greenspun's controversial blog post from 2003...

By the standards of wealthy Western countries Saddam’s regime was harsh. They tortured and/or killed political opponents. They controlled the press, the mosques, and the schools. If a town were restive they might kill its entire population or at least many hundreds of people from that town. This would seem like gratuitous cruelty if done by the governments of Vermont, Dijon, or Bavaria. But in the Arab world more or less every government employs the same tactics as Saddam’s Iraq.

In fairness to the defeated dare we ask whether Saddam’s regime wasn’t employing the minimum amount of violence necessary to maintain public order in Iraq? It seems quite possible that Saddam did not enjoy terrorizing his subjects but did it because he understood the divisions within his arbitrarily drawn borders and thought keeping his subjects in fear was necessary...

We haven’t figured out what level of governmental coercion will result in an Iraqi society that is both orderly and submissive to a U.S. occupation or whatever American-friendly government follows. Saddam may yet go down in history as the kindest and gentlest 21st century leader of a unified and stable Iraq.

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.