Saddam as a Lab Rat?

By Anthony | January 7th, 2007 | 9:59 pm

First of all, let it be known that I’m pretty much ok with the fact that Saddam was executed. If anyone deserved it, he certainly did. However, Richard Dawkins brings up an interesting point: By executing Saddam we have lost the chance to study him and learn from him.

Imagine, in fancy, that some science fiction equivalent of Simon Wiesenthal built a time machine, travelled back to 1945 and returned to the present with a manacled Adolf Hitler. What should we do with him? Execute him? No, a thousand times no. Historians squabbling over exactly what happened in the Third Reich and the Second World War would never forgive us for destroying the central witness to all the inside stories, and one of the pivotal influences on twentieth century history. Psychologists, struggling to understand how an individual human being could be so evil and so devastatingly effective at persuading others to join him, would give their eye teeth for such a rich research subject. Kill Hitler? You would have to be mad to do so. Yet that is undoubtedly what we would have done if he hadn’t killed himself in 1945. Saddam Hussein is not in the same league as Hitler but, nevertheless, in a small way his execution represents a wanton and vandalistic destruction of important research data.

I’m not sure how far such arguments can swing the pendulum in favor of not executing someone, but it’s certainly something worth thinking about.

3 Responses to “Saddam as a Lab Rat?”

  1. sean coon Says:

    perform a 20 minute search on google for anything to do with post-war nazi’s and the cia and our government; we not only studied them, but employed their techniques — from propaganda to torture — and actual former nazis themselves, all over the world in various capacities.

    we learned too much from the nazi’s… dawkins obviously doesn’t know much about world history.

  2. Joe Killian Says:

    I actually think Dawkins has a point here. While I think there’s a lot we do know about the Nazis and many of them certainly went on beyond the fall there’s a lot (about Hitler and the Nazis, but certainly about the man psychologically) about which we can only speculate. In that sense I think he would have been of more use to society alive than dead.

    The little we’ve been able to glean from various serial killers before we put them to death or they’re killed in prison has lead us to be able to create psychological profiles that aid in the capture of future serial killers. It’s not a direct analogy, but I think if we’re to continue having homicidal despotic leaders of nations (and we are) we’d get more out of understanding them once they’ve been captured than executing them.

  3. Brenda Bowers Says:

    Mr. Coon there are times when one must fight fire with fire. I will not stand up and defend everything our nation has done but if it wasn’t for the United States standing between the word and tyrants during the past 100 years then tyrants would be ruling the world today. I believe Sir it is you who needs a lesson in world history. And, you might start with Napoleon; if he had been executed when he was finally defeated instead of just imprisoned then there would have been no Waterloo.

    I agree with much of what Mr. Killian says since we have learned much b y psychological profiling that has helped greatly to solve crimes perpetrated by psychopaths, however in the case of Saddam I believe the analogy I mentioned to Mr. Coon applies. If not executed Saddam’s supporters would never have given up and eventually he would have “escaped� and been back in power with a blood bath like one we hadn’t yet seen. The only way this “escape� turn to power could have been avoided is if he had been brought back to the United States for incarceration. And of course that would not have been feasible since world opinion insisted he was the Iraqi people’s prisoner. Also if we had him in this country we would have been inviting many more attacks on our soil. The United States could so easily be turned into an Israel with suicide bombings all over the place. There is really no way to protect against this sort of terrorism unless you are willing to have a total police state which we would not tolerate (especially those who are yelling the loudest about American so-called dirty tactics and prisoners rights and all that malarkey!) In short, Saddam had to be executed and all his henchmen with him. Brenda Bowers