So the Butcher of Baghdad is dead - executed secretly this morning in a desperate rush to get him out of the way before he could tell the world about how the Americans backed his campaign of genocide against the Kurds. But now what? This isn't a bad fantasy novel, where everything is instantly better and the sun comes out the moment the Dark Lord is dead. Saddam's judicial murder will not end the insurgency in Iraq. It will not stop the deaths of more Iraqi civilians or US troops. Instead, it will simply add another body to Bush's pyramid of skulls, a pyramid which is more than high enough already.
Neither is this justice. He may have been guilty - though given the judicial standards displayed at his trial, this is more by accident than the result of any reliable judicial process - but not even Saddam deserved the death penalty. Instead, what happened today was a barbaric act of revenge, a state-sanctioned murder, morally no different from those inflicted by Saddam on his hapless victims at Dujail. Its only purpose was to bring the satisfaction of revenge. That is not justice; it is sadism, and those approving of it are displaying the ethics of kitten-strangling psychopaths rather than civilised human beings.
It is typical that Bush has called this "an important milestone" for Iraq. And it makes you wonder what the hell they use for road markers in Texas.