So, Saddam is no more. He’s probably the one person, in all of the world, who can make people against the death penalty go “um….”, due to the sheer magnitude of his crimes, and the obviousness of his guilt.
Now, I would count myself, generally, on the anti-death penalty side. Not so much for the moral reasons (although, as always, 14 years of RC schooling does leave a mark), more for the simple reason that organisations make mistakes. If I don’t trust government when it comes to roads policy, how the hell could I trust them in actual matters of life and death? But neither of those reasons would count against Saddam taking the short-drop/sudden-stop exit from this world.)
So this one isn’t really part of the usual argument about the death penalty. Instead, this comes down to the probable specific effects of the execution.
Will it make things in Iraq any better? Probably not.
Will it makes thing worse? Possibly, but again, probably not.
Does it send out a message to other tyrants in the world? Yes, but it’s not the best message: If you’re an evil dictator unfriendly to the west but easily beaten in battle then you may face justice.
Will it give a sense of closure to the families of many of his victims, and remove a cold-hearted murdering bastard from the world? Yes.
And is there any real downside to it? Who will speak up in his defence, who will mourn him other than his partners in crime?