CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Look, the carrying out of this sentence was an act of justice. There’s nobody on the planet of six billion people who tortured and killed more people than Saddam, and it’s quite a distinction to be the preeminent monster of your time. The problem was the haste and the stealth and the way in which it was carried out which has helped to enrage the Sunnis.
JEFF BIRNBAUM: I think we have to worry how great and vast that Sunni reaction is. We are now getting reports from Iraq that Sunnis are protesting in large numbers. We don’t know exactly how large. But they are reacting to those video clips being put on television, which do show Saddam being taunted right before his death. [The U.S.] actually had to insist that there was more dignity in the burial of Saddam Hussein, that is, the U.S. had to insist than the government wanted to. And all of these things, I think, do not bode well in a place where there is sectarian violence, and that may be the central problem of the country.
FRED BARNES: I think they don’t bode well, but they don’t matter. What mattered is was Saddam had to be killed, had to be executed, it was justice, as Charles said, and I think the sooner the better. . . .
And I don’t think, and we see it in the media, in particular, that the Sunnis should be treated as some abused minority. They have accepted no guilt, no responsibility for Saddam’s crimes . . . They have mounted the insurgency, and those who weren’t a part of it allowed it. They provided the ocean that allowed these insurgents to swim in. . . .
I’m not worried about harmony. What I’m worried about is crushing the Sunni insurgency, because nothing good can happen until then. There’s no offer that can be made that somebody can accept. First you have to have security. You can’t have this level of violence there caused mostly by the Sunni insurgency. They’re the ones who are carrying out all the suicide bombings, and they can get mad about it because they think it wasn’t a dignified execution, I say so what.
KRAUTHAMMER: But the way to defeat it is to win over the clan leaders in the Sunni leaders. . . . And they will not come over to a government which is acting on behalf of Shiites.
BARNES: They won’t come over to a government as long as they think the insurgency may prevail, and that’s up in the air.