It was a scene that would have been appreciated by the great Rod Serling, and one that might have qualified as a classic Twilight Zone episode. Saddam Hussein, after decades of sentencing innocent people to die by having them handed red cards shortly before executing them, was handed his own red card.

That red card carried a lot of weight, and no amount of Baghdad Bob denial (“there is no rope here, this is an illusion!”) was going to be able to downplay this inevitability: Saddam Hussein, the Butcher of Baghdad, was about to be no more. Military forces had previously applied justice to Hussein’s psychotic sons, Uday and Qusay, by turning them from Iraqi nuts into Swiss cheese, and now it was dear old dad’s turn.

There were some last minute appeals by Hussein’s attorneys — a job second only to “pancake flipper” in its rate of turnover. Saddam’s lawyers made last-ditch-effort appeals to U.S. courts, knowing that if the case got caught up in the American judicial process, their client would die of old age before any sentence was carried out. It wasn’t to be.

It was time. Hussein was led to the gallows. Hussein was placed on the platform and hooded men secured the rope around his neck. As the gallows platform fell, in the blink of an eye, the title of “Saddam Hussein’s number one enemy” was transferred from George W. Bush to Sir Isaac Newton.

The news hit the airwaves just after 10 p.m. eastern time on Friday night, after several hours of analysis of what was happening and why. CNN even dissected what happens to ones body during a hanging (doi!), using skeletal models and “experts,” in a lengthy manner that was more painful than actually being hanged. Some of them seemed to think that hanging is inhumane, sick and wrong, but they didn’t seem to care a lick about the dead horse they were beating.

Many have looked at the war in Iraq and said that attacking the then Hussein controlled nation after 9/11 was like shooting the cat because the dog pooped on the carpet, and that Hussein had nothing to do with the attacks on the United States. Not only that, but some fear Hussein’s execution could spark more violence. A Vatican spokesman said “It might fuel the spirit of revenge and sow seeds of new violence.” I tend to believe the opposite: you can’t get viable seeds from a dead plant.

On all the Hussein execution post-game shows, the debates continued. ”Al Qaeda is no weaker because Saddam Hussein is dead,” I heard a man argue on one of the cable news channels.

It’s barely debatable that Saddam Hussein was a cold-blooded murderer who hated the civilized world and the freedom and justice for which it stands. Now, after Saddam’s hanging, as the gallows creak echoes into the morning breeze like an old sailboat tied to a wooden dock in a lazy bay, let’s not kid ourselves: if circulating the story and pictures of this execution as proof of the just fate that awaits despots and murderous thugs gives just one person a moment of pause – a person who may have otherwise considered himself destined to fill the shoes of Saddam Hussein that are now fluttering three feet off the ground – then yes, terrorism was weakened.

Go to Dearborn, Michigan – which erupted like Paris on Bastille Day – and try telling those Iraqi immigrants and expatriates, many of whom lost loved ones under the iron fist of Saddam Hussein’s regime, that terrorism was not dealt a blow at 6 a.m. Saturday morning in Iraq.

Instead of discussing what wasn’t accomplished by hanging Saddam Hussein, let’s approach the question from a different angle. Exactly how many terrorists, thugs and psychotic murderers out there are at this very second looking at photos of a hanging Hussein, seeing the lifeless mug of The Butcher of Baghdad morph into their own face, and rethinking their lifestyle? If the answer is “only one,” then the execution of Saddam Hussein might have saved countless innocent lives.

It might be hard to tell how many lives have been saved as a result of the capture and ripple deterrent effect of the swift justice brought to Saddam Hussein, because counting those not killed in events that never happened isn’t a quantifiable statistic. What we can do is this — and it might sound silly – but every time nothing happens, remember and appreciate one of the reasons why.

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