Against the urgings of the European Union's foreign ministers, and disapproval of human rights groups, Iraq reinstated capital punishment on Sunday. The penalty had been suspended during the formal occupation, but was brought back as "part of a carrot-and-stick approach by the government to try to put down the 15-month-old insurgency." The carrot, offered on Saturday, was amnesty for minor crimes and did not lead to much repentance. The list of capital crimes is somewhat vaguely worded, but appears to be a fraction of the tally under Saddam Hussein, who frequently killed nonviolent dissidents.
While I don't approve of the death penalty, I can see why some people would consider it appropriate for murderers, rapists, kidnappers and those who endanger national security. But I am puzzled that drug dealers are also subject to execution. Is illegal narcotics trafficking that much of a threat to the new Iraq, as a government or as a society? Or is this simply a bow to the U.S. war on drugs and the Islamic prohibition on them?