December 15, 2003
Amazing! A few days ago our military flushed from hiding and captured the former head of state of Iraq, a despicable and ruthless killer, and past oppressor of millions. We then bungled the media presentation of it. It isn't as if we lacked time to prepare for this outcome or rehearse for this event, nor was it any surprise. This Saddam fellow was, after all, the ace of spades in the picture deck of the most wanted members of the former Iraqi regime. Yet, when Ambassador Bremer appeared on international TV to announce the capture, his first words were, "We got 'em!" No surprise I suppose that Bremer should echo the tone and sentiment of his boss, who has repeatedly portrayed the unprecedented Iraq War as if it were a Class B Western movie plot. One would have thought we had seen the last of that kind of foreign policy management when Ronald Reagan left office.
It is not the inappropriate handling of the capture of Saddam that is most distressing, or even the scenes of his "examination" by some unseen captor in plastic gloves who sticks something in the mouth of this dazed and disheveled man after probing his hair for lice.
Even though these are clear violations of the Geneva Accords, the very invasion of Iraq in the face of UN opposition revealed the contempt of the current administration for international law, as did the spineless rubber stamping of these acts by a cowed Congress. What should trouble us all is the number of recruits and potential al-Qaida supporters we created by this unnecessary portrayal of Saddam. Granted there are few Iraqis and few folk in the neighboring countries who are ignorant of the crimes committed by the brutal Saddam regime, but to many in more distant parts (e.g. Pakistan, Malaysia, Afghanistan) Saddam was a symbol of an Islamic leader who had stood up to the West, and to the US in particular.
Almost anything would have been better. Maybe I am just old fashioned, but the Crusaders of an earlier century would have beheaded Saddam, stuck his head on a pike, and had it carried about Baghdad to persuade the populace that he was no longer a threat. It may even have influenced some of his former supporters to cease blowing up our troops.
So, ask yourself how you would have reacted to scenes on the Six O'clock News of one of the many brutal South American dictators we have supported shown dirty and unshaven with an Islamic Extremist poking fingers in his body cavities. It took a lot less provocation than that about a century ago for hundreds of Americans to take up arms and join the Lafayette Escadrille to fight (and over 60 of them to die) in the skies over France, long before this Country entered World War I formally. Pardon me a minute, boys, while I shoot myself in the foot.
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