Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam: One Who Confronts

Saddam – One Who Confronts

In the United States, we take years to deal with the baddest of the bad – the appeals, the solitary confinement at SuperMax in Colorado, the death row in Terra Haute, Indiana. Fortunately, with Saddam Hussein, 69 (a senior citizen, no less), once he was released from U,S. military authority, the end came quickly. Hang ‘em High, a 1968 movie title reads. The New York Daily News says “Saddam Swings.” The Washington Times reads “Saddam pays at the end of a rope.” This was what they called Kansas justice in the 50s, and the news reports play like the last scene of the film Infamous. Truman Capote should have covered it.

Is seems awful to some people to gloat over this, but Saddam is certainly one of the three most wanted men in the world. The other two are Osama bin Ladem and Kim Jong-il. Saddam will join the ranks of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot. Just before the Kuwait invasion, he had been called “the most dangerous man in the World.” No longer. Ne plus.

Nevertheless, his acts defined much of our time and our awareness of things. A lot of us were shocked when he invaded Kuwait around Aug. 1, 1990. For all the fervor of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, we scarcely imagined then where it could lead, even as the military victory came so quickly by February 28, 1991.

For one thing, it would be some years before we grasped the resentment caused in fundamentalist Islam about our presence in their lands, and about the snubbing of the warrior Osama bin Laden, whose place in ridding of Afghanistan of Soviet occupation would prove a paradox: it would pave the way for the Taliban and his own attacks against us, but it might have contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Persian Gulf War would also help set in motion the debate over gays in the military, and the explosion of the issue at the beginning of President Clinton’s presidency. For when the Army needs men, it really needs them. Forget the small stuff.

Of course, the main controversy now is over WMDs. Why did Colin Powell present the case for Saddam’s WMD’s before the UN in Feburary 2003, for us only to find soon that he did no have them? Or does he? Did he hide them in Syria? What was really going on? Scott Ritter had warned us in his documentary film In Shifting Sands that Saddam could be playing possum, and that he could try to stalemate us, just as in a chess King and Pawn ending. Yet, in the days following 9/11 and in the middle of the anthrax attacks, rumors about Iraqi involvement abounded. Is the enemy of my friend another enemy? Not always. The world has developed complex patterns of bedfellows. My own suspicion, however, is that we have not seen the last on the debate on WMD’s and Iraq. For one thing, the northern area (Kurdistan) is part of the ideal route for smuggling materials from the former Soviet Union.

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