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||The War Is Over But Where Is Saddam?
by Steven D. Laib, J.D. M.S.
21 April 2003
While an excellent case
can be made that Saddam’s government was as brutal as Hitler’s, Saddam
gets far more sympathy than Hitler ever did. When critics of his removal
compare President Bush to Hitler, we can see how far this swing in attitude
has gone. All things considered, it is probably best that he is not captured.
seems that the second Persian Gulf War, or whatever we end up calling the
recent conquest of Iraq by Anglo-American coalition forces, and the accompanying
liberation of the Iraqi people from madness of Saddam Hussein is now over.
Many residents of Baghdad have done everything to celebrate except dance
in the streets to “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.” Of course, there aren’t
any Munchkins in Iraq and that may by why. Still, while several high-ranking
officials have been captured and a few including “Chemical Ali” confirmed
killed, the main focus of this military mission has somehow escaped or perhaps
his body has escaped being found. Memories are stirred, by this fact,
of the old stories of how Hitler had escaped to Argentina, later “documented”
by means of blurry photographs on the cover of supermarket tabloids.
We can be sure that if there is no sure confirmation of his death that some
day we will see another blurry picture on the cover of one of these publications
touting that Saddam is living somewhere, but probably not Argentina.
The truth, at least as of this writing, is unknown. We have heard of
the capture of Achille Lauro mastermind Abu Abbas, which is welcome news.
But would we really want to capture Saddam? In 1945 numerous members
of the Nazi ruling clique and their henchmen were captured and then tried
for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Essentially all members
of the news media were in support of this action. The deaths of these
men were welcomed by much of the world, but the world has changed since then
and while an excellent case can be made that Saddam’s government was equally
brutal as Hitler’s, Saddam gets far more sympathy than Hitler ever did.
When critics of his removal compare President Bush to Hitler, we can see
how far this swing in attitude has gone. Facts be damned; it is better
to leave a brutal dictator alone than to free his people to live as we do.
So, what if Saddam were captured. First there would be a verbal dust
up over who should hold him in custody. Certainly American leadership
would want to keep under tight security while a vocal opposition creates
a verbal dust up over why he should be immediately released to the new Iraqi
government. Of course that government is still in the process of formation,
but lets not concentrate on too many details. Next, there would
be many who would push for him to be tried. Others would contest that
by asserting that he was illegally kicked out of office, and should be set
free. Of course, his release would be very unlikely, leading to the
question of qualified judges and/or a jury. A jury trial would be very
unlikely. Still, it would be interesting to see how a jury of Iraqi
citizens who had lost friends and relatives to Saddam’s brutality would react
if given the chance to decide on his guilt or innocence, not to mention his
punishment. But we must also consider that no matter how the court
is comprised, unless Saddam is found “not guilty” accusations will immediately
arise of a kangaroo court. Can we afford that? Probably yes, but would
we want to? Another possibility is that extremists will seize upon
his expected execution as a reason to elevate him to martyr status, touching
off another potential round of terrorist acts; another not so desirable development,
but one which may happen anyway, so perhaps speculation about it is irrelevant.
Of course, as long as Saddam remains missing, no one can really be sure how
Middle Eastern extremists will take it. Some will probably assert that
he is still alive and use it as a sign of Divine favor. This can lead
to more attempts at terrorism. Others will seem him as loser and accept,
for now, that their dreams of military conquest are not possible. The
certainty here is that if Saddam is never found alive, there will be no trial
and no three-ring circus to attend it. NPR will not be privileged to
interview “experts” on whether or not he is getting a fair hearing.
And there will be no Court TV coverage, which is probably a very good thing
after the fiasco of the O.J. Simpson criminal trial.
Many years ago the founder and top man at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation
organization, which had developed some internal problems, found himself arrested
on criminal charges. When officers found him he was purportedly quite
drunk on Chivas Regal scotch, and not totally in control of his faculties.
Not a great position for a man who professed to be engaged in helping others
kick the habit. Somehow it seems just or perhaps proper for Saddam
to be found in a similar state. Maybe cowering in a basement and taking
cyanide at the moment he is caught instead of facing punishment like a man.
Perhaps in a luxury bunker somewhere complete with shag carpeting and other
playboy paraphernalia. Maybe he could end up in an Arabic version of
a bowery flophouse as did Edward G. Robinson in “Little Caesar.” Last,
but not least, he could hide out in the mountain caves of Afghanistan while
running from the law. It would be poetic justice if he and Osama were
to end up as rivals fighting with each other over who was responsible for
ruining the plans for jihad.
All things considered, however, it is probably best that he is not captured.
Maybe the FBI crime lab can rig up a DNA test to “prove” that parts of a
dismembered body from the wreckage of a bombed out building were his.
Of course, if Saddam were still alive, but believed dead this might give
him opportunities for trouble making. We can’t be sure that he has
learned his lesson. But if he does try to return to his old ways if
the powers that be know where he is and how to find him someone could probably
be found to finish him off. Quietly, I hope. After all, those
tabloids can always use more cover story material.
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