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An Ace in the Hole
by Michael Nevin, Jr.
16 December 2003

Those who elected to oppose the war effort for financial or political reasons have become irrelevant, and an Ace in the hole didn’t help their hand.


On Saturday, December 13th U.S. forces launched Operation Red Dawn near the town of Adwar in central Iraq.  Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division uncovered a “spider hole” containing the most wanted man in Iraq: Saddam Hussein, or if you prefer, the “Ace of Spades.”  Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of the operation, said, “He was just caught like a rat.”

It was a fitting capture for the most notorious murderer in a region of the world filled with infamous thugs.  Hussein proved to the world and his supporters that he was not the valiant man portrayed on Al-Jazeera.  The same man who paid the families of suicide bombers in Israel could not muster the nerve to use the pistol found on his lap.  The disheveled, humiliated and former “Butcher of Baghdad” was checked for lice and had a tongue depressor lodged in his throat.  I’ve seen better hygiene from bums sleeping on Market St. in San Francisco compared with what I witnessed on news footage.  Those images struck fear in the hearts of every despot from Damascus to Pyongyang.

To be sure, there are also uneasy stomachs in both Russia and France.  These major appeasers and defenders of the Hussein regime had much to lose from his downfall in the form of billions in both trade and debt owed to them.  Tension mounts for our “allies” as it seems entirely possible that Hussein may actually say where those weapons went, how he financed the proliferation, and from whom he purchased the materials.  As interrogations proceed, those with dirty hands will face sleepless nights.  The duplicity of many countries that opposed the war has been well documented, and Hussein may provide answers and information which could forever change world power.  Americans will not soon forgive the mistakes of greed or outright aggressive action that threatened our troops.  Alliances will shift as the day of reckoning approaches.

The decision not to allow countries opposed to the war to bid on reconstruction contracts has quickly fallen off the headlines of news leads.  The furor over this decision by Russia, France, and Germany reeks of irony.  I’m reminded of the quote—“To the victor goes the spoils.”  The fact that the appeasers have the gumption to expect anything is laughable.  Albeit the reality is that as subcontractors many companies from those countries will be involved in the rebuilding effort, but complaining is something they have mastered.

On the home front, Howard Dean and the chorus of Bush bashers appear to be losers as well.  Presidential candidate Dean will undoubtedly lose steam in the aftermath of the Hussein capture.  His antiwar rhetoric will still be popular in Paris, but those votes of confidence will not help him back home in America.  Howard Dean recently said, “Mr. President, if you’ll pardon me, I’ll teach you a little about defense.”  This is the same Howard Dean who was not fit for military service during the Vietnam War because of a back condition.  While the condition earned him a draft deferment, it didn’t prevent him from heading to Colorado where he skied and poured concrete after his Yale graduation.  Can you imagine getting lessons on national defense from Howard Dean?  His knowledge on the subject could fit on an index card. 

Howard Dean and his antiwar friends are surely not liberal in the classic definition.  Iraq represents a great example of a fledgling, liberal democracy taking root.  Howard Dean and other American “liberals” chose to sit on the sidelines for purely political reasons.  They do not support the representative democracy and progressive reforms now taking shape in a country formerly ruled by a totalitarian dictator.  I will never refer to the Left in America as liberal again.  

The torture chambers and mass graves represent some of the worst crimes against humanity ever revealed.  America was right to address a threat while at the same time liberating millions of Iraqis.  Those who elected to oppose the effort for financial or political reasons have become irrelevant, and an Ace in the hole didn’t help their hand.

Michael Nevin is a California law enforcement officer.

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