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Turning on the lights

By Jackson Murphy
web posted December 15, 2003

The best news in Iraq since the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein came this week with the capture of the actual dictator. The once proud and defiant Iraqi leader was taken without a single shot being fired, found in a small hole in the ground, and looking according to one official like "a homeless man at a bus station."

Another official added, "Have we actually cut the head of the snake or is he just an idiot hiding in a hole?" It is difficult to know at this point whether or not how much impact this will have on the fighting in Iraq. It certainly won't dry up the opposition over night. But surely it deals a tremendous blow to anyone who sided with Saddam and other terrorists or tyrants throughout the region.

It's been a rough couple of months for Saddam
It's been a rough couple of months for Saddam

"He wasn't deposed by Arabs; he didn't put up a fight; he is no martyr either - just a coward in a miserable little hole," writes Andrew Sullivan. "The point of this is not to humiliate Arabs, of course. But it is to attempt to break the mass delusions that have both kept other dictators in power and prevented progress in the Arab world. Taking Saddam alive - and giving him all the dignity of a bedraggled hobo - is about as big a propaganda victory as the forces against terror can hope to accomplish."

The reaction by many in Iraq was a combination of utter jubilation and new resolve. "Now is the time to unleash the Iraqi Counter Terror; now is the time to go for the kill," writes Alaa on his "The Mesopotamian" weblog. "Let us go after them. Don't lose this moment. They want to recant and live in equality with the people? They have a chance - otherwise they will have to go. I am too overwhelmed with emotion to write coherently; please excuse me. The foul mouths of the enemies of our people everywhere and the neighboring vultures and hyenas be stuffed with dirt; we will come after you; your time will come."

"Long live the great alliance of Mesopotamia and the United States of America and her allies. Now is the time, now is the time; Do not delay; unleash the Counter Terror. God Bless Iraq; God Bless America; God bless the Allies."

Those who fail to see the connections between Iraq and the greater war on terror will have trouble understanding how important this is. Finding Saddam, alive, and not fighting to his last breath is a wonderfully huge blow in this war. The hangovers of failed events like Somalia are finally over, and better, one of the biggest problems in the region is exposed as the hypocritical fraud he always was.

But this is no time to rest and certainly no time to stop. For the people of Iraq, and elsewhere, this is an opportunity to really expose the web of lies that have perpetuated people like Saddam and Osama bin Laden. Saddam has basically cut and run from his own war and yet it is the coalition, which continues to fight on. That difference between the two sides is becoming more and more evident. While the terrorists hide in caves our soldiers are going from house to house, cave to cave, cell to cell and slowly but surely we are gaining the upper hand.

Lee Harris, writing in Tech Central Station, reports on just how important this was. "We took Saddam Hussein alive, and, in doing this, we have done a great deal more than simply knock down a statue of a dictator -- we have vanquished a collective nightmare. We have turned the light on a bogey-man, and revealed him to be a broken old man, hiding fearfully in a six by eight hole."

There were plenty of talking points by those hoping to challenge President Bush in next year's election today. Some candidates such as Joe Lieberman absolutely "get" the significance of the day. Others, like Howard Dean suggested that, "This development provides an enormous opportunity to set a new course and take the American label off the war. We must do everything possible to bring the UN, NATO, and other members of the international community back into this effort."

The problem with this logic is that many members of NATO and certainly large numbers of UN members still can't see what was exposed today. It is still an American label, and quite frankly the 'Made in the USA' mark is the best hope in winning this war.

It is still early in the conflict but this capture will do more for turning the lights on in the Middle East than the UN ever has or will. The more lights we shine on the many other current cockroach regimes in this region the better chance that the people there can go about their lives in peace and freedom. There is a long way to go, but the capture of Saddam Hussein closes the book on one of the most evil tyrants in history. Good riddance.

Jackson Murphy is a commentator from Vancouver, Canada. He is a senior writer at Enter Stage Right and the editor of "Dispatches" a website that serves up political commentary 24-7.

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