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Saddam's capture signifies turning tide
By Carol Devine-Molin
"He was found in a hole; he was living with rats", as aptly stated by a member of the Iraqi Governing Council. Terribly apropos for Saddam Hussein, don't you think?
The Ace of Spades is no longer in the deck. No shots were fired in "Operation Red Dawn" as Saddam Hussein was apprehended by Special Forces working in tandem with about 600 troops from the 4th Infantry Division. Saddam's capture certainly represents wonderful news not only for Iraqis, but for all freedom-loving peoples of the world. And what a morale boost for the brave and indomitable troops serving in Iraq!
From emerging reports, it appears that Saddam Hussein was hidden in a "spider hole" or crawl-space near a farmhouse in Tikrit, a town teaming with Ba'athist loyalists. For all his bravado and violent reputation, Saddam Hussein fully cooperated with those taking him into custody. Perhaps he was stunned and disoriented by his capture, or even relieved that his days-on-the-run were over. The once powerful dictator looked like a disheveled stumble-bum with a scraggly beard and, except for his signature black hair dye, was a mere ghost of his former self. So much for the theory that he was living the good life in Syria, while issuing orders to insurgents (comprised of Ba'athist loyalists and jihadists operating in collusion) from gilded surroundings. Actually, it's nice to know that Saddam has been suffering, given all the misery he has wrought on others.
Saddam might have been surprised that he wasn't killed on the spot by American troops. However, there's good reason to believe he's a wellspring of vital intelligence, particularly if he was directing and financing the terror attacks of the insurgents. And there's more, much more, that we would like to know. Let's hope that Saddam is rather chatty about: a) the fate of the chemical and biological weapons that his regime once possessed, b) the identity and whereabouts of the insurgents and their planned terror assaults, and, c) even the location of Osama bin Laden if he's not already dead. Rumor has it that the upper echelon of the al-Qaida organization has been holed up in neighboring Iran for quite some time. You never know – maybe Saddam can be persuaded to spill the beans on these and other salient subject matter such as his regime's entanglement with myriad terror groups throughout the years.
Saddam is a typical psychopath with no self-insight and no remorse for his hideous actions. Saddam actually believes he was a "just ruler". Well, we'll see about that in his upcoming public trial for "crimes against humanity", which will examine his history of inflicting chemical warfare and other abominations upon his own people. At least four hundred thousand bodies have been found in Iraqi mass graves to date. And let's not forget Saddam's various war crimes against both the Kuwaitis and the Iranians. But the key point is that the Iraqis no longer have to fear the re-emergence of Saddam Hussein's brutal dictatorship – His stranglehold on Iraq is a thing of the past. In the aftermath of Saddam's arrest, President Bush stated, "The capture of this man was crucial to the rise of a free Iraq. It marks the end of the road for him, and for all who bullied and killed in his name. For the Ba'athist holdouts largely responsible for the current violence, there will be no return to the corrupt power and privilege they once held". In other words, the Iraqis have now been empowered to enact democratic reforms and rebuild their nation without the specter of Saddam Hussein looming. However, President Bush warns Americans that despite Saddam's imprisonment, we can expect continued terror attacks upon our troops in Iraq.
Saddam's capture certainly represents a major success, maybe even a psychological tipping point in this fight in Iraq. That being said, Saddam's arrest was the first good news from Iraq in quite some time – we were being fed a steady diet of troop casualties by the mainstream press during the past few months. However, here's the really interesting change that transpired between September and December 2003 – The American public developed a more favorable view of the fight in Iraq despite the harsher news emanating from that war zone.
Clearly, the latest Gallop poll reflects increasing public support for the war in Iraq among Americans, which was conducted before Saddam was captured. In the December 5-7 survey, "59 per cent of Americans say the situation with Iraq was worth going to war over", which was up 9 per cent from September. Statistically, that's significant. On the surface, this turning tide appears curious, given the rising death toll among our troops. And even Iraq's civil administrator Paul Bremer indicated that we should expect an increasing number of attacks, not less, in the immediate future. As Bremer told the New York Times last week, "It's a question that really ought to be asked in six months, when we get through this very important crucial period and we see where we are…My own guess is we're going to have an increase in violence over the next six months."
Well what's occurring, what's causing this morphing synergy among the American public regarding Iraq – For one thing, the military campaign in Iraq is now being largely accepted as part of the global war on terror. And, I think it's evident that the administration's message about the nature of terrorism is now resonating more thoroughly. As Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has explained many times, the nature of terrorism is that the attacks are unexpected. Moreover, we cannot defend every place, every time, and against every method of terrorism – Simply put, we are vulnerable. In a free and open society, it's not possible to defend against all terror attacks without radically restructuring the society in a way that is not conducive to freedom. Therefore, we have no other alternative than to bring the war to the terrorists and defeat them on their home turf. We certainly don't want this war fought in the streets of America. And, in essence, this makes sense to the majority of Americans.
Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.
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