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Can Saddam Save Us

Saddam Hussein. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by William S. Lind
UPI Commentator
Washington (UPI) Nov 10, 2006
An Iraqi court has found Saddam Hussein guilty and sentenced him to death. The fact that the court was the creature of a foreign power and that the proceedings reeked of a Stalinist show trial do not affect the justice of the verdict. Saddam is guilty as sin. Of what is he guilty? Saddam Hussein is guilty of governing Iraq.

The specific charges against him -- murders, massacres, wholesale slaughters and more -- are subsets of the main charge. All these vicious crimes, and more, are what it takes to govern Iraq.

Like most of the world, Iraq has two possible states: tyranny and anarchy. You can have the one, or the other, but nothing in between. Of the two, for both Iraqis and the world, tyranny is vastly preferable.

The Nov. 6 Washington Post quotes an Iraqi Sunni as saying, "Saddam was accused of killing 148 people. Now, more than 148 innocent people are getting killed in Iraq every day."

Saddam's Iraq was a bitter enemy of al-Qaida. Thanks to U.S. President George W. Bush's discovery of Woodrow Wilson's passion for "Democracy" around the world, Iraq is now al-Qaida's biggest success story, not to mention recruiting ground.

With even the Bush White House giving up on "staying the course" in Iraq, the question becomes, how might we walk this dog back? The first course correction must be in our objective. Instead of trying to bring democracy to Iraq, our directing strategic question should be, how can we restore tyranny in place of the current anarchy?

An obvious first step is to replace the current "democratic government" in Baghdad -- the "government" of a non-existent state -- with a new dictator. Some voices in Washington are quietly suggesting we will soon do this. An occupying power should be able to stage a coup d'etat, even if it cannot maintain order in the streets.

Then comes a hard question: should the new Iraqi dictator be Sunni or Shiite? In answer, we need to realize that in Iraq, as in Afghanistan, we have gotten ourselves on the wrong side in a civil war. But while that is true locally in Afghanistan -- we are allied with the Tajiks and the Uzbeks against the Pashtun, and the Pashtun always win -- it is true regionally in Iraq.

While Shiites are a majority in Iraq, they are a minority in the Islamic world. The countries that are key to American interests in the region --Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia -- are majority Sunni and are governed by Sunni regimes. The leading Shiite power in the region, Iran, is our principal local opponent, and thus far a great beneficiary of our invasion of Iraq. Strategically, the new dictator we install should be a Sunni.

One can add a few more credentials. The new dictator, if he is to have legitimacy, must be an opponent of the American occupation. Ideally, he should be someone who has suffered personally at the hands of the Americans. He should be able to turn off the Sunni insurgency, to facilitate an American exit. He should be able to call an effective army to the colors quickly, to prevail in the Sunni-Shiite civil war that is already underway and will intensify rapidly if briefly once a Sunni is put back in power. He should be someone who knows how to make Iraq work, as well as Arab states do work. Of course, he should have no qualms at inflicting the utmost brutality on his own people, since that is what governing Iraq requires.

Fortunately, we have just such a man at hand. He's tanned, rested and ready. A quick extraction by Delta Force and presto!, Saddam Hussein can be president of Iraq once more.

It should take about 48 hours for the Baathists to slit the throat of every al-Qaida operative in the country. Saddam will, I'm sure, be gracious in victory, allowing us to withdraw our beaten army gracefully. Unlike the current Iraqi government, I doubt he will ally with the Iranians, who will have tasted their victory turn to ashes in their mouths.

Yes, I know, it's a winter night's dream. Monarchies can pull off such dramatic reversals, while republics must wallow endlessly in their blunders, their puny "leaders" too terrified of uncomprehending publics to escape the mire.

One understands why, according to the Washington Times, as the former president of Iraq was led from the courtroom, sentenced to death, "There was a hint of a smile on Saddam's face."

earlier related report
The Republican Deadline In Iraq
by MARK N. KATZ - UPI Commentator Washington (UPI) Nov. 10 - The American public's growing unhappiness with the war in Iraq played a large role in the November 2006 elections that resulted in the Democrats retaking control of both the House and the Senate. The lesson for the Republicans is clear: If American forces are still bogged down in Iraq two years from now, the Democrats are highly likely to win the presidential elections as well as strengthen their control over both houses of Congress.

If the Republicans are to have a fighting chance of keeping the presidency and retaking control of the closely divided Senate (their retaking the House will be much more difficult), American forces have to be out of Iraq or clearly on the way out -- whether or not "victory" has been achieved. And it seems highly unlikely that America can achieve that victory.

The Republicans now have two choices. One is to announce and begin the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq sufficiently in advance of the 2008 elections in order to have a chance to retain the White House and possibly retake the Senate. The disadvantage of this strategy is that while it might work for the 2008 elections, if conditions then deteriorate in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East -- as they are highly likely to do -- the American public might later blame the Republicans both for getting America into Iraq and for the consequences of getting out of it.

The second strategy is to "stay the course," see the Democrats add control of the White House to their control of Congress in 2008, and let the Democrats preside over the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. The Republicans can then blame the Democrats' withdrawal of American forces from Iraq for the deteriorating circumstances in Iraq and the Middle East that arise afterward.

This is undoubtedly a cynical strategy. It is also a risky one: Instead of blaming the Democrats for the deterioration of conditions in the Middle East following a withdrawal from Iraq that they presided over, the American public might blame the Republicans for this state of affairs since they were the ones that got the United States into Iraq in the first place. The Democrats will energetically encourage this point of view.

This second strategy, though, may be the one that Republicans are stuck with since President Bush has repeatedly stated that American forces will not leave Iraq until victory has been achieved. He may yet change course, but so far he seems determined to pursue victory in Iraq no matter how unfeasible this now is or what the political cost to the Republicans will be.

If this is the position that President Bush sticks to, then the only hope for other Republican politicians may be to steal the Democrats' thunder by repudiating him themselves and nominating a Republican presidential candidate who promises to withdraw American forces from Iraq. Obviously, this is not something Republican politicians will want to do. But if it comes down to a choice between sticking with President Bush on the one hand and electoral victory in 2008 on the other, the latter option will undoubtedly prove more appealing. Indeed, Republican politicians can blame President Bush for forcing them to make this choice.

As the 2006 elections showed, claiming that America is achieving victory in Iraq when it clearly is not will be a recipe for failure in the 2008 elections. The Republicans don't have all that long to come up with a recipe either.

earlier related report
Britain slams US for failing to provide witnesses to military deaths
London (AFP) Nov 11 - Britain is hoping to persuade the United States to rectify its "unacceptable" refusal to send experts to give evidence at coroner's inquests into British troop deaths in Iraq, a senior minister said. Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman said she was seeking a meeting with senior US officials to persuade them to provide live testimony to help families understand better how their loved ones died.

The issue has come to the fore following repeated remarks by a coroner about the US military's unwillingness to co-operate with inquests here, which are required in law when a British citizen dies abroad and the body is repatriated.

Andrew Walker last month publicly blamed US Marines for the unlawful killing of a British journalist, his Lebanese interpreter and French cameraman in Iraq in 2003 and would try to ensure they were prosecuted.

Terry Lloyd, Hussein Osman and Fred Nerac were shot near the southern city of Basra two days into the US-led invasion, but none of those involved in the shooting gave evidence.

Walker reiterated his complaint at the inquest into the deaths on the same day of two British Royal Air Force personnel who were shot down by a US Patriot missile as they approached an air base in Kuwait following a sortie in Iraq.

Harman told ITV1 television in an interview to be broadcast Sunday that to deny grieving families the chance to know what happened was unacceptable.

"If our service people have died in Iraq, the very least we can do is to make sure there is a proper inquest, so their families can understand the truth of the situation of how their loved ones died," she said.

"We need those American service people and experts to be in the coroner's court in order to give an account of the situation.

"When they don't come that's not acceptable and we are prepared to say that's not acceptable."

Britain, which still has about 7,000 troops mainly in southern Iraq, has suffered 121 military fatalities since the start of the conflict.

(William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.)

(Mark N. Katz is a professor of government and politics at George Mason University.)

Source: United Press International

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Tel Aviv (UPI) Nov 10, 2006
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will probe the likelihood of the United States providing a nuclear umbrella against Iranian nuclear threats when he meets President Bush in Washington next Monday. Yediot Aharonot Friday quoted sources close to Olmert as saying he "expects to hear" such a promise from Bush. A senior Israeli official said this week he was sure Iran's long-term aim is to destroy Israel and possibly control Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

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