Sunday, December 14, 2003

What a maroon!

"Man, that Saddam sure wasn't the brightest kid on the block, was he? He couldn't even be counted on to not get caught until after the elections next November! Now how can we Democrats possibly beat Bush? AGGHHH!"

Yeah, that sounds ridiculous, but I'd bet money that before the end of the day some far-right-wing blogger -- maybe that Misha fellow, or this Yoshida bloke I'm hearing about -- will post something ascribing that basic set of beliefs to Democrats in general. And I'd further bet that before long after that, Glenn Reynolds will approvingly link it.

For this liberal Democrat, let me say this: I am thrilled that Saddam has been captured!

This is unquestionably good news, and I hope it does pave the way toward a more effective quelling of the insurgencies, although I do expect the attacks to actually spike a bit, because the insurgents still loyal to Saddam will want to "carry on the good fight" while those insurgent groups who are not Saddam loyalists will see this as a chance to move into the resulting power vaccuum. (Whether or not there actually is one to move into, that is. Such people tend to see what they want to see.) The capture of Saddam Hussein will not suddenly make that country a safer place, and Iraq is going to be "page one" news for quite some time to come. There will be more attacks on US troops, and the pitfalls to "nation building" there loom as large as ever. This turn of events does not assuage my more general misgivings about how things are being done over there. But make no mistake: it is a very welcome step, and I salute everyone involved in the operation that led to Saddam's capture. I listened to a briefing on NPR this morning, and they didn't just blunder onto him: this was the result of extensive intelligence work combined with some pretty impressive powers of observation on the part of whatever soldier or soldiers actually spotted the concealed entrance to the "spider hole". Great job, guys. Really and truly.

It is also good that Saddam was captured alive. Frankly I'm astonished at this. I can't believe he didn't have a loaded pistol on him with which he would pull his own plug, or even a cyanide capsule. I would think that he would have preferred martyrdom to fairly meek capture. But meek capture is what he got, and now there is a video of him being treated humanely by American captors with the prospect of a trial down the road. This should play well (also according to a military expert I heard on NPR earlier) because it dampens the "revenge" aspect of Arabic culture. I'm not sure why he wouldn't have simply made sure he had the means to kill himself rather than get captured. The only explanation I can come up with is that Saddam Hussein is, quite simply, a coward.

(And as I write this, I've just loaded up SDB and I see that he has roughly the same take on Saddam's failure to commit suicide as mine. I do have to take issue with SDB's side-swipe at Amnesty International's position on the Iraqi Tribunal, though -- it seems to me AI is being perfectly consistent here, since it has, to my knowledge, always been a staunch anti-death penalty organization. But then, even I, a guy who's pretty staunchly anti-capital punishment myself, concede that "Crimes Against Humanity" probably warrant no other punishment. I certainly wouldn't have spared any of the Nazis at Nuremberg.)

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