Posted: 01/05/07 13:47, Edited: 05/26/13 11:25
By Christopher Truscott
President George W. Bush told reporters Thursday he wishes Saddam Hussein's execution had "gone in a more dignified way," but still declared a "horrific chapter in Iraqi history has been closed."
The president is barely half right ? sadly an improvement when compared to the rest of his record.
While the ex-Iraqi dictator's final moments were a far cry from dignified, the Butcher of Baghdad got in death what he didn't in the final years of his life: martyrdom.
During his brutal 24-year rule, Saddam fancied himself a fearless military hero ? the model for Arab nationalism. But when the monster was pulled from a hole more than three years ago, he was exposed to the world as the pathetic coward he really always was. Without his entourage of vicious thugs to do his bidding he was nothing more than a doddering old man completely at the mercy of the U.S. military he had vowed to destroy.
As images of Saddam being checked for lice flashed across televisions throughout Iraq and the Middle East the icon became an embarrassment. Too bad it didn't last.
Mocked by his Shiite executioners before his hanging last week, the Baath Party front-man became a hero again to Sunnis throughout Iraq the moment the trapdoor beneath his feet swung open and images recorded by a cell phone camera were beamed across the planet.
Bush and the Iraqi government he supports talk about unity ? a country where Sunnis and Shiites live together peacefully. The manner in which Saddam was killed makes that an even more distant dream. That Saddam did much worse is absolutely true, but it doesn't matter.
As Iraq's Sunni-Shiite civil war continues, Saddam's execution provides another convenient excuse (as if they still need one) for more sectarian violence, effectively opening a new chapter in the sad history of what was once the cradle of civilization.
Meanwhile, more bloodshed in Iraq gives the Bush administration cover for sending additional troops and prolonging U.S. involvement in the war. The president will call it a "surge" or give it a grandiose title like "Operation Freedom's Thunder," but it's really insanity brought to us by an Iraqi government that wouldn't exist without the support of America's bravest soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen.
In his heyday 16 years ago, the longest Saddam's military could last against American fire power was six weeks. In death he may put up a better fight.
Christopher Truscott can be reached at email@example.com. He thinks Saddam is probably playing checkers in hell with Hitler and Lenin right about now.