Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi dictator who spent his last years in captivity after his ruthless Baathist regime was toppled from power by the U.S.-led coalition in 2003, was hanged Saturday for crimes committed in a brutal crackdown during his reign, a witness said.
I think killing Saddam is meaningless or, more probably, negative for U.S. security. Saddam in prison, Saddam in the dock–these were powerful images against tyranny. We should have arranged to have him transferred to The Hague, where he could have stood trial until he died or went insane from confrontations with his monstrous actions. Killing him does two things: 1.) Ending the examination of the Saddam regime, and; 2.) Begins a legend that was dispelled by the fact of Saddam, the beaten despot. It’s only an opinion, but putting Iraq’s past behind it would have been better served by simply leaving Saddam where he did not want to be, in jail.
Watching CNN, which is reporting the event with unbroken coverage based on very little actual information. There was a golden moment when Anderson Cooper asked the CNN correspondent how she could tell the gunfire she was hearing was “celebratory.” You know, it’s gunfire. Happy gunfire.
Then, there has been an absurd line of reporting about Saddam’s dedication to Joe Stalin. Now, he may have been an ardent admirer of another murderous monster, but when commentators appear on air suggesting that Saddam, the egomaniacal despot, had his statues made to look more like Stalin than himself, you have to wonder about the sanity of the producers. Saddam’s interest in Stalin as a model is an meaningful anecdote, but not the important explanation of Saddam’s rise to power.
Why is there not coverage of the meeting between Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam in 1983, when the United States and Iraq agreed they shared many common interests? This was, of course, after the genocide for which he was sentenced to die. Joe Stalin had less direct influence on Saddam than the Reagan Administration and Don Rumsfeld, who cleared the way for sales of weapons to Iraq throughout the 1980s. President Reagan released a national security directive (NSDD 139) that codified our support of the Saddam Hussein regime in 1984.
Saddam was a monster, but let’s be realistic about this. He was our monster, not Stalin’s, not Russia’s, not even Islam’s monster. Saddam was an instrument of U.S. policy toward Iran while he cemented his power in Iraq and, like many strongmen we’ve supported in the past, it backfired.