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A little irony

He is probably the only responsible leader with a hot-line to the masses, a private telephone line directly connected with the national network and continuously used by the public to put their grievances directly to him.

Who on earth is this remarkable democratic personality, being described in a book published by Longman of London in the year of my birth?

Saddam Hussein seems to be one of the rare, lucky men in whom thought and action are finely matched, and evidence of both qualities is amply provided in this collection of statements, which should be read with interest for a good reason. ... The Kurdish question is now settled, the entire oil wealth of Iraq has been successfully nationalised, the National Front is more consolidated than ever before, the people are experiencing unprecendented stability and prosperity, and all former enemies are out of the way: demoralised, or won over. The Middle East stage direction reads: Enter Iraq, followed by men and minerals. Saddam Hussein is now 40 years old, and the observer of the Middle East would be well advised to keep watch on this ascending star.

From Saddam Hussein on Current Events in Iraq, London: Longman, 1977.

If only we had. I do not know exactly what happened to his hotline, but at least metaphorically it was replaced with a hangrope -- a crude object he retained a penchant for long after he had discovered more effective means of wreaking death on his perceived foes.

The coalition needs no translator to advise them to keep closer watch on him this time. What a prize! (Nevertheless, how strange is it that a man of such cruelty, with such horrendous crimes to his name, could sit in a guarded cell looking almost like a scapegoat and a pawn?)

I hope this reduces the incidence of violence against civilians, foreigners and soldiers in Iraq. The jihadists will be undaunted -- they despised Saddam at least as much as we did, and for far longer. But the loyalists will surely suffer a substantial, perhaps critical, blow to their morale, and it would take a bizarre twist for them to integrate with the jihadists. If this development does have that effect, it will probably deliver at least Bush, and likely Howard, their next terms. That might be a source of agonism for some, but how many American soldiers would you will die to prevent it? How many civilians killed and maimed? It would be ominous indeed if this sinister war became an unqualified victory for the aggressors, but it is up to us -- it has always been up to us -- to prevent that, by reiterating its irrational motives, its indiscriminate bloodletting, and its still real and looming global imperiling, loudly and over and over. Certainly it is not for Saddam loyalists or murderous zealots to prevent with bullets and bombs. Violence begets violence -- that was the problem with the war in the first place.

Who do I trust to deliver this man the justice he warrants? Certainly not those who perceive themselves as immediate creditors to his enormous blood debts -- they are the witnesses and victims; they should not be judges, juries and executioners too. Nor Howard, who has discovered in his twilight years a vampiric taste for the blood of foreign criminals (and who of course has no direct say anyway). Bush has always had that predilection, and not merely of foreigners -- the State of Texas ended more lives in his governorship than any other state. Saddam Hussein should not be killed, not by the East and not by the West. He should be imprisoned, castrated of all his power and influence to the end of his days, with nothing to do but ponder what he has done.

He is, of course, not the only one I would like to see in that state, but that's another matter.

Joseph | 15 Dec 2003

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