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Mark Alexander / Dec. 19, 2003

Ace (in the) hole…

Unless you’re a Demo-presidential candidate and have repressed this terrible turn of events, you’re no doubt aware that the erstwhile Evil-Doer and infamous Ace of Spades has been bagged by the good guys. Indeed, last weekend troops from the 4th Infantry Division found Saddam Hussein, the former “president” of Iraq, the self-styled Lion of Baghdad, cowering in a hole outside the village of al-Dawr near his ancestral town of Tikrit.

Perhaps Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the 4th ID, whose troops carried out operation “Red Dawn,” best characterized the moment of capture: “He was just caught like a rat. …He was in the bottom of a hole….” Then again, perhaps Odierno’s characterization of Saddam was an affront to self-respecting vermin everywhere, given the onetime despot’s matted beard, filthy clothes, and failure to fire a single shot in his defense. In any case, Saddam certainly looked the part of a tyrant rat who’d long ago lost his mojo.

L. Paul Bremer, head of the coalition’s provisional authority, assessed the import of the capture for the long-oppressed Iraqi people: “This is a great day in Iraq’s history. …Iraq’s future, your future, has never been more full of hope. The tyrant is a prisoner.” Spontaneous celebrations, reminiscent of those accompanying the fall of Baghdad, broke out all over Iraq, including the so-called “Sunni triangle,” where support for Saddam was supposed to be ironclad.

President George Bush nonetheless reiterated that the welcome news is unlikely to effect any immediate change in the course of our worldwide war with Jihadistan: “The war on terror is a different kind of war, waged capture by capture, cell by cell, and victory by victory. Our security is assured by our perseverance and by our sure belief in the success of liberty. And the United States of America will not relent until this war is won.”

Following the President’s comments, analyst Peter Brookes noted, “Information about Iraq’s role in terrorism, now and in the past, would help us unravel the fabric of the world’s terrorist network. And have Saddam’s WMD been spirited to Syria or Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley or buried deep in the Iraqi desert? But the War on Terror continues. …[T]his struggle is not over by any stretch of the imagination.”

The psychological effect of Saddam’s capture on the Iraqi people is certain to augur well for the increasing turn to liberty the Iraqi Governing Council promises. Iraqis who may have withheld support for their new government-in-formation out of fear of Saddam’s return can now freely take part in assuring their nation’s future. Moreover, the Ba'athist dead-enders, having heretofore fueled the insurgency in the hope that they might return Saddam (and themselves) to power, have had their puerile prospects dashed.

Adnan Pachachi, currently serving as president of the Iraqi Governing Council, was jubilant. “It shows that the enemies of the people can run but cannot hide forever,” he said. Pachachi and other council members met briefly with The Prisoner, emerging to say that he had not lost his sense of bravado and command, even with his ignominious capture.

What’s next for Saddam? As we noted last week, remarking generally about the proposed tribunal the Iraqi Governing Council had settled on, the internationalists were already fuming. They were already convinced that the Iraqi people, even hewing to international law standards and principles, couldn’t possibly be trusted to follow the niceties and subtleties favored by the international jurisprudes. Ironically, those so intent on speeding the process toward Iraqi self-governance are also the most reticent to allow a sovereign Iraqi court system to try Saddam independently. Fortunately, President Bush has remained steadfast in supporting a trial in Iraq, by Iraqis, for Saddam’s crimes against … the Iraqis. And then what? (We at The Federalist are hoping for a Mussolini Moment!)

As for other progress in Iraq, our troops and coalition allies have been gaining ground in battling the Jihadi and Ba'athist guerrillas. As military analyst Ralph Peters observed, “Behind the headline attacks on our soldiers and Iraqi civilians, we’ve been killing 50 to 70 hardcore terrorists and renegades each week, while arresting hundreds. We’ve busted more and more key Ba'athist officials.” And that was before the windfall of intelligence from documents in Saddam’s possession – as well as whatever our interrogators can coax out of him.

Quote of the week…

“We’ve witnessed, in little over a generation, the swiftest advance of freedom in the 2,500-year story of democracy. Historians in the future will offer their own explanations for why this happened. Yet we already know some of the reasons they will cite. It is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world’s most influential nation was itself a democracy.” –President George W. Bush

On cross-examination…

“The last thing we need is an international tribunal to try Saddam Hussein. Do we really want the Libyans or the Cubans playing international politics with this? Do we want some French judge to sentence Saddam to so many hours of community service? For that matter, do we even want American laws applied in a country with such wholly different traditions? Certainly we do not need some lawyer like Johnnie Cochran to obfuscate the issues or – heaven help us – a 5-4 decision by our Supreme Court, after years of innumerable appeals.” –Thomas Sowell

Open query…

“What’s more, the nature of his capture – with Saddam giving himself up quietly after having basically buried himself alive – could not have been better suited to the goal of quashing the terrorist attacks on American forces. His own ‘resistance’ came to an end in such a cowardly fashion that over the next few weeks it might call into question the value of continued resistance in the name of the Ba'ath Party he ran. After all, if Saddam wouldn’t fight for his own cause, by what logic should anybody else blow himself up in his shameful name?” –John Podhoretz

In other news…

The capture of Saddam Hussein has revealed, among other things, a Leftist political establishment that is at best terribly naïve, and at worst intellectually and morally bankrupt. Following the announcement of Hussein’s capture, a chorus of Democrat presidential contenders erupted in a singular cry of, in the words of frontrunner Howard Dean, “bring the UN” back to Iraq. Non-frontrunner John “F” Kerry (the French-looking Senator from Massachusetts) added, “This is a great opportunity for this president to get it right for the long term. And I hope he will be magnanimous, reach out to the UN, to allies who’ve stood away from us.”

Let’s examine the logic of this argument (which, by the way, is the same thing the Demo herd has been saying all along). First, Saddam Hussein is captured. Second, on the heels of Saddam’s most timely demise, former Secretary of State James Baker, dispatched as President Bush’s special envoy for Iraq’s foreign-debt relief, reaches an agreement with Iraq war opponents France and Germany (to whom Iraq owes billions of dollars) to reduce and otherwise restructure Iraq’s debt. Iraq’s foreign debt totals $120 billion – about three times what’s needed to trigger a stateside recall election – including some $3 billion owed to France, $2.4 billion to Germany and $2.2 billion to the U.S. The White House reportedly hopes to see two-thirds of the country’s foreign debt erased. (France and Germany, aghast at the prospect of being sidelined in the multi-billion dollar bidding for Iraq’s reconstruction, had ample motivation, of course.)

So, in one week, two of the major dilemmas in the aftermath of the war – the search for Saddam and Iraqi debt relief – stand resolved. In the minds of the candidates for the Democrats’ 2004 presidential ticket (Joe Lieberman withstanding), this somehow amounts to a failure of President Bush’s Iraq strategy and suggests the need for UN intervention and control. In turn, this renewed bleating for a “UN presence” comes when UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, having been berated by Iraq’s interim foreign minister for the body’s abandonment of Iraq, stated in no uncertain terms that the UN had no plan to return in a substantial capacity any time soon.

If these events amount to a failure of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy, we at The Federalist can’t wait to see what success looks like. Such thinking (if it can rightfully be called thinking) on the part of the Democrat presidential field unmasks the sorry state of that party today. What everyone knows, but The Braying Herd of Jackasses can’t see, is that Karl Rove himself couldn’t have orchestrated their demise as effectively as they themselves have done. Instead of celebrating this spectacular Saddamite gift from Santa von Clausewitz (or Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, as some call him), the Demos are bent on showing their fellow Americans what it means to be a grinch.

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