Saddam Hussein, the devil in the docket in Baghdad, is laughing all the way to the gallows. Saddam will meet his just reward when the Iraqi court renders its final verdict and sentences him to death, but it is Bush who is the long term loser in their confrontation.
Saddam in his wildest dreams could never have imagined the damage the U.S. invasion of his country would inflict on the invader. It cannot but delight Saddam to see the United States listed in most surveys of world opinion as the most despised country on the face of the planet. As the Pew Center for the People & the Press wrote last year: “anti-Americanism is deeper and broader now than at any time in modern history.” Saddam wonders how he could have achieved such a “victory” when he was never a threat to the United States in the first place. A joyful laugh emanates from Saddam’s cell.
The billions of dollars the United States has spent advancing Bush’s messianic misbelieve that democracy can be promoted through the barrel of a gun is a mere pittance compared to the tragic expenditure in lives and shattered limbs of the brave men and women of the Armed Forces, all in cause unworthy of their noble sacrifice. Three years into a war to make Iraq both safe for democracy and safe for oil exports to the United States, neither objective is within reach. The infrastructure remains in a shambles. Electricity, water, and security are in short supply. Fear stalks the streets and alleyways in much of the country. A recent survey indicates that seventy-two per cent of the US forces in Iraq think we should exit in a year. The man in the cell lets out a cheer.
Iraq has become a breeding ground for terrorists who have improved their skills and increased their hate. Saddam not only had no WMD in his country prior to the war, he also harbored no terrorists. When the US invaded, Osama bin Laden despised Saddam for his secular state. Now Osama operates through surrogates and envisions an Islamic theocracy in Baghdad. Another cheer emanates from Saddam’s cell urging on al-Qaeda, a force absent from Iraq prior to the US invasion.
The President, Vice President Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld continue to claim progress in Iraq and make optimistic predictions, but Saddam from his prison cell knows that their credibility is shrinking day by day. Rumsfeld asks us to consider that “history is a bigger picture” and then goes on to insult the history of the Holocaust by equating defeat in Iraq to defeat at the hands of the Nazis. Rumsfeld must have forgotten his Commander in Chief’s view of history that was evident when Bush told correspondent Bob Woodward: “history, history we don’t know; we will all be dead.” Saddam lets out a wild whoop as he watches the American troika try in vain to make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear.
The American experience in Iraq has been nasty, brutish and too long and is eating away at the “dream that dreamers dreamed.” It may be too late, but all involved in Iraq should recall Immanuel Kant’s words in his essay “Perpetual Peace” (1795) when he wrote: “no state at war with another shall permit such acts of hostility as would make mutual confidence impossible during a future time of peace.”
As mutual confidence between the three major factions in Iraq fades into the sunset, we hear a piercing laugh of triumph emanating from Saddam’s cell. Saddam’s last words could well be the Arabic equivalent of: “heck of a job Bushie…”
Peter F. Spalding is a retired member of the senior Foreign Service and is writing a book on the search for an ethical foreign policy. Email to: PFS202@AOL.COM.