Sunday, December 31, 2006

Saddam's dead and so are 3,000 American troops. Can we bring the rest home now?

So we end this year with the depressing fact that U.S. military deaths in Iraq have reached 3,000 -- not to mention the larger number who have been seriously wounded, often maimed for life, or the even larger number whose lives have been thrown into chaos and long-term trauma. For what? Saddam is dead. George W. Bush not only has the feeling of a job well done, but he also has Saddam's gun as a souvenir.
Aides said the president made a point of not personalizing it. "I never heard him take any particular relish in Saddam's capture or the fate that obviously awaited him," said Matthew Scully, a former White House speechwriter who helped prepare Bush's remarks about Hussein's capture. "I remember vividly that the president's reaction that day was kind of businesslike. He always saw Saddam as part of the larger picture."

Still, in his White House study, the president keeps a memento -- the pistol taken from Hussein when he was captured. If there ever was a duel, it is now over.
Yeah, right. Go tell it to the Washington Post. Oops, he did...

If it had been about justice, Saddam Hussein would have been tried for his vast crimes against humanity -- the worst of which took place with U.S. complicity in his war against Iran -- in an international court in The Hague. Instead, he was tried and executed by the U.S. occupation's puppets of the moment, following a U.S. timetable and political agenda. Conveniently, like Oswald being shot about by Jack Ruby, he died before key questions about his past could be answered in a court of law -- questions leading to answers that would have been embarrassing to the U.S. government. No matter how they dress it up, Saddam Hussein is dead because George Bush wanted to prove he was man enough to kill him.

Josh Marshall summed it up perfectly at Talking Points Memo.
This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.

Try to dress this up as an Iraqi trial and it doesn't come close to cutting it -- the Iraqis only take possession of him for the final act, sort of like the Church always left execution itself to the 'secular arm'. Try pretending it's a war crimes trial but it's just more of the pretend mumbojumbo that makes this out to be World War IX or whatever number it is they're up to now.

The Iraq War has been many things, but for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren't grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting.
How many more lives will be lost pursuing George Bush's thespian ambitions? How much longer will this charade continue, now that it's arch-villain has been disposed of? To what end? Oh, I forgot -- it's about democracy.
Saddam Hussein's execution comes at the end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people and for our troops. Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain and defend itself and be an ally in the war on terror.
How about if we just call it "mission accomplished' and get the hell out of there?

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