The Occasional Muse
My humble opinion on current events
April 11, 2003
Find Saddam and Kill
With Baghdad now belonging to coalition
forces and soon the Iraqi people, the worst of the fighting may be over.
While there are still hostile elements alive and well, none pose any
credible threat to the coalition's hold on Baghdad or other cities. Albeit
dangerous to soldiers, these elements are little more than annoyances.
The British have slowly gained control of
Basra, and southern Iraq is entirely in coalition hands. The north is
still open, but the coalition troops already there and moving south, and
forces from Baghdad heading north, any remaining organized Saddam troops
will be squeezed and then destroyed.
Supply lines are open and trucks are
delivering food and medicine to the Iraqi people. Troops have found
warehouses filled with moldering food, food that was going to Saddam's
army to maintain their loyalty, rather than to his starving population.
All those who claimed that sanctions were responsible for Iraqi
malnutrition and death should acknowledge their mistake.
No terrorist attacks have occurred on
American soil. Israel has not been bombed. Turkey has behaved. Iran and
Syria have mostly stayed out of the way. Iraqi resistance was fiercer than
expected but never much of an obstacle. The supposed quagmire dried up
quickly (even if it ever existed) and has become a paved superhighway.
Coalition casualties have been relatively light while enemy casualties
have been heavy.
So all is going well, and with Baghdad
captured, many no doubt think the war is largely won. That's correct in
the sense that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power - not regime change,
exactly, but regime elimination. A new civil government is still in the
works, one that should oversee the transition to a representative
republic. Hopefully, the result will be a new birth of freedom for the
Iraqi people, and more importantly, one less threat to America.
All that being said, the war in Iraq should
not be considered finished - much less won - until Saddam Hussein is
The U.S. apparently did not get him in that
first "strike of opportunity" that started this war less than a
month ago. I'm not sure we even know how close we came to getting him. The
U.S. thinks it got him with that bomb strike on the restaurant a couple
days ago, but the British say he was seen leaving the restaurant just
minutes before the bombs hit.
Let's assume Saddam is alive. What will he
I see him fleeing to a pre-arranged safe
spot in Syria. It'll be a place hidden from the outside world. It will
have ample funds that he's already sent there, safe from any sanctions or
legal means to freeze accounts. Syria will deny having him. The rest of
the world will not know he's there.
So what does Saddam do in Syria? One of
three things: He lays low, stays hidden, and uses his wealth and intimate
knowledge of Iraq and its weapons of mass destructions to set up a network
of terrorists. Maybe he joins forces with Hamas or Hezebollah. Maybe he
creates his own terrorist group. He gives these terrorists keys to his
weapons plants. It's now much safer for him to hand out such weapons to
others, because he cannot be tracked or punished. He would no doubt take
that opportunity. The terrorists would then use those weapons in Iraq,
Israel, and the U.S.
He could also declare an Iraqi government
in exile, with himself as its head, and a few key lackeys as his cabinet.
This requires a bit more risk, because it's a more public role. But his
ego and sense of honor may demand such a daring show of bravado, to show
the Arab world that he was not defeated by the hated Americans.
Or, Saddam could just quietly disappear and
spend the rest of his life lounging by the pool. I don't see that
The bottom line is this. As long as Saddam
remains alive and unaccounted for, and retains access to wealth and
weapons, he will always be a serious threat to America. That's why the
U.S. must take him out, and make it public, to consider this war done and
won. The great weapon of the terrorist is the unknown - what are they up
to, what are they plotting, who will they strike next? The terrorists
don't even need to do anything to sow their terror. Just the possibility
of Saddam's existence creates uncertainty and fear. The specter of Saddam
Hussein cannot linger over Iraq and the world, much like the Taliban's
haunts Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden's haunts America.