December 30, 2006

AN EDITORIAL ON SADDAM’S EXECUTION, from NRO.

And here’s a big roundup of reactions from PJ Media.

Plus further thoughts from Austin Bay:

The Strong Man expects to die in one of two ways — with a nine millimeter ballot (ie, assassination) — or old age. That has certainly been the case in the Middle East. A public, legal trial followed by court-sentenced execution? That isn’t going to happen unless…unless a democracy replaces a tyranny. This is astonishing news — history altering news. For centuries the terrible yin-yang of tyrant and terrorist has trapped the Middle East.In 2003 the US-led coalition began the difficult but worthy effort of breaking that tyrant’s and terrorist’s trap, and offering another choice in the politically dysfunctional Arab Muslim Middle East.

Saddam’s demise serves as object lesson and example. In late 2003 every Middle Eastern autocrat saw the haggard Saddam pulled from the hole; now they’ve seen him hung. The larger message: To avoid Saddams fate means political liberalization. The message extends beyond the Arab Muslim Middle East. Iran’s mullahs see it. At some reptilian level, destructive despots like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe also understand it.

I worry, though, that we haven’t done enough of what Civil War generals called “keeping up the scare.” Momentum matters. Austin, however, thinks it was better done this way, and he’s smarter than me.

UPDATE: I see that Austin has updated his thoughts to respond to my comments on momentum.