“THANK GOD HE’S ALIVE”, writes Lee Harris:
We took Saddam Hussein alive, and, in doing this, we have done a great deal more than simply knock down a statue of a dictator — we have vanquished a collective nightmare. We have turned the light on a bogey-man, and revealed him to be a broken old man, hiding fearfully in a six by eight hole.
We can see now how foolish we were to regret not rubbing him out that first night, when we dropped the bunker-piercing bomb on what we had been told was his hide-out. Had we pulverized him then, he might well have returned to claim a permanent place in the Iraqi imagination, like a kind of Mesopotamian Freddy Krueger. But, luckily, we missed him, and now we can see that there was a providence in our failure — as so often there is in our ordinary lives as well.
That is the problem of living through history, rather than reading about it when it is over. What at first appears a triumph may be just a prelude to disaster; what at first seems a failure may prove to be merely a necessary step toward a final success. The capture of Saddam Hussein may not prove to be the turning point when, decades from now, we look back on this period; but, for right now, it certainly feels like it.
I wonder if Saddam can be coerced (by any means necessary, as far as I’m concerned), to issue a final “surrender, lay down your arms” speech to the remaining pro-Baathist troops still fighting.
I wonder how many of them will listen.