Jewish World Review Dec. 16, 2003/ 21 Kislev, 5763
Defiant? He's a Ba'athist who won't bath
When I was in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, shortly
after the war, a young boy showed me his
schoolbook. It was like my textbooks at his age full
of doodles and squiggles and amusing additions to
the illustrations. With one exception: the many
pages bearing pictures of Saddam were in pristine
condition. Even a bored schoolboy doesn't get so
careless that he forgets where not to draw the line.
That's why Saddam
looking like a wino
round the back of
to a lice inspection
by an American
soldier is a much
better photo than
corpse at the end
of a shoot-out.
When was the last
time a Middle
wound up on the receiving end of an infidel tongue
depressor? For fellow dictators like Boy Assad, the
sight of the despot-turned-hobo may be a fearful
premonition. For Islamist appeasers like the House
of Saud, it's a reminder that the way you neutralise
a troublemaker is not to throw money at him in the
hopes he'll only blow other people up but to hunt
him down and finish him off.
For the Palestinians, who never met a loser they
weren't dumb enough to fall for (the Mufti, Nasser,
Yasser), Saddam still has an honoured place in the
Pantheon of Glorious Has-Beens. But for millions of
Iraqis a monster has shrivelled away into a smelly
bum too pathetic even to use his pistol to enjoy the
martyrdom he urged on others.
Saddam, of course, attempted to reclaim his stature,
but, in his current position, opportunities are few
and far between. In his first interrogation at
Baghdad Airport, he was asked if he'd like a glass of
water, and replied: "If I drink water I will have to
urinate and how can I urinate when my people are
in bondage?" If there's a statue left of him in Iraq,
they should chisel that on the plinth. That's now the
extent of his defiance: he can refuse to use the
bathroom. He's the Ba'athist who won't bath. Either
that or he's already put in a call to Johnnie Cochran
(OJ's lawyer) or Mark Geragos (Jacko's) and they
recommended he start laying the ground for his
In fairness to the non-urinator, "How can I urinate
when my people are in bondage?" is a model of
sound logic compared to the latest all too pissy
talking-points in Europe. For months the naysayers
have demanded the Americans turn over more
power to the Iraqis. Okay, let's start by turning
Saddam over to the Iraqis. Whoa, not so fast. The
same folks who insisted there was no evidence
Saddam was a threat to any countries other than
his own and the invasion was an unwarranted
interference in Iraqi internal affairs are now saying
that Saddam can't be left to the Iraqi people, he has
to be turned over to an international tribunal.
You can forget about that. The one consistent
feature of the post-9/11 era is the comprehensive
failure of the international order. The French use
their Security Council veto to protect Saddam. The
EU subsidises Palestinian terrorism. The
International Atomic Energy Agency provides cover
for Iran's nuclear ambitions. The UN summit on
racism is an orgy of racism.
All these institutions do is enable nickel'n'dime thugs
to punch above their weights. The New York Times,
sleepwalking through the 21st century on bromides
from the Carter era, wants the UN to run Saddam's
trial because one held under the auspices of the
Americans would "lack legitimacy". Au contraire, it's
the willingness of Kofi Annan, Mohammed el-Baradei,
Chris Patten, Mary Robinson and the other grandees
of the international clubrooms to give "legitimacy" to
Saddam, Kim Jong-Il, Arafat, Assad and co that
disqualifies them from any role in Iraq. I've come to
the conclusion that the entire international system
needs to be destroyed.
I don't suppose that's a priority of the Bush
Administration, or at least not until the second term.
But he's in no hurry to return to the Security Council
fairyland of make-believe resolutions that never get
enforced. On Sunday morning, his speed-call list was
restricted to the Coalition of the Willing the prime
ministers of Britain, Australia, Poland, Italy and
Spain. He seems to be roughing out the contours of
a new club here: dictatorships need not apply, but
nor need those democracies that serve as the
dictators' front men in polite society (are you
As for the Democrats and the European media, they
long ago decided that their slogan for the 2004
election is "It's the stupidity, stupid". President Bush
is a moron; therefore, everything that happens must
be evidence of his moronicness. I was saddened to
see my old friend Mark Lawson of the Guardian
falling for the canard that Mr Bush served up a
"plastic turkey" for Thanksgiving and deducing from
this that the President was in desperate fear of
being a onetermer. No doubt he's already moved on
to mocking the pathetic attempt to serve up
Saddam's lice-infested head on a platter to the
gullible American public just in time for Christmas.
It's just a suggestion but maybe if you're that
convinced of Republican stupidity you ought to write
about something else between now and, say, the
start of Condi Rice's second term in 2013. The fact (if
you'll forgive the word) is that things are going
pretty well, and there's really no losing scenario in
Iraq. Mr Bush may not succeed in bringing
democracy to Mesopotamia, but so what? If he has
to settle for a Musharraf and a big American base on
the Syrian border, it's no skin off his back. But it's
still better to have tried.
But I think he'll wind up with something close
enough to a free society in Iraq. I was mighty
heartened by Paul Bremer's press conference on
Sunday. He made a simple announcement "We got
him!" and the roomful of journalists erupted in
jubilant cries of "Death to Saddam!" True, this
turned out to be the Iraqi journalists. The western
correspondents had far more mixed feelings. Oh,
well. Cheer up. There'll be a new quagmire along in
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JWR contributor Mark Steyn is North American Editor of The (London) Spectator and the author, most recently, of "The Face of the Tiger," a new book on the world post-Sept. 11. (Sales help fund JWR). Comment by clicking here.
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12/02/03: War on terror can't stop with Iraq
11/24/03: It's not Vietnam and Bush is no Kennedy
11/12/03: There is a Cold War between the US and the EU
10/28/03: Muslim paranoia: Enemies made us impotent!
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10/08/03: Palestinian death cult
09/29/03: Bring on the capitalists
09/22/03: Here comes General Clark, his policies will follow shortly
09/17/03: Don't wait for government protection
09/11/03: Predators aren't looking for peace
09/02/03: This is Hillary's moment You go, girl!
08/29/03: There are now calls for greater UN involvement in Iraq. Thatís the last thing the country needs
08/26/03: There's only one hyperpower so everything is our fault
08/04/03: The White Man's Burden
07/29/03: Bill Clinton got this right
06/25/03: It's Mullah time!
05/07/03: What counts is what a guy does when he's not talking
04/30/03: It's named UNSCAM for a very good reason!
04/14/03: Movers and shakers have moved on to the next 'disaster'
03/25/03: Give Saddam credit
03/18/03: 'Eurabia' will have to look after herself
02/27/03: Death wish
02/19/03: The curtain will come down on the peaceniks
02/10/03: Let's quit the UN
02/03/03: Columbia reality-check
01/29/03: Go forth and multiply
01/09/03: America's fake identity crisis
12/31/02: GOP underperforms, but Dems are laughable
11/26/02: A bombing pause --- for 12 months!?
10/30/02: Stop making excuses for Muslim extremists
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08/23/02: Battered Westerner Syndrome inflicted by myopic Muslim defenders
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07/16/02: Arafat is toast; Bush knows it --- so why doesn't the rest of the world?
07/10/02: Hey, FBI: So, denial really is a river in Egypt!
06/20/02: A fight to the finish
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05/31/02: Unless we change our ways ... the world faces a future where things look pretty darn good
05/24/02: Sweet land of liberty: Britain and Europe have free governments, but only in the US are the people truly free
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03/27/02 The good, the bad and the Gallic shrug
03/20/02 Grand convocation of the weird
© 2002, Mark Steyn