Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saddam and Wyatt Earp


Saddam Guilty and Sentenced: May Be Hanged in 30 Days


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At this point I am dispassionate about the verdict on Saddam and his pending demise. I no longer have the glee that I might have had some time ago. He is guilty of so many atrocities that I have no pity on the man, yet at least he has called, through his attorney, for no revenge or bloodshed on his behalf. The reaction to the verdict does seem to be mild so far, so are we left with the Butcher of Baghdad doing something Lincolnesque in his final days on earth? Well, that’s a stretch.

Implications of the Rule of Saddam

It appears now, in hindsight, that Saddam was a strongman who kept Iraq together as a country. He corralled and tamed the Kurds, the Shiites, and the Sunnis into a functioning nation. Yes, things were better for Iraqis when he was in charge. People could lead normal lives, go to the market, sit in cafes, visit nightclubs, walk around. Yes, those were better times. On the other hand, what was the price for those better times?

In order to keep the various tribes, sects, nationalities and political factions in line, Saddam had to be vicious. Threats, arrests in the middle of the night, rape, torture, murder and mass murder, the use of poison gas. This is one way to do it. Sort of like the mafia, only unimaginably worse.

So now, the Iraqi’s are trying to do without a strongman. They’re attempting to keep this quarreling nation together through democracy. Can they do it? Who knows? The place is kind of like the Wild West in America, which had to be tamed by strongmen called gunfighters who came down on the side of the law, but who skirted the law to “get their men” and impose order. Some of the heroes of the Wild West were unsavory characters, like Wyatt Earp. They shot and killed people without reading them their rights.

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Slowly, America transitioned, and it was a long transition, to the rule of law and habeas corpus and all that. Even until recently, we had a kind of strongman heading our FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, who wore dresses in private, but secretly taped Martin Luther King, persecuted his enemies, and probably even blackmailed presidents. Still, he transformed America into a relatively law-abiding place, reducing the clout of the mafia and other mobs, getting undesirables like Al Capone off the street, and creating an atmosphere of relative internal peace.

Right, he was no Saddam. He didn’t rape anyone or rip off fingernails. Yet he was a law-breaker and a man who used the might of a nation against all his enemies. The positive was that, along with his abuses of power, he kept the country in line.

Does Iraq need another Saddam to keep the peace there? I hope not. I hope they can transition to a lesser tyrant like Wyatt Earp or J. Edgar Hoover, and maybe from there to the kinds of leaders we now have in America. Democrats and liberals call Bush a tyrant, but they have no idea what the meaning of tyrant is—read your history and see what Nixon was doing, J. Edgar Hoover, even Lincoln during the Civil War. See The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, a biography of Abraham Lincoln written by Thomas DiLorenzo in 2002. DiLorenzo presents evidence of civil liberties abuses such as the suspension of habeas corpus, violations of the first amendment, war crimes committed by generals in the American Civil War, and the expansion of government power. Lincoln was our most noble and benevolent tyrant, and thank God for him. Nixon was a good president except maybe for his handling of Vietnam, and for his tyranny. J. Edgar Hoover kept the peace, while violating civil rights.

Is there a Lincoln on the horizon in Iraq? I don’t see one, but I suppose it’s possible. These things take time. Again, they could settle for a Wyatt Earp, or even for a Nixon there. Then, they could improve to a J. Edgar Hoover, and then a Bush. That would be good enough for any nation. You don’t necessarily need to arrive at a Lincoln in order to have a good, functioning country.

Rock


(*Wikipedia is always my source unless indicated.)

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4 comments:

SGT DUB said...

Rock, As I'm on my 2nd tour in Afghanistan and 0 in Iraq (so far) I am speaking of both countries we are working in with the same problems and issues. First, I believe the majority of problems in both countries are caused by foreign individuals and organizations that do not want to see either country succeed in democracy. If outside negative influence was mitigated and the countries left to heal themselves with assistance from the world, then you would see a renaissance in Iraq offering music, art, literature, and business. I believe Afghanistan will take much longer as the infastructure was all but elinated after 25 years of war. Secondly, I do believe there are people in both countries that can stand up at some point and unify their respective country. The outcry from some that these are just puppets of America are just as damaging as the terrorists that strike at the innocent. During our own period after the Revolutionary War, people were amazed that after we elected a 2nd and 3rd President that there was no civil unrest, no riots in the streets that this works. You can't build democracy over night, it has to start somewhere, it has to start out slow. When the people of these two countries finally realize who the real enemy of their countries are, and confront that enemy, we will see change. Unfortunately, we don't know what the future holds, we can only do what we feel as right, and righteous to help our fellow human partners on this planet.

I would love to be a guest blogger at some point, I usually need a trigger comment or story to get me going on a roll. I'll let you know when one hits me. Thank you.

SGT DUB said...

One more point, the Taliban was successful at maintaining peace in Afghanistan for a while, but actually eliminating anyone who doesn't agree with you isn't a good way to live.

Rock said...
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Rock said...

Sgt Dub, I'm happy to hear from you. By the way, you seem like a pretty good writer, I wonder if you've considered doing a book? I'm a professional writer and we could team up--or, you could approach a publishing company yourself. Find a focus and put it down. Get an editor or ghostwriter to tell your story or your ideas for how these things could work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just thinking out loud. :)

Anyway, I think I'm always going to demure to you on issues regarding what to do in war, and what to do in peace where you are, in Afghanistan. You have a better vantage than I, and you seem to be eminently professional. So, while I'll put my two cents in on my blog, thinking these things out as a layman, I will certainly learn from you about reality on the ground, and about the Afghan people and culture.

This is valuable stuff for the world to know.

One more point, the Taliban was successful at maintaining peace in Afghanistan for a while, but actually eliminating anyone who doesn't agree with you isn't a good way to live.

Yes, I agree. Much like Saddam kept the peace, and Mussolini made the trains run on time, and Hitler revved up the German economy. There are always advantages to ruthless dictators. Democracy is harder. Eventually, democracy is better, though, as I'm sure you agree.

First, I believe the majority of problems in both countries are caused by foreign individuals and organizations that do not want to see either country succeed in democracy. If outside negative influence was mitigated and the countries left to heal themselves with assistance from the world, then you would see a renaissance in Iraq offering music, art, literature, and business.

Good to know. I wonder how we get the foreign influence out of Iraq and Afghanistan?

I've spoken before on this blog about a possible Arab/Muslim renaissance, and I think it's not only possible, but as you say, likely it will happen if this once great culture can go back to its historical roots in the arts, medicine and science. They used to lead the world in all these.

Personally, I don't even mind a Marshall Plan for the area if it could be guaranteed that the money wouldn't go down a rat's hole. You're right, though, peace is first.

Thanks for your comments. Appreciated as usual. And, thank you and your buddies for your service. We are ever grateful. Yes, do write a post soon.

Have a great day.

Rock