Saddam Hussein: Black mark of the Bush father and son regimes
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-01-02
History will most likely regard the saga of Saddam Hussein as yet another hallmark failure of the George Bush father and son tandem. US President George Bush Sr. failed to finish off Saddam Hussein at the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm which ended Saddam’s dream of conquering Kuwait. President George W. Bush, now the White House occupant, tried to complete his father’s unfinished business but he did it in the worst way possible.

Hardly anyone will dispute Saddam Hussein’s place in the rogue’s gallery of notorious world leaders along with genocidal maniacs like Adolf Hitler and Idi Amin. But George W. Bush’s handling of Saddam Hussein served only to create a certain amount of sympathy for the Iraqi tyrant not only among Iraqis but also among other Muslims. Militant Muslims who never looked up to Saddam Hussein now regard him as a martyr.

George Bush Sr. at least accomplished his primary objective when he launched Operation Desert Storm. He was able to free Kuwait and secure a major world oil supplier. Bush Sr. failed when he did not go for total victory. He did not remove Saddam Hussein from power and did not make him account for the Kuwait aggression.

In contrast, George W. Bush accomplished nothing. To begin with, he launched a war that was totally unjustified. The Coalition Forces that invaded Iraq did not find any weapon of mass destruction and they also were not able to establish any link between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attack and other terrorist actions against the US.

Bush Jr. promised stability in the Middle East once Saddam Hussein was toppled. The opposite happened. Iraq became the rallying point for Arab anti-American sentiment. Militants from neighboring Arab states poured into Iraq to join the insurgency against the perceived invaders. US presence in Iraq confirmed Arab suspicion that the US lusted to control Arab oil.

Bush Jr. expected gratitude from the Iraqi people for removing their dictator and installing democracy. Bush Jr. was not only deceitful, worse, he was stupid. Even a two-bit student of history would have known that there was no way that Iraqis would welcome American presence in their country and not perceive it as a plain and simple foreign invasion.

To date, three years after invading Iraq, the US has already suffered 3,000 troop casualties and caused the death of tens of thousands of Iraqis. A brewing civil war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims is threatening to destabilize the entire region.

Osama Bin Laden, the real enemy of the War on Terror, could not have been happier with the move to invade Iraq. The Iraq misadventure distracted the offensive in Afghanistan, the main battleground of the War on Terror.

The costliest outcome of the Iraq War may well be the strong anti-war sentiment it has now generated among Americans. This was dramatically expressed by Americans in the November 7, 2006 Mid-term Elections where they gave Democrats a resounding victory. Now, all this promises to inhibit the US government from applying a similar action on Iran, the one country that poses a real danger and far greater threat than Saddam Hussein ever did. There is no way that the American public will now entertain any suggestions for a military action against Iran.

Conditioned by the Iraq misadventure, US public opinion will not allow the combat theatre to expand into Iran where far greater casualties are expected. Once the US armed forces sets foot in Iran, like they did in Iraq, they will face a stronger army and an even more militant civilian population.

An Iran with a nuclear capability is a real threat to US interests and world peace. With Iran and Israel both having nuclear weapons, the slightest incident and provocation (in a region that is never in short supply of it) can lead the entire planet into Armageddon.

The execution of Saddam Hussein last Saturday proved to be a most fitting recap of sorts of the US mishandling of the Iraqi strongman. Sentenced by what is widely perceived as a kangaroo court, even the verdict that would have otherwise been widely accepted raised controversy.

The rush to sentence and execute Saddam Hussein only managed to shift focus to the process with which the Iraqi tyrant was made to answer for his crimes. The earlier announced decision not to return Saddam Hussein’s body to his family and bury it in an unmarked grave would have spawned a Saddam Hussein myth, a sharp contrast to the image of the Saddam Hussein who was caught hiding in an underground hole. It was a wise move to allow Saddam Hussein to be buried beside his two sons in his native village near Tikrit.

There were reports that Saddam Hussein expressed fear as he approached the hangman’s noose. But the video and the BBC report belied that. Saddam Hussein was a picture of composure and even made a supreme act of defiance by refusing to have his face covered. He appeared to be saying a few words but he certainly did not project a picture of a man in fear.

The US and its Iraqis allies are hoping that Saddam Hussein’s execution will diffuse the Sunni insurgency. Other analysts see it otherwise. If there is one thing that Islamic extremist movements have shown – it is their ability to pursue their goals despite the loss of an important leader.

On the very morning of Saddam Hussein’s execution, a car bomb was exploded and killed scores of people in a Shiite holy site. A few hours later, another car bomb exploded in Northern Baghdad, killing five people.

The execution of Saddam Hussein marked the end of an era in Iraq but it also opens up to a new, more dangerous, more unmanageable sectarian strife – a developing civil war. For the US, Saddam Hussein out of the scene lessens the justification to stay a day longer in a country that should now be left to determine its own fate. Continued US presence in Iraq only exacerbates an already explosive situation.

The Sunni -Shiite conflict is no longer a matter of world security but a purely internal Iraqi political problem. The Sunni-Shiite conflict has also no bearing on the War on Terror.

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