Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five Years And Counting In The 100 Years Iraq War: Thoughts On Bush And Saddam

Il Doofus, a man with a unique ability to invent his own reality every day, gave a speech at the Pentagon on the fifth anniversary of "Operation Iraqi Freedom." If you take Bush at face value, he's still very convinced of the rightness of his decision. Here's the report from McClatchy Newspapers.

Presuming that we can take this man at face value, let's just, for purposes of argument, do the same regarding the late Saddam Hussein. Saddam seemed quite convinced, to his last hour, that he was the man who "built Iraq." He cussed judges, cussed his guards; he was defiant to the very end. If there was any fear of perdition lurking in the man's heart, he never let it show.

Mind you, there's no doubt in my mind that if there is a hereafter and a God who judges, Saddam is probably in a pretty awful place now. By any objective standard, he was a murderous dictator of the Stalinist type.

But there is the perverse possibility that he really didn't see himself as an evil man. Could it be that he simply embraced that nasty little idea that making an omelet means breaking eggs? (Yes, it's a bad analogy. But it isn't mine.) In other words, that the ends justify the means?

Saddam was guilty of direct and arbitrary enormities that Bush will never match. I know there are lefties out there who may object to that statement. But the very fact that they are blogging, organizing, and able to do any of the above should illustrate the distinction. Even if the contemporary U.S. can be characterized as crypto-fascist -- I think there's a good argument for that -- at least they aren't summarily executing the likes of me, waterboarding me, or opening camps. (Well, not yet.)

It is apparent, though, that Bush & Co. have been personally responsible for a whole lot of death and suffering. Pointing out the nearly 4,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq is typical U.S. ethnocentrism. It's as though the Iraqi deaths, estimated by some sources as close to 700,000, are secondary.

Yes, Saddam was a homicidal thug. The U.S. foreign policy establishment knew that while they were supporting and arming him in the '80s, during his foolish eight-year war with Iran and his genocidal suppression of the Kurds. It wasn't until he started getting uppity against U.S. interests that anybody appears to have had a problem with him being a career sociopath.

A comparison of Saddam with Bush is a long stretch. It's like comparing a seasoned hit man to a dude in an Armani suit who had an underling hire a few killings, then pretended he just didn't know.

But there is the possibility that both men were firmly convinced of their rightness. After five years of preventable tragedy, that may be the saddest part of the story.

The killing will go on for at least another year. And if McCain is elected ... (see post title).