it's finally happened Saddam
has been captured. If he was in fact funding the Iraqi guerrillas,
US soldiers should now have an easier time of it in the wilds of Iraq,
with the resistance's
leading commander eliminated. Yet what if Hussein as would appear the
case from the photos and descriptions of a disheveled,
bewildered fugitive was actually not so important to the guerrilla
war? What if the attacks against American forces actually increase?
Could the Bush Administration's greatest victory to date end up backfiring?
arrest of Hussein appears to be fortuitous, coming just in time for
the new year and the new season for political campaigning in America.
The timing could not have been any better for a beleaguered president
who had, until yesterday, run out of propaganda stunts in advance of
next month's pivotal State of the Union address.
short-term, Bush's future looks rosy. The Democrats, schizophrenic,
confused and constantly attacking one another's ideas, are once
again reduced to fulsome plaudits of the president's great leadership,
as they were with the Thanksgiving turkey stunt. They have
no choice now but to praise the leadership that led straight to Saddam's
underground lair and, by implication, make themselves utterly
irrelevant to today's political debate.
some small miracle, Osama is captured too, the Democrats may as well
just drop out of the race. Enemies of Bush who fear nothing more than
the unrestrained indulgences of a second-term president do not want
to contemplate a long dark night of foreign intervention and revoked
will the arrest of Saddam still prove a boon for Bush, 11 long months
from now? In the long-term, could having Hussein on his hands actually
prove problematic for Bush? We should remember that even after the initial
euphoria of the arrest has worn off, the situation on the ground in
Iraq remains. The Bush Administration has been spinning the myth that
Saddam Hussein was the hidden hand behind the Iraqi resistance. However,
if the guerrillas do not give up but instead redouble their attacks,
the capture of Saddam will be seen as ineffectual. If this is how it
turns out, and military deaths continue, then candidate Bush may actually
suffer from the capture of Saddam.
Trial to End All Trials
should also not forget the inherent problems to be encountered in trying
Saddam. If the US really wants to show itself as a paragon of law and
justice, he will be allowed to mount a defense. And, if this goes anything
like the Milosevic
trial at the Hague has, the result will likely be long, tiresome
and politically embarrassing.
be allowed to call witnesses to the stand from past and present American
administrations? Will his testimony on the former Iraqi-American friendship
prove damaging for leading American officials? In this landmark trial
to be conducted before the eyes of the world, how much of the proceedings
will be censored or otherwise withheld from public knowledge and what
will the free press have to say about this? Just as much as Saddam,
the US Government and the
operative tribunal will also be put on trial here.
Reprieve for the Imperialists
the coming weeks will see a revitalized neoconservative movement use
the capture to justify everything it has long called for. No doubt the
fact that Saddam was overthrown and finally arrested no matter how
bloody and difficult it turned out to be will be forwarded as justification
for why leaders of other "rogue states" can and should be hunted down.
On to Iran, Libya, North Korea!
reports showed ordinary Iraqis celebrating
the final downfall of Saddam. They giddily fired their rifles in the
a wedding" said one resident of Baghdad. Now, everyone especially
the neocons is waiting to see the effect this momentous event will
have on the Iraqi resistance. Should the guerrillas melt away, give
up, or even gladly put down their weapons and pledge fealty to the US
occupiers, the prevailing narrative to emerge from all this conflict
and waste will be that Saddam, and only Saddam, was the reason for the
resistance in the first place. Removing a dictator, by necessity, would
therefore be to simultaneously remove all opposition to the American
Way anytime, anywhere. No doubt, the international tyrant count is
set to rise exponentially overnight.
ways, though they had no actual relation, the arrest of Saddam and the
attacks of September 11th mark two turning points in the
war on terror. The latter set it off, whereas the former will be used
by propagandists to retrospectively justify it.
now-daily attacks do not stop but rather intensify, one of two arguments
will emerge. If they are seen to be revenge for the capture of Saddam,
the Iraqi leader will continue to be blamed or, that is, his symbolic
image will be blamed. Or, if there is no perceived relationship between
the violence and the vanished leader, the possibility would have to
be considered that Iraqis are just opposed to being run by an outside
occupying force and not fighting for
the honor of Saddam. This is the possibility neocons fear most.
The sentiment has, however, certainly been witnessed by innumerable
reports from Iraq, which have quoted many Iraqis as stating that, while
they are grateful to the US Army for removing Saddam from power, they
would prefer that it leave their country as soon as possible.
Arrest Deflecting Attention from the War on Terror
President Bush and Co. will probably emphasize the capture of Saddam
as the greatest moment in modern history, we shouldn't forget the broader
context and the rationale that has led the US thus far: the war on terror.
New evidence shows that the prosecution of this terror 'war' has some
shortcomings. Take, for example, a recent report
from the US Government itself on anti-terrorist financing initiatives,
which reveals that:
law enforcement still has no clear idea of how terrorists move their
money and that the FBI, which is the lead agency in tracking terrorist
assets, still doesn't 'systematically collect or analyze' such information.
It concluded that the Justice and Treasury departments have fallen more
than a year behind in developing plans to attack terrorist financial
mechanisms, such as the use of diamonds and gold to hide assets."
article quotes a "…senior US official" as saying:
desperately need to revitalize our effort to choke off terrorist financing,
because until we cut that off, we have not crippled Al-Qaida's ability
to attack us… we started out well, picked all the low-hanging fruit,
and then, as we have squeezed, they have simply moved on to different
obvious, but seldom-cited truth is that terrorism will never be eliminated
until the motivations behind it are. Governments can invest as much
money, time and technology as they want into fighting terrorism, but
human ingenuity will always prevail in the end. To be sure, they can
increase their chances of success by such methods, but the terrorist
threat can never be entirely eliminated by policing. Any individual
who is determined and fanatic enough can wreak untold havoc in countless
ways, with even the bare minimum of funds and technology. That is the
nature of terrorism, and the nature of our age. Capturing Saddam Hussein,
while a great morale and propaganda boost for the US Government, may
not end an Islamic terrorist campaign that began before his downfall
and which had no use for him anyway. The great danger for the American
people is that, while caught up
in the inevitable Super Bowl-style euphoria over Saddam's arrest, other,
more pertinent issues are likely to be further ignored. Take, for example,
'Forgotten' Front: Afghanistan
war there has cost $50 billion so far, and is not over yet. The vanquished
Taliban have been allowed to regroup, aided by Pakistani tribesmen,
forcing the US to launch a 2,000-man
assault by far the biggest since the war to reclaim territory
wrested from government control. According
to the Independent,
deputy governor of Zabul admits most of his province is now in Taliban
hands, officials report that the situation is much the same in neighbouring
Oruzgan, while about half the territory in Kandahar has slipped out
of government control. In the dusty town of Spin Boldak close to the
border with Pakistan in the east, where the Taliban was born, black
and green flags celebrate its rebirth.
forces in Afghanistan and the multinational International Security Assistance
Force (Isaf) have come under fire more times in the past three months
than the previous 15. This year, 25 American and Isaf soldiers have
been killed and 28 injured. The number of Afghans, allied and enemy,
killed, according to the US military, is 'several thousand.' More than
400 Taliban fighters were said to have been killed in September."
the forces of the elusive Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, the anti-American
guerrillas now include a third faction:
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, created by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence
as a mujahedin leader against the Russians, and a past favoured recipient
of CIA largesse, is an increasingly active player in the anti-Western
report also notes that American troops in Afghanistan are beginning
to see an influx of foreign fighters and tactics such as suicide bombing
that had been relatively unknown before. In fact, they are specifically
noting the resemblance between guerrilla methods used in Iraq this year
with the new style of Afghan resistance. This is ironic in the extreme,
considering that before the war in Iraq that country had no interest
in teaching the Taliban about terrorist methods, and no involvement
with the Taliban's leading personalities. By invading Iraq, the US made
Saddam Hussein no friend of radical Islam into a religious hero worth
dying for. In the coming weeks, we are about to see if America's number
one enemy becomes even more powerful in captivity than he was in hiding.
it's also possible that his influence in captivity may wane, and the
neocons appear to be justified. However, it is unlikely that Hussein's
arrest will silence those other terrorists whose cause never
involved him in the first place. The American people were tricked into
thinking that winning the war on terror somehow depended on capturing
Saddam, even if he had never been involved with the events of September
11th, 2001. Unfortunately, considering the massive amount
of celebratory propaganda we are soon going to be hit with, it's likely
that the delusion will continue even as international terrorism does