And so the monster is dead.
And yet, Kid Various is filled with a sense of profound disappointment. Not the disappointment felt by the likes of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who’s moral compasses have become so twisted as that they are now parodies of themselves. No, if there was anyone deserving of the death penalty – it was Saddam Hussein.
The Kid is deeply distraught because this should have been a “teachable moment”, but unfortunately only ends up being a massive missed opportunity.
This should have been the defining event that proved our resolve. This should have been a fit example to our enemies, Islamist thugs of every stripe from the Assads of Syria to the Mullahs of Iran to the terrorist gangsters of Hizbullah and Hamas. This should have been the act that filled them with trepidation and served notice, “This is your future…”
Instead, because of our own ineptitude, our enemies know that they are untouchable. They are sure that we are bogged down, our will is broken, and that this amazing spectacle of an Arab autocrat actually being held accountable for his crimes – is merely an aberration, a fluke of fate.
And so what should have been a signal moment for freedom in the world, will be remembered only as historical footnote.
A missed opportunity – one of so many.
"Sic Semper Tyrannis"
Saddam’s demise serves as object lesson and example. In late 2003 every Middle Eastern autocrat saw the haggard Saddam pulled from the hole; now they’ve seen him hung. The larger message: To avoid Saddams fate means political liberalization. The message extends beyond the Arab Muslim Middle East. Iran’s mullahs see it. At some reptilian level, destructive despots like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe also understand it.and from Peters:
Everything changed in 2003. For all of its later errors in Iraq, the Bush administration altered the course of history for the better.
It may be hard to discern the deeper meaning of our march to Baghdad amid the chaos afflicting Iraq today, but President Bush got a great thing right: He recognized that the age of dictators was ending, that the era of the popular will had arrived. He and his advisers may have underestimated the difficulties involved and misread the nature of that popular will, but they put us back on the moral side of history....Supported by other English-speaking democracies, Bush acted. Breaking Europe's cynical rules, our forces invaded a dictatorship to liberate its population.
And suddenly, the world was no longer safe for tyrants.
No matter the policy failures in the wake of Baghdad's fall, the destruction of Saddam's regime remains a historical turning point. When our troops later dragged the dictator out of a fetid hole, every other president-for-life shivered at the image.
Kid Various would like to believe them. Lord knows, he wants to believe them. Particularly because they are correct in their claim that at the end of 2003, dictators across the planet were unnerved by the spectacle of Saddam being dragged out of his spiderhole to answer for his crimes. At the end of 2003, the moment was there. We had the opportunity to shout "Sic Semper Tyrannis!"But 3 years later, at the end of 2006, that moment has passed. Murderous thugs the world over no longer fear us. They laugh at us. And we will have to pay a high price to once again make them shudder at the thought of us.
But Peters also notes perhaps the noblest truth of all:
We did a great thing by overthrowing Saddam. We may have done it poorly, but we did it.