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Monday, January 15, 2007




(The final installment of a three-part series in which Andy Martin expresses distinctly contrarian but absolutely correct views on the passing of Saddam Hussein)

(Chicago)(January 15, 2007) Saddam, America will miss you.

The bloodthirsty manner in which George Bush & Company allowed you to be murdered by your Shiite enemies will reverberate through the Middle East for a generation, maybe longer.

You were America's best friend in the Middle East, strongest ally and most reliable partner. Only you didn't know it and neither did George Bush.

Adding to your luster you went to your dearth with dignity, as a lynch mob catcalled and acted with bloodthirsty bravado towards a condemned man.

You were also Israel's best guy in the Middle East. The Israelis, those famously self-destructive people who always accuse their enemies of "never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity," while acting in the same fashion themselves, will find your loss tragic, perhaps even fatal.

How can I sing your praises when the U.S. Government excoriated you in life and celebrated you in death? Well, look at the record.

In the deathless words of Paul Bremer, "We got him." That's you. We got you. At the time of your capture in December, 2003 I wrote a column arguing that with you finally in the hands of the Americans the real insurgency would now begin. And it did.

Of course, I was attacked by the right-wing nut jobs for telling the truth and correctly predicting the future. A prophet is not without honor. I could see what was coming. Only Bush & Co. could not.

Now you are all dead. Paul Bremer suffers the ultimate ignominy. He endures a living death, a daily death of being held in contempt for his incompetent stewardship of Iraq. The Iraq Study Group never mentioned his name; he has been erased, the final victim of commissars who like their Russian predecessors erase faces and names from history. You, at least, have become a martyr. Bush, Bremer, Saddam. Your light will shine long after B&B's have dimmed. And the Bush dynasty? Don't ask. Jeb says he has no future. And he doesn’t.

Why was it that we never saw in you the fine qualities of a steadfast ally and reliable partner? Well, you were just as much of a bloodthirsty psychopath as your enemies. You ruled Iraq with insane sons, with a criminal clique of murderers. You were not a lace-curtain dictator.

But until the time April Glaspie came into your courts and said that "Kuwait is a far off place, of which George Bush (I) knows little," and virtually licensed your invasion of that principality, Iraq was a pretty free place. Not free by the standards of New York and London, but free by the standards of Tehran and Tripoli.

Of course like the Mubareks and Saudis and al-Assads and all of the other tin pot despots of the Middle East you jailed your opponents, tortured them, and often killed them. But then doesn’t the CIA now send its prisoners to Egypt to be tortured? How could the Saddam "dynasty" be any different than the "Bush dynasty" when you both torture your opponents and imprison them without due process of law? Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are more alike than different. As subsequent events have proven.

Yes, you killed a lot more people than Bush did, a lot more, but that's only because you were headquartered in a more dangerous neighborhood than Washington. But are small murders any more morally exculpatory than mass murders? You were executed for a handful of crimes, but allowed to escape a verdict for mass murder. So will it be with Bush pere et fils.

So, what went right between us? Well, America encouraged you to attack Iran in 1980. Iran was America's biggest enemy, then as now. And you took the bait. You wasted a million young Iraqi lives to do America's dirty business. We gave you the gas to drive off to war. Literally. You were our friend. Rummy (Donald Rumsfeld) was given a great welcome; he will be forever linked with you in the famous picture taken in 1983.

The Kurds. Well, Nixon betrayed them, and Reagan betrayed them. The Republicans betrayed them all the way back to 1920. Why should the Bushes be any different? We betrayed the Kurds, again, in 1991 because you were more important than the Kurds. And you were. Was it worth removing you to cement the history and future of Kurdistan?

Why did those cunning Israelis hate you so? Of course, in the chaos of the First Gulf War you launched missiles on Israel. You were frustrated, irritated. But by then America had lost you, and launched Iraq on the fundamentalist road from which it may never return, at least not in my lifetime.

The Israelis lobbied young George Bush to attack, attack, and attack. "Saddam is our number one enemy," they said. Poor fool, he believed them. But there is a world of difference between being a nation's number one enemy and number one nuisance. Israelis knew that you didn't have the bomb, even if George Bush didn't. They knew you were a nuisance not a nemesis.

The greatest loser from the Second Gulf war? Israel.

Still, they goaded poor, helpless George Bush and his neo-cons into attacking. "The Road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad" they said with utter contempt for reality in 2002. Now we know better. Maybe even George Bush and hapless Condo Rice realize the reverse is true: the road to Baghdad runs through Jerusalem. And that road is still empty and untraveled.

On balance you did Israel much more good than harm. Yes, you sent a few dollars to the families of the departed freedom fighters. Symbolically, you were an irritant. But you don't fight wars to remove irritants. Only know we know that painful truism. Too late.

More importantly, you remained a steadfast opponent of the mullahs until the day you were removed; maybe that’s why you could never believe America would attack. You saw our own vital interests better than we did. You were also Israel's great bulwark against Persian imperialism and adventurism. Israel will come to realize that truth, also too late.

The Iranians could huff and puff but ultimately they could not cross Iraq. Now Iraq is an open highway to the "Shiite crescent." Or so they say. The Israelis are always manufacturing enemies and mangling friends. So let it be with you, Saddam (look at what a mess they have made of the Americans, their friends; you are in good company.)

George Bush could have been a great president. He had conservative majorities in Congress. He could have strengthened America and left a powerful nation even more powerful. Instead, he has squandered our fortune pursuing you. Over a trillion dollars (they won’t admit to that number, but it's true) have vanished pursuing the illusion that Saddam was an enemy.

You traveled along road from "Best Bud" in 1983 to "Archenemy" in 1990? Who lost Iraq then? Who lost it again in 2003? Now you belong to the history books.

There are two great rivers that run through Iraq. The Tigris and the Euphrates. But there is a third great river, seen only dimly in the mists of Arab history: the River of Tears.

I vividly remember the sad day when my good friend Merwyn came into the library at prep school crying, "They have killed the king." Indeed, they had. Iraq had descended into a chaos from which it has never recovered, never escaped. That was 1958.

My heart cried for the people of Iraq then. But Iraq was to be victimized by insanity, decade after decade, occupied by aliens from a strange world of dictatorship, of bloodthirsty revenge and revanche. Sadly, Arab nationalism has never built a nation. Now we know. The last "good old days" Baghdad has known came under a British king, a Hashemite; he was murdered too.

And I fear America is now descending into an international chaos from which it may not be so easy to escape. Since 2003 the world has become a more dangerous place, for George Bush and for us. His enemies are triumphant, on the march. Extremism, fundamentalism. Poor, George, he still believes America is a safer because Saddam is gone. Do they really believe that in Israel as well? We have exchanged one friend who acted like an enemy, for a bunch of enemies who will never act like friends.

In Washington, Saddam, they miss you already.

Yes, strange and sad to say, we do miss you. And more to come in the days ahead. We have ransomed your place in history with the treasure of Emperor Bush. Come to think of it, that was America's treasure. In money, in power, in lives and respect. And now it is all gone, gone to dust, Saddam, just like you.

Bye, bye, Saddam. And, as you and George Bush sink slowly into the sands of history, two Ozymandian relics, no one will come to love you more than George Bush himself. Father and son. They will both wonder, "How did we take someone who did our bidding, an asset if not an ally, and kill him off? And make the world a lot worse off than it was?

Good question.

NEXT: COMING, a worldwide excusive Inside the Bush White House. Only on


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