The attitudes of others in the so-called international community are clearly being affected by Saddam's capture. Foreign leaders who last week were bitterly critical of the Bush Administration's sensible decision to deny the French, Germans and Russians U.S.-taxpayer-funded reconstruction contracts in Iraq have been positively civil now that the Butcher of Baghdad is in custody.
It may be that this new attitude reflects the same sort of tipping point-calculation that is at work among Iraqis. Or perhaps it is evidence of something else: A renewed concern that interrogations of Saddam Hussein himself, or of subordinates who need no longer fear his retribution, will disclose embarrassing new evidence of foreign governments' complicity in propping up the tyrrant.
Former deputy premier Tariq Aziz has already reportedly blabbed that the French and Russians had promised Saddam they would never let the UN do anything to remove him from power. Others have revealed efforts made by Communist China in the run-up to the war to enhance Iraq's air defense systems, the better to kill American and British airmen patrolling the no-fly zones. One can only imagine the discomfiture in certain capitals over the skeletons that remain in Saddam's closet - involving corrupt and/or dangerous military, financial, oil and other transactions.
Another factor is the prospect that what comes out next will only further vindicate George Bush and Tony Blair - and add to the ignominy of those who opposed the liberation of Iraq. For example, the Sunday Telegraph of London reported on December 14, that Iraqi authorities have discovered "documentary proof that Mohammed Atta, the al-Qaeda mastermind of the September 11 attacks against the U.S., was trained in Baghdad by Abu Nidal, the notorious Palestinian terrorist."
All of these considerations should help former Secretary of State James Baker's efforts to induce those who lent Saddam Hussein billions for weapons purchases and other purposes relieve the Iraqi people of his damning legacy of debt.
Finally, Democratic candidates for Mr. Bush's job are busily repositioning themselves on Iraq. This appears to reflect their own calculation that the tipping point may have been reached - and that what appeared lately to be a real political liability for the President might once again prove to be his strong suit.
The struggle to liberate Iraq is not over. More heartache and reverses are in store, some of which may prompt the short-sighted to think it still will not be accomplished. If, however, we stay the course and exhibit the resolve, competence and skillful use of the military, economic and political tools at our disposal, December 13th will indeed prove to be the beginning - not only of the end of Saddam's malignant legacy, but of a new, secure and free Iraq.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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