Savor it. Hitler deprived the Allies of the satisfaction of executing him. Stalin died in his bed. Pol Pot died of natural causes. But Saddam Hussein, that vicious, depraved worm of a man, was plucked from his rat hole. Ah the great warrior! The author of the Mother of All Battles. The man who claimed he would drive the "invaders" from Iraq. The man who forced thousands of Iraqis to sacrifice their lives so that he could continue his squalid and luxurious spree in his many palaces. This modern day Saladin (another of his conceits) didn't even have the courage to kill himself in the end, but submitted meekly, with an offer to "negotiate."
There was a time in our history when such a triumph for our forces would have engendered universal applause and deep gratification in America. But we are not living in such a time. For liberals, no U.S. success is an unmixed blessing, and I don't mean this in the short-term political sense -- "This will hurt Howard Dean's campaign" -- though that is clearly true, but also in a more philosophical sense.
Note how nearly every liberal has been quick to emphasize, after perfunctory words of praise for the troops, that Saddam's capture opens the door to a larger United Nations role in Iraq. The New York Times editorialized two days after Saddam's capture that the United Nations should be enlisted to conduct a trial because "A tribunal picked by Americans would lack legitimacy."
Why? Is the Times suggesting that the United States cannot be trusted to conduct a fair trial? President Bush is surely right that the Iraqis themselves should try their oppressor. But not because we are incapable of doing so properly -- only because the Iraqis, as his principle victims, have the moral right to seek justice first.
Just hours prior to Saddam's capture, callers to NPR radio programs, commentators on liberal websites and lefty columnists had been baying about the terrible grossness of the Bush administration's decision to exclude French, German and Russian companies from valuable prime contracts in rebuilding Iraq. Some have suggested that those countries were prescient about the Iraq War and ought not to be penalized for it.
At least that's what they say. What they probably really think is that anyone who opposes the Bush administration is doing something right.
Consider this: Many liberals have been at pains to point out that the United States once supported Saddam Hussein. They cite the Reagan administration's decision to "tilt" toward Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. In hindsight, it was a mistake to do so. Strict neutrality would have been preferable to dirtying our hands.
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