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Bully Is Captured

Natalia J. Garland

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A criminal has tumbled from his luxurious palace into a cramped eight-foot hole in the earth. On Saturday, December 12th, around 8:30 p.m., American soldiers found Saddam Hussein alive in a hole near the Tigris River. But truth cannot be buried. What a day of liberation for the Iraqi people, a day of national pride for Americans, and a day of gratitude to all the soldiers and civilians who lost their lives to overcome a cruel and selfish bully.

Could the removal of this bully have been accomplished in any other way? Every democratic nation and those friendly to democracies seemed to react enthusiastically to Saddam's capture as good news. Some people, however, maintain the opinion that the same result or better results could have been brought about through discussion and negotiation. Setting aside the different strategical choices which various political leaders might have made, and without minimizing the extreme seriousness of the choice of war, let us take a look at two of the men who were responsible for forming many of the decisions and coalition activities which led to Saddam's capture.

Credit ought to be given foremost to President George W. Bush and to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Theirs was an unwavering partnership in purpose: to free the Iraqi people from a sadistic dictator and to secure the civilized world from terrorism. Can their motivation and commitment really be doubted at this point? Even by those who would have chosen a different course of action? Even by those who have legitimate grievances against America? Have the results of their collaboration not become more tangible? Is there really any civilized person who did not breathe a sigh of relief when the news was announced on Sunday?

Tony Blair expressed it well. "It removes the shadow that has been hanging over them [the Iraqi people] for too long of the nightmare of a return to the Saddam regime. This fear is now removed." Yes, let us hope that the removal of this bully will release the Iraqis to rebuild their true society and culture. Saddam will be brought to justice, but other anti-democratic cells continue to hate. These cells also have some decision-making to do: whether to retaliate or to accept defeat now.

Here are some other reactions to Saddam's capture. "In Yemen, Mohammed Abdel Qader Mohammadi, 50, said he was surprised Saddam didn't fight his capture. 'I expected him to resist or commit suicide before falling into American hands. He disappointed a lot of us, he's a coward.'" Those are strong words, and a sobering description. The government of Spain had this to say: "'The time has come for him to pay for his crimes,' said Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, an outspoken supporter of the war to oust Saddam, despite widespread opposition at home. 'He is responsible for the killing of millions of people over the last 30 years. He is a threat to his people and to the entire world.'" France, Germany, Australia, and Japan also immediately extended their congratulations.

For those individuals and communities who have grievances against America, perhaps Tony Blair's words can provide a healing perspective. "Muslims were Saddam's victims, Muslims today in Iraq are the beneficiaries of his demise. Let's remember all those Iraqis that died under Saddam, the remains of 400,000 human beings already found in mass graves." It was Saddam who abused his position of power to persecute innocent Muslims. It was Americans and brave supporters who gave their lives to end this persecution and to open the possibility of a free Iraq.

President Bush was steadfast in his resolve to engage in a successful war. If only in terms of his ability to finish what he started, he has to be worthy of praise. He did his job. Nobody has to like the president or America, but credit must be given where credit is due. It is as though the humiliation of the Vietnam experience no longer defines the limits of American moral or military capacity. (Not that any war should be fought for this reason.) In Vietnam we experienced a waste of life and resources over several years. It has always been a national wound and shame. President Bush's determination has enabled us to lift our heads with love of country and has empowered our will to create effective humanitarian partnerships.

Thirty-five years after Saddam came into power, two years and three months after the terrorist attacks on America, and nine months after the beginning of the war in Iraq, there is closure to one man's oppressive rule and direct threat to all peace-loving peoples. Let us hope and pray for peace on earth this Christmas, and let us vow to appreciate and protect one another's rights. That would be the best way to say thanks to the soldiers and civilians who sacrificed their lives and to those who continue to guard civilization. (Written 12/15/03: bibliography available.)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2003 Natalia J. Garland