Reflections on Saddam's Capture

Well, they finally did it. U.S. troops have finally captured Saddam Hussein.

My first thought was: This is the modern day Hitler? Say what you will about Adolf; he wasn't taken alive by the henchmen of the bourgeoisie.

Naturally, the pro-war crowd is thrilled. Ironically, the sheer hilarity of the U.S. military's previous inability to capture a single man somehow makes the present success seem all the sweeter. After all, the people who opposed the war all along weren't saying, 'We shouldn't invade Iraq , because we won't even be able to catch Saddam.' (Some of the smarter ones may have anticipated this: After all, we still haven't caught Osama bin Laden.) On the contrary, the bulk of the arguments questioned whether U.S. troops had the moral right to topple another country's government, and to charge another ruler with 'crimes against humanity,' etc. And I think even those who favored the war would have to admit, that it would have been pretty bad had Bush said before the invasion, 'We need to invade Iraq, but be prepared: our troops may be in there getting picked off daily, and it might take up to seven months to capture Saddam.'

But now that it has taken this long to catch him, I guarantee you the war hawks are going to gloat as if Saddam's capture somehow proves that they were right and the war critics were wrong.

Of course, the Bush Administration must be overjoyed with the capture because, not only does it give a few days of coverage of Bush's congratulatory speeches, but it also will allow for extensive coverage and analysis of a trial for Saddam. Rather than hearing day after day how many American troops were wounded or killed in Iraq, we will get to hear day after day about how awful Saddam was.

Naturally, these revelations will be cited as further proof of the justice of our invasion and occupation. I have written elsewhere that, in his State of the Union case for war, Bush devoted (by my count) only 136 out of 1,195 words to the goal of Iraqi freedom; the bulk of the case was that Saddam was harboring weapons of mass destruction. So I'll repeat it here: No matter how gruesome Saddam's rule was'and I certainly do not deny that he was a brutal killer'that was not Bush's official reason for our invasion, and it was not the reason for which the American public gave its tacit approval.

Despite the undoubted benefits of the capture for the Bush Administration, I still can't help but wonder if it will undermine the occupation in the long run. After all, presumably American troops will continue killing and dying in 'liberated' Iraq . Will the 'Moslem fanatics' still be dismissed as loyalists to Saddam? Or will Americans finally admit that foreign people might legitimately dislike being ruled by Washington , D.C. ?

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Bob Murphy's picture
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