On Sunday an Iraqi court found Saddam Hussein guilty and sentenced him to death. The fact that the court was the creature of a foreign power and that the proceedings reeked of a Stalinist show trial do not affect the justice of the verdict. Saddam is guilty as sin.
Of what is he guilty? Saddam Hussein is guilty of governing Iraq. The specific charges against him-murders, massacres, wholesale slaughters, etc.-are subsets of the main charge. All these vicious crimes, and more, are what it takes to govern Iraq.
Like most of the world, Iraq has two possible states: tyranny and anarchy. You can have the one, or the other, but nothing in between. Of the two, for both Iraqis and the world, tyranny is vastly preferable. Today’s Washington Post quotes an Iraqi Sunni as saying, “Saddam was accused of killing 148 people. Now, more than 148 innocent people are getting killed in Iraq every day.” Saddam’s Iraq was a bitter enemy of al-Qaeda. Thanks to George W. Bush’s discovery of Woodrow Wilson’s stash of “Democracy” absinthe, Iraq is now al-Qaeda’s biggest success story, not to mention recruiting ground.
With even the Bush White House giving up on “staying the course” in Iraq, the question becomes, how might we walk this dog back? The first course correction must be in our objective. Instead of trying to bring democracy to Iraq, our directing strategic question should be, how can we restore tyranny in place of the current anarchy?
An obvious first step is to replace the current “democratic government” in Baghdad-the “government” of a non-existent state-with a new dictator. Some voices in Washington are quietly suggesting we will soon do this. An occupying power should be able to stage a coup d’etat, even if it cannot maintain order in the streets.
Then comes a hard question: should the new Iraqi dictator be Sunni or Shiite? In answer, we need to realize that in Iraq, as in Afghanistan, we have gotten ourselves on the wrong side in a civil war. But while that is true locally in Afghanistan-we are allied with the Tajiks and the Uzbeks against the Pashtun, and the Pashtun always win-it is true regionally in Iraq. While Shiites are a majority in Iraq, they are a minority in the Islamic world. The countries that are key to American interests in the region-Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia-are majority Sunni and are governed by Sunni regimes. The leading Shiite power in the region, Iran, is our principal local opponent, and thus far a great beneficiary of our invasion of Iraq. Strategically, the new dictator we install should be a Sunni.
One can add a few more credentials. The new dictator, if he is to have legitimacy, must be an opponent of the American occupation. Ideally, he should be someone who has suffered personally at the hands of the Americans. He should be able to turn off the Sunni insurgency, to facilitate an American exit. He should be able to call an effective army to the colors quickly, to prevail in the Sunni-Shiite civil war that is already underway and will intensify rapidly if briefly once a Sunni is put back in power. He should be someone who knows how to make Iraq work, as well as Arab states do work. Of course, he should have no qualms at inflicting the utmost brutality on his own people, since that is what governing Iraq requires.
Fortunately, we have just such a man at hand. He’s tanned, rested and ready. A quick extraction by Delta Force and presto!, Saddam Hussein can be president of Iraq once more. It should take about 48 hours for the Baathists to slit the throat of every al-Qaeda operative in the country. Saddam will, I’m sure, be gracious in victory, allowing us to withdraw our beaten army gracefully. Unlike the current Iraqi government, I doubt he will ally with the Iranians, who will have tasted their victory turn to ashes in their mouths.
Yes, I know, it’s a winter night’s dream. Monarchies can pull off such dramatic reversals, while republics must wallow endlessly in their blunders, their puny “leaders” too terrified of uncomprehending publics to escape the mire.
One understands why, according to the Washington Times, as the President of Iraq was led from the courtroom, sentenced to death, “There was a hint of a smile on Saddam’s face.”
WILLIAM S. LIND, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.