A Cautious Man
December 15, 2003
 
Then You're Outta That Hole and Back Up on the Street
In light of the fact that I'm actually getting comments now (from someone who isn't amused by "Unelectable"), I better make sure that I say something about the capture of Saddam Hussein.

We got him. Good. Excellent, in fact. Turns out the fearsome tyrant was cringing in a hole somewhere, with two guns and a lot of U.S. cash for company. He didn't use the guns, and I don't think he'll be spending that cash anytime soon. In fact, from news reports it sounds like it was the cash which helped bring about his capture. When our troops found $750,000 stashed in a crude hut, they decided that was a good area to look around further.

It's definitely too soon to tell how this will affect the long-term prospects for our involvement in Iraq. That hasn't stopped some from trying, or others from criticizing those who have tried. It didn't take long for the focus to shift from Iraq policy to U.S. politics, though, as if the capture in-and-of-itself solves all the problems. It's important, but it doesn't take the place of a well-designed plan for bringing about a peaceful Iraq.

Be that as it may, it's interesting to see how some people just have to start on the attack, as if "wrong-thinking" was somehow a punishable offense in the United States. Andrew Sullivan is on a tear, posting examples of what he calls "thinly-veiled disappointment at the capture of Saddam." He calls these examples "Galloway Award Nominees", after an anti-war British politician who was thought to have been receiving payments from some unsavory Middle Eastern types. Actually, the quote from Galloway used by Mr. Sullivan isn't so nonsensical: "This will not stop the Iraqi resistance. If anything, it may set the resistance free, if you like, from the cloud of Saddam Hussein, and transform it into a purely national resistance movement without the charge that it's being controlled from behind by the deposed president." That's not disappointment, that's an abundance of caution. Mr. Sullivan also disses Juan Cole, a very knowledgeable commentator, who had mused: "Those who dislike US policies or who are opposed to the idea of occupation no longer need be apprehensive that the US will suddenly leave and allow Saddam to come back to power. They may therefore now gradually throw off their political timidity, and come out more forcefully into the streets when they disagree with the US. " Again, that's not "disappointment", but some cautious thinking about the next steps in a land where only the firm boot of the Baath Party kept a lid on the competing interests in Iraq.

[Edited on 12/16 to add] The always-reliable Tom Tomorrow comes through, by introducing us to The Patriotism Police.

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