Anorak News | Saddam Busted

Saddam Busted

by | 15th, December 2003

‘WE’VE been here before. Only a couple of months ago, Scotland Yard’s finest were supposed to have tracked down Lord Lucan, only to discover that the man in question was a heavy drinking Lancashire folk singer by the name of Jungle Barry.

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And as American troops pulled the man they are claiming is Saddam Hussain out of a cramped hideaway under the floor of a mud hut near Tikrit, we had the strangest feeling of déjà vu.

Admittedly, we can’t explain why Jungle Barry should have been hidden away in an 8ft-deep hole in Iraq rather than indulging his passion for booze and backgammon in Goa.

But the resemblance was startling – in particular, the long grey beard and the tell-tale signs of years of abuse.

In Barry’s case, it was self-abuse; in Saddam’s case, it was the systematic abuse of his own country and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his own people.

It is little wonder that his capture was the cause for celebration in many quarters of Iraq and disbelief outside the country among people for whom his defiance of the Americans had achieved mythical status.

“It will not be lost on the ‘Arab Street’ that Saddam surrendered without firing a shot from the pistol he has carried since his youth,” says the Telegraph, “and that he opted out of the form of martyrdom he has urged upon so many of his countrymen, including his own sons.

“At times like this, people are reminded of the banality of evil: in Saddam’s case, that evil has an extra dimension of sheer cowardice.”

The Guardian says the capture of Saddam is “a more truly liberating, emancipating moment than the bloodily chaotic fall of Baghdad”.

But it worries that it may be the cause of a more open, potentially divisive internal rivalry for the post-Saddam reins.

The trick over the coming months, it says, will be to ensure that guns that yesterday were fired into the sky in celebration are not levelled horizontally by Iraqis against Iraqis.

One place where there will be huge celebrations (if not expressed in quite the same way) is the White House – and, to a lesser extent, Downing Street.

President Bush’s poll ratings have been on the slide since the spring when Baghdad fell to American forces as the guerrilla campaign against the US troops took its toll on public confidence.

But as Bruce Anderson writes in the Independent, the capture of Saddam alive is the best Christmas present the Bush administration could have wished for – except perhaps the capture of Saddam dead.

Indeed, had Saddam’s capture been announced a few months hence, Bush could expect to be reelected with the same kind of majority that the deposed Iraqi dictator used to get.

All of which makes one wonder why, given the cynical way in which Bush manipulated the electoral process last time around, the Americans didn’t keep Saddam alive in his hiding place until October next year and then produce him to a startled world.’

Posted: 15th, December 2003 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink