Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Springtime for Saddam

The end of 2006 saw the dramatic conclusion of the Saddam Hussein story, brought to you by someone with a cellphone who made a YouTube clip to beat all YouTube clips. In the end, this one grainy video nullified all efforts by the “Axis of Good” to paint their ugly version of Saddam Hussein all over the history books.

If it were ever made into a movie, the farcical theater of Saddam Hussein’s last days could only be called “Trial and Error”. Of course, G.I. George Bush and the American government would have loved to see their original script brought to curtain calls of secular throngs of Iraqis dancing in the streets of Baghdad over the death of an evil man, but, sadly, they lost creative control of the project.

The opening act of Saddam’s capture would have made any Hollywood producer proud. Hell, maybe the Weinstein brothers had a hand in military policy at the time, because there could have been no better made-for-tv moment than Saddam being pulled out of a so-called “Spider Hole” covered in garbage with a suitcase of American dollars at his side. Now, anyone who has been to the Middle East, who knows anything about Muslim culture, knows that no self-respecting Arab Muslim, especially not one with an inflated ego such as Mr. Hussein’s, would be caught dead under a pile of garbage, hiding from U.S. Marines with a suitcase of dollars at his side. I mean, give me a break. Has it been so long that we do not see blatant propaganda for what it is any more? The public ate up this story, only too happy to see that this “evil man” was also a coward.

In the war of ideas, the United States tried to take his pride, to take his honor, and in the end allowed history to repeat itself by calling an end to major combat operations in discrediting Saddam Hussein. Unfortunate (depending on how you look at it) though inevitable for the swirling mess of Iraq, it did not turn out as planned.

Fast forward to the last chapter in the saga, where you have a cell phone video broadcast all over the world within hours of his death that shows a dignity to the man enduring the taunts of a violently divided Iraq. As if he knew the world would be watching, he played it masterfully. With a sound bite of “Is this the bravery of Arabs?”, Saddam will be remembered as a victim who died with honor, a martyr to young Sunnis, not an evil psychopath coward.

Just like the producers tried to make a fortune off of a sure flop, the Bush administration naively expected to gain valuable political capital through the death of someone they had gone to great lengths to paint as a worthless, evil man. As it turned out, the show itself was a success. Saddam will live forever in Iraq, the victim of aggression and bias from both his own people and the invading army.

I can’t wait to see what the Bin Laden Show will entail, if only we can get a camera crew to his cave on the Pakistani border...
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