Let Saddam have his country back | AspenTimes.com

Let Saddam have his country back

Michael Cleverly

I sure hope they don’t execute Saddam. If they hang him, then we won’t be able to give back the keys to his country, which has been my advice for quite some time now. Sure he’s a monster, but we’ve cuddled up to monsters in the past, and we are right now – it’s called “our national interest.”The phrase “our national interest” should never be confused with the phrase “moral high ground.” In fact, with the Bush administration, they often qualify as antonyms. I suspect that if you take all the governments that we support, and rate them on some sort of a moral scale, that half of them are just as corrupt and cruel as the governments we oppose.Remember a guy named Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, remember Libya? Gaddafi was supposed to be the most dangerous person in the world, a real nut job, a loose cannon. He exported more evil than Saddam ever did. He blew up Pan Am flight 103, a passenger jet full of people. He helped finance the “Black September” movement that murdered the Israeli athletes in Munich. In 1984, Yvonne Fletcher, a British police constable, was shot down outside the Libyan Embassy in London; she was shot by a burst of machine-gun fire that came from inside the building. Reagan hated Gaddafi’s guts; he held Gaddafi responsible for the 1985 bombing of “La Belle,” a nightclub in West Berlin frequented by U.S. servicemen. In 1987, when the merchant vessel “MV Eksund” was intercepted, it contained a shipment of arms on its way from Libya to the IRA.This guy’s “asshole” credentials were impeccable. Where’s Gaddafi now? Right where he always was, right where he wants to be, running Libya. Are we invading Libya? No, and Libya actually had “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” What we’re doing is sending tourists over there. What changed? Did Muammar have an epiphany, suddenly become a better human being? I doubt it.Experts believe that he was swayed by the notion of “realpolitik,” (good old-fashioned pragmatism). World sanctions were taking their toll on Libya; economic prosperity was becoming a memory. In 1999 Gaddafi agreed to hand over the two men accused of planting the bomb on Pan Am 103. In 2003 he accepted responsibility for the bombing and agreed to pay $2.7 billion in damages to the families of the victims. He pledged to help fight al-Qaida two years prior to 9/11. After the attacks, he was the first Muslim leader to denounce them. Of the attacks, he said, “Irrespective of the conflict with America, it is a human duty to show sympathy with the American people and be with them at these horrifying and awesome events, which are bound to awaken human conscience.” In 2003 Gaddafi allowed international inspectors into Libya to dismantle his WMDs. He is currently considered one of the more moderate African leaders and is an outspoken advocate of African unity. On May 15, 2006, the U.S. State Department announced that it would restore full diplomatic relations with Libya. The State Department also stated that it would remove Libya from the list of nations that supported terrorism.Is changing your tune the same as changing? Perhaps, if the effect is the same.Remember the “Chinese Communist Threat”? The tanks in Tiananmen Square, the student dissidents? Now it’s 20 years later, and you can’t walk a block in Beijing without tripping over a McDonald’s. You have to go into a KFC to ask directions to a Chinese restaurant. I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t send in the troops at the time, to shove our form of government down their throats.Then there’s Viet Nam. Everyone I know who’s been there says that it’s a remarkably beautiful place, great people, everything. No one thought it was beautiful when we were there.Apart from the unpleasantness with Iran (who cares?) and that little dust-up with Kuwait, Saddam tended to keep things domestic, annihilating Kurds and such. Now the Iraqis are annihilating each other, with our guys sitting in the middle. I say give him his goddamn country back. Sure it’ll be a little messy for a while, but you can bet the messiness will be finite. Sure he’ll be a little pissed at us. What’s he going to do? Attack us with his WMDs? Guess not. Make Iraq a safe haven for terrorists? Seems to me the terrorists already have plenty of safe havens. Know where they are? In countries that have governments we support – Pakistan and Afghanistan.This may require a little crow-eating on W’s part. “Yo, dude, my bad,” but he won’t be saying anything that everyone on the planet doesn’t already know. The result could be Saddam chilling out, coming around like Muammar. It’s about the economics.So let’s give Saddam the keys to his palaces, maybe send him a couple “Playmates of the Month” to make nice, and bring our people home. After that we can work on making Gaddafi the U.S. ambassador to North Korea.