Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Saddam's Surrender: The effect of Saddam's capture will no doubt be multi-faceted, and effect change to varying degrees. I think the least noticeable effect will be the suicide bombers and the attacks on our soldiers. These attacks are motivated by the religious zealots (my intelligence sources tell me) and not out of any love for Saddam. While it is likely that Saddam held sway over his people simply by virtue of the length of time he ruled the country, I can't imagine that many people would be willing to die for his sake - given that he's never coming back. Despots inspire fear, but rarely love or blind devotion - at least not at the level of the people. Look at Hitler: only his closest aides and confidants were really in thrall; the masses were either afraid or resentful. When he killed himself, many were shocked, but they had more important things to deal with like running from the Russians.

Nonetheless, his capture will have a profound effect on the Iraqis in a different way. They are no longer under his thumb. It is clear that while he was on the run, people still feared him. Here's some proof: After Uday and Qsay were killed, they were buried in a royal plot, and treated with the appropriate reverence that princes deserved. What happened, then, when Saddam was captured? Their graves were desecrated and their remains fed to dogs. This shows that even in the most Saddam-centric region of Iraq, he was only feared, never loved. The people must now look to themselves for leadership; something they have not done for decades. One hopes their traditional tribal governance can fill the void left by the defeated Baathists. While this new leadership may devolve into Sunni-Shia sniping, I suppose the optimist in me would say that those leaders would choose to view this as an opportunity for success, rather than revenge. Am I simply that naive?

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