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Jewish World Review Dec. 16, 2003/ 21 Kislev, 5763

Mark Steyn

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Defiant? He's a Ba'athist who won't bath |
When I was in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, shortly after the war, a young boy showed me his schoolbook. It was like my textbooks at his age — full of doodles and squiggles and amusing additions to the illustrations. With one exception: the many pages bearing pictures of Saddam were in pristine condition. Even a bored schoolboy doesn't get so careless that he forgets where not to draw the line.

That's why Saddam looking like a wino round the back of Waterloo Station meekly submitting to a lice inspection by an American soldier is a much better photo than Saddam's bullet-riddled corpse at the end of a shoot-out. When was the last time a Middle Eastern thug wound up on the receiving end of an infidel tongue depressor? For fellow dictators like Boy Assad, the sight of the despot-turned-hobo may be a fearful premonition. For Islamist appeasers like the House of Saud, it's a reminder that the way you neutralise a troublemaker is not to throw money at him in the hopes he'll only blow other people up but to hunt him down and finish him off.

For the Palestinians, who never met a loser they weren't dumb enough to fall for (the Mufti, Nasser, Yasser), Saddam still has an honoured place in the Pantheon of Glorious Has-Beens. But for millions of Iraqis a monster has shrivelled away into a smelly bum too pathetic even to use his pistol to enjoy the martyrdom he urged on others.

Saddam, of course, attempted to reclaim his stature, but, in his current position, opportunities are few and far between. In his first interrogation at Baghdad Airport, he was asked if he'd like a glass of water, and replied: "If I drink water I will have to urinate and how can I urinate when my people are in bondage?" If there's a statue left of him in Iraq, they should chisel that on the plinth. That's now the extent of his defiance: he can refuse to use the bathroom. He's the Ba'athist who won't bath. Either that or he's already put in a call to Johnnie Cochran (OJ's lawyer) or Mark Geragos (Jacko's) and they recommended he start laying the ground for his insanity defence.

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In fairness to the non-urinator, "How can I urinate when my people are in bondage?" is a model of sound logic compared to the latest all too pissy talking-points in Europe. For months the naysayers have demanded the Americans turn over more power to the Iraqis. Okay, let's start by turning Saddam over to the Iraqis. Whoa, not so fast. The same folks who insisted there was no evidence Saddam was a threat to any countries other than his own and the invasion was an unwarranted interference in Iraqi internal affairs are now saying that Saddam can't be left to the Iraqi people, he has to be turned over to an international tribunal.

You can forget about that. The one consistent feature of the post-9/11 era is the comprehensive failure of the international order. The French use their Security Council veto to protect Saddam. The EU subsidises Palestinian terrorism. The International Atomic Energy Agency provides cover for Iran's nuclear ambitions. The UN summit on racism is an orgy of racism.

All these institutions do is enable nickel'n'dime thugs to punch above their weights. The New York Times, sleepwalking through the 21st century on bromides from the Carter era, wants the UN to run Saddam's trial because one held under the auspices of the Americans would "lack legitimacy". Au contraire, it's the willingness of Kofi Annan, Mohammed el-Baradei, Chris Patten, Mary Robinson and the other grandees of the international clubrooms to give "legitimacy" to Saddam, Kim Jong-Il, Arafat, Assad and co that disqualifies them from any role in Iraq. I've come to the conclusion that the entire international system needs to be destroyed.

I don't suppose that's a priority of the Bush Administration, or at least not until the second term. But he's in no hurry to return to the Security Council fairyland of make-believe resolutions that never get enforced. On Sunday morning, his speed-call list was restricted to the Coalition of the Willing — the prime ministers of Britain, Australia, Poland, Italy and Spain. He seems to be roughing out the contours of a new club here: dictatorships need not apply, but nor need those democracies that serve as the dictators' front men in polite society (are you listening, Jacques?).

As for the Democrats and the European media, they long ago decided that their slogan for the 2004 election is "It's the stupidity, stupid". President Bush is a moron; therefore, everything that happens must be evidence of his moronicness. I was saddened to see my old friend Mark Lawson of the Guardian falling for the canard that Mr Bush served up a "plastic turkey" for Thanksgiving and deducing from this that the President was in desperate fear of being a onetermer. No doubt he's already moved on to mocking the pathetic attempt to serve up Saddam's lice-infested head on a platter to the gullible American public just in time for Christmas.

It's just a suggestion but maybe if you're that convinced of Republican stupidity you ought to write about something else between now and, say, the start of Condi Rice's second term in 2013. The fact (if you'll forgive the word) is that things are going pretty well, and there's really no losing scenario in Iraq. Mr Bush may not succeed in bringing democracy to Mesopotamia, but so what? If he has to settle for a Musharraf and a big American base on the Syrian border, it's no skin off his back. But it's still better to have tried.

But I think he'll wind up with something close enough to a free society in Iraq. I was mighty heartened by Paul Bremer's press conference on Sunday. He made a simple announcement — "We got him!" — and the roomful of journalists erupted in jubilant cries of "Death to Saddam!" True, this turned out to be the Iraqi journalists. The western correspondents had far more mixed feelings. Oh, well. Cheer up. There'll be a new quagmire along in a minute.

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JWR contributor Mark Steyn is North American Editor of The (London) Spectator and the author, most recently, of "The Face of the Tiger," a new book on the world post-Sept. 11. (Sales help fund JWR). Comment by clicking here.

12/10/03: Rummy speaks the truth, not gobbledygook
12/02/03: War on terror can't stop with Iraq
11/24/03: It's not Vietnam and Bush is no Kennedy
11/12/03: There is a Cold War between the US and the EU
10/28/03: Muslim paranoia: Enemies made us impotent!

10/28/03:The CIA scandal is important not because it put an agent's life at risk — it didn't — but because it shows that US Intelligence is either obstructive or inept
10/08/03: Palestinian death cult
09/29/03: Bring on the capitalists
09/22/03: Here comes General Clark, his policies will follow shortly
09/17/03: Don't wait for government protection
09/11/03: Predators aren't looking for peace
09/02/03: This is Hillary's moment — You go, girl!
08/29/03: There are now calls for greater UN involvement in Iraq. Thatís the last thing the country needs
08/26/03: There's only one hyperpower — so everything is our fault
08/04/03: The White Man's Burden
07/29/03: Bill Clinton got this right
06/25/03: It's Mullah time!
05/07/03: What counts is what a guy does when he's not talking
04/30/03: It's named UNSCAM for a very good reason!
04/14/03: Movers and shakers have moved on to the next 'disaster'
03/25/03: Give Saddam credit
03/18/03: 'Eurabia' will have to look after herself
02/27/03: Death wish
02/19/03: The curtain will come down on the peaceniks
02/10/03: Let's quit the UN
02/03/03: Columbia reality-check
01/29/03: Go forth and multiply
01/09/03: America's fake identity crisis
12/31/02: GOP underperforms, but Dems are laughable
11/26/02: A bombing pause --- for 12 months!?
10/30/02: Stop making excuses for Muslim extremists
09/27/02: The more inventively you try to ''explain'' the Islamist psychosis as a rational phenomenon to be accommodated, the more you risk sounding just as nutty as them
08/23/02: Battered Westerner Syndrome inflicted by myopic Muslim defenders
08/09/02: Friends in low places
08/02/02: Armageddon out of here
07/26/02: Enjoy the ''scandal'' while you can, lads
07/16/02: Arafat is toast; Bush knows it --- so why doesn't the rest of the world?
07/10/02: Hey, FBI: So, denial really is a river in Egypt!
06/20/02: A fight to the finish
06/11/02: Rock, royalty a good match
05/31/02: Unless we change our ways ... the world faces a future where things look pretty darn good
05/24/02: Sweet land of liberty: Britain and Europe have free governments, but only in the US are the people truly free
05/14/02: Extreme hypocrisy in the pursuit of 'peace' is ...
05/10/02: The home office of extremism
05/01/02 Slipping down the Eurinal of history: France, the joke is on you
04/23/02 It's time to snap out of Arab fantasy land
04/16/02 Mideast war exposes 'ugly Europeans'
04/09/02 Arafat has begun his countdown to oblivion. Now it's time to crush the Palestinian uprising
03/27/02 The good, the bad and the Gallic shrug
03/20/02 Grand convocation of the weird

© 2002, Mark Steyn