The Political Werewolf
If you know me, then you know I'm a big political nut. So, I've decided to add my own personal flavor to the realm of political discussion. We'll be talking about various issues - some of them having to do with current events, others perhaps more on a philosophical level. But in any case, you're free to respond to whatever you read here, either by E-mail or on the message board.
All righty, here we go.
Catching the Rat
I don't think any of us were expecting to turn on our televisions on Sunday morning and expect that we'd be watching reports about the capture of Saddam Hussein.
His capture was not only a very proud moment for our military, but also a very telling indictment on the sort of ruler he was. While dozens of his followers were strapping bombs to themselves and committing suicide in his name, Saddam was hiding like a schoolboy playing hooky for the first time, and gave up without firing a shot, even at himself. There was none of the indignant defiance that he had displayed prior to the toppling of his regime - he was just as frazzled mentally as he was physically when he surrended to American troops. In the eyes of history, Saddam Hussein will be portrayed as not just a vicious dictator and murderer of his own people, but also as a chicken who let everyone else die for him.
Make no bones about it - this is a fantastic chapter in our country's history. Whether you were for this war or not, the effect of this event cannot be denied: the world has just been made a lot safer. The insurgents who were bent on destabilizing the country have lost their role model and likely their primary financier. No longer can the Iraqi people live in fear of this tyrant ever getting a sniff of power again. His torture devices are now obsolete. His mass graves will no longer be filled. Now, we may finally get to the bottom of the issue regarding the whereabouts of his Weapons of Mass Destruction.
The day of the capture, I made it a point not to make any political hay out of this. If a Democrat had nabbed Saddam, I'd be just as glad that it happened, and just as proud as the guy in charge for doing it. For the most part, we all agreed that this was a moment to come together and appreciate what's just happened. It was almost like 9/11 again - only this time, we were coming together around a much more positive event. We knew that the fighting likely wouldn't end immediately, nor would the number of American casualties cease to grow, but at least for the time being we could all breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that the guy in charge of hundreds of thousands of murders was in our custody.
Now, I think enough time has passed so that we can step back and look at how this momentous event will shape our country's future for the next year or so. Needless to say, President Bush has now all but guaranteed himself re-election, barring any major health concerns. Those of us who supported the war from the start have been, to some degree, vindicated. (Only when the WMD information becomes readily evident, though, will we be able to go ahead and say "Told you so".) Once again, we have shown the world that our military - in the hands of the right people - have enough patience and determination to reach their goal, whatever that may be. (And if Osama bin Laden is still alive, no doubt he's seeing this and starting to get nervous.)
The liberals? Well, I don't want to go to hard on you guys. This is not the sort of thing I rub detractors' noses in. As long as you can admit that motives and conspiracies that you might suspect aside, the end result was a good one, then I don't have any beef with you. Although you do have to concede one thing: there was no way Saddam would've been toppled - much less captured - if someone hadn't gone in there and rung his bell.
This is the perfect time to remind the public of one immutable - albeit hard-to-swallow for some - fact about the world we live in. War is hell, but it gets the job done. Philosopher John Locke theorized that we as humans give up peace for freedom - that is, we're free to do as we choose, but we're also a target of those who dislike our free will. It's nice to think of how lovely the world will be if everyone just transcended above the notion of aggression and achieved some sort of global nirvana, but that's just not going to happen. Too many people in this world hate too many other people, and this hatred is too deep and too pervasive to ignore. If there are people who want to see this country and its foundations tumble, then we have to be able to use force in order to protect ourselves. It's noble to think that we should all just melt down our weapons and give each other a hug, but look around. India and Pakistan are hardly pals. Islamic fundamentalists loathe the Western world. The Russians hate the Chechens. Palestinians hate Israelis. Montagues hate Capulets. It's naïve to think that everyone is going to suddenly forget their prejudices.
These are dark days for liberalism. The economy has picked up considerably, as evidenced by the Dow getting back over 10,000 last week. Bush has basically swiped one of the Democrats' strongest issues - Medicare - out from under their noses. And now, the war that they have opposed since the very beginning has crossed a significant milestone. Howard Dean still thinks that Bush hasn't made the country any safer, despite us bagging Saddam. Some people have even accused Bush of conspiring to announce Saddam's captured - which supposedly took place a long time ago - when it would give him the most political advantage. (Psychologists like to call this sort of thing "projection".)
Talking with those people is equal parts amusing and frustrating. Sometimes, you have to laugh at the way some people will bend over backwards in order to avoid giving Bush the pat on the back he deserves. Bush didn't capture Saddam - the troops did, some have said. Well, yeah, but who put those troops in there? Sure, getting Saddam is great and all, but what has he done about AIDS? What if someone even worse than Saddam takes power now? Where's Osama? How come you didn't get him sooner? The sad thing is, their priorities are so out of whack that trying to reason with them is no use. Funding for the arts is more important than protecting our country and liberating another.
I know I've gone a little scattershot, but only because an event of this enormity gives me a lot to say. But it bears repeating: now that we've captured Saddam Hussein, we've made both the US and Iraq a lot safer.
Previous columns:12/9/03: Thank God for Freedom of Religion
10/8/03: We're Not Gonna Take It
8/27/03: Getting Rid of Splinters
7/14/03: Where's the Utopia?
6/30/03: Minority Reports
6/9/03: With a Capital D and that Rhymes With D and that Stands for Democrats
5/26/03: Where's the Harm?
5/12/03: The Ten Questions a Liberal Will Never Answer
5/5/03: Let The Fun Begin
4/21/03: It's My Money, Not TheIRS
4/14/03: Bush Won - Get Over It
4/7/03: Conservative Business 101
3/31/03: I'm a Celebrity - No War in Iraq!
3/24/03: Patriotism vs. Nationalism