Madison County Opinion...

DECEMBER 17, 2003


Column
By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
December 17, 2003

Frankly Speaking

Saddam Hussein: truly the greatest coward to ever live.
We now know the identity of the greatest coward in the world. His name is Saddam Hussein.
How do you define a coward? They are people who fear being responsible for themselves. They go to extreme lengths to avoid personal responsibility.
There are several ways to avoid responsibility. One is to throw your self onto the generosity of the welfare system. It is far easier to let government take care of you than to be responsible for yourself.
Another way to avoid personal responsibility is to join the ranks of the homeless. If you have no home or family, you have no requirement to exercise personal responsibility.
The final, most damaging way to avoid personal responsibility is to gain total control over your society. If you have total control, you can simply destroy anyone who attempts to hold you responsible for your actions. This is the choice of Saddam Hussein.
Hussein did not invent the brutal dictator role. Many others have used it as a way to avoid personal responsibility. Millions of people were killed in the Soviet Union by a series of cowards. Millions more have been butchered in Africa for the same reason. And of course, the previously greatest coward, the man who tried to wipe out an entire race of people, was Adolph Hitler.
The comparison of Hitler and Hussein is a good one. Both of them attempted to gain world domination. Both of them created massive criminal enterprises. They were each quick to utilize weapons of mass destruction. They equally used terror to intimidate those who opposed them. They both ended their careers hiding in a hole in the ground.
The difference came at the end. When Saddam Hussein was confronted by American troops at the entrance to his rat hole, he started begging. Although he was armed with a loaded pistol, he made no effort to resist, or to avoid capture by ending his life. Many Arabian leaders are expressing their displeasure about his lack of courage. His timid surrender is an insult to all Arabians, they say.
Even Hussein’s sons fought to the death rather than surrender. Why did Saddam Hussein fail to do the same? He is a true coward.
When Adolph Hitler realized that all was lost, he at least had the courage to pull the trigger and end his life. Hussein cowered in a hole in the ground like a timid rabbit. He preferred to live a coward than sacrifice his life for the cause.
Saddam Hussein is truly the greatest coward to ever live.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is frankgillispie@charter.net.

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Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
December 17, 2003

In the Mean Time

On justice, Saddam and the hunt for Osama
Every society has its method of dealing justice. In many Arab nations, it’s an eye for an eye, literally. For instance, a judge in Multan, Pakistan, ruled last week that a man convicted of blinding his 17-year-old fiancée with acid be doused in the eyes with acid before a crowd at a public sports stadium.
Most people would like to see Saddam Hussein face the same sort of eye-for-an-eye justice.
And this may happen. President Bush said that Hussein deserves “the ultimate penalty.” He also said this week that the Iraqi people — not the U.S., not an international court — should decide the fate of the captive despot.
This seems appropriate. Hussein wielded his power over the Iraqi people for more than two decades, resigning many to a horrible fate. It seems only fitting that a victimized people get the final say on what happens to their oppressor.
Likewise, the alternative of a trial at The Hague could turn disastrous. Consider the case of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who now stands before the UN International Criminal Tribunal for atrocities in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.
Milosevic has gone the way of Long Island subway shooter Colin Ferguson, or more recently Beltway sniper John Muhammad.
He is representing himself at trial.
So, like Ferguson, who cross-examined several of the people he gunned down in the subway, Milosevic gets to question those who lived through a personal hell of his making.
“I am sorry for what happened to you....if it happened to you,” Milosevic, the man on trial for genocide — among numerous other charges — tells a victim.
A lengthy article by Guy Lesser in the January issue of Harper’s Magazine describes the trial: the headphones, the formal robes and even white wigs. Lesser tells how Milosevic — unlike most defendants turned lawyer — is skilled in his own defense, how the proceedings are extremely dense and slow and how this monotony suits Milosevic just fine.
“From his (Milosevic’s) point of view, the only thing that will change when his trial is concluded is his status from that of an accused, presumed innocent and in detention, to that of a convict serving a prison term,” wrote Lesser. “Accordingly, he has every incentive to drag the trial on for as many years as possible.”
No one would want to see a trial in which Saddam got the same opportunity as Milosevic to parade himself before a crowd and deride his victims in a courtroom for months or years. Who wants to give Saddam the opportunity to question a Kurdish man about the gas attack that took his mother?
“But how do you know I ordered the gassing?” he might ask, adding “I had no knowledge. Let me see you prove that I did. Where are the papers, the tapes?”
The proceedings for Hussein will hopefully be quite different from Milosevic’s trial — direct, swift and led by the people who knew him best, the Iraqis.
But with that hopefully resolved soon, many questions will still remain about the war in Iraq and the broader fight against terrorism.
Like others who opposed the war, I am relieved that Saddam has been caught. Opposing the war in Iraq, for me, was not a matter of wanting our country to duck out of a necessary fight, but a truly genuine belief that we were turning toward the wrong fight. I don’t understand how it’s partisan politicking — as many would say — to assert that redirecting focus from Afghanistan to Iraq posed a significant risk of weakening what should have remained objective number one in combating global terrorism — following Osama and his terrorist organization into Pakistan and bringing them to justice.
Of course, we are still pursuing bin Laden, but even some of those still going after bin Laden have acknowledged that the war in Iraq took some of their best men away from the al Qaeda hunt. Likewise, the money directed toward Afghanistan has been dwarfed by that tagged to Iraq, even though the argument could be made that restoration of Afghanistan, the former home base of al Qaeda, is just as much a security issue in the war on terrorism as securing Iraq.
This desire to focus predominately on Osama and his cohorts is rooted in the fact that it was al Qaeda who attacked us on 9/11 and most certainly plans to attack us again. Al Qaeda is a widespread, murderous, criminal enterprise impassioned with a perverted notion of religious sanctity. They are bent on apocalypse and use suicidal tactics in hopes of bringing it. Saddam’s power grab served no war-hungry Allah of al Qaeda ideology; no, he served an all-together different god, himself. Saddam was by all means dangerous, but on a wholly different scale. Can we say that he was planning wide scale attacks and possible global war, even if it meant his own demise? It looks unlikely, considering his desperate clinging to life in a hole this weekend. However, we know the answer when we ask that question of Osama and al Qaeda. The Islamic fanatics would say such destruction is for a greater glory than their own.
The capture of Saddam gives me hope that objectives in Iraq can be accomplished, with the result being more attention and more military might toward al Qaeda.
We can blame Clinton for not getting Osama when he had a chance. We can blame Bush for focusing on Saddam instead of Osama. We can blame left, blame right, blame me, blame you. Ultimately, it shouldn’t be a matter of who gets the blame or the praise.
So long as there is a day in the not-so-distant future when we contemplate the appropriate justice for another — much more dangerous — bearded criminal still hiding underground in a faraway land.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.


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