As is typical with these endeavors, the war began with feelings of near-euphoria: we are moving with alarming speed into Iraq, the missile attack the first night may have “decapitated” the Iraqi leadership, we are meeting little resistance, we’ll be met with open arms and chocolates on our pillows, maybe there won’t be any American casualties AT ALL!
But then by the weekend, the grim hand of reality had felled those idyllic notions. On Sunday I wrote this:
- Yesterday was a day to celebrate a smooth beginning, today the statistics of war inevitably turn our emotions around as one of our own goes berzerk and commits fratricide, pictures of American dead and captured are paraded on the decadently irresponsible Iraqi state television and al Jazeera, and our casualties accumulate.
But the mood has been swinging up again the last couple of days: success in the heaviest battle so far, indications of a popular uprising in Basra, continued progress toward Baghdad, and this column from Mark Steyn makes me almost chipper again:
- According to the Iraqi News Agency, yesterday President Saddam Hussein held a meeting with his son Qusay and Defence Minister Sultan Hashid Ahmad.
No word on where the meeting took place. The Intensive Care Unit? The Virgin Allocation Customer Complaints Centre in Paradise? (“Look, I’m sorry you have to make do with the older, heavy-set ones, but frankly our inventory never recovered from the big Osama group-booking 15 months ago.”)
So is he dead? No, not Saddam. We’ll come to him later. I’m thinking of Tariq Aziz. Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister is a Christian and, even though he’s a Scud-lobbing Kurd-gassing Christian, that’s what passes for pluralism in the Middle East, and Baghdad is savvy enough to use him as their chief Western media spokesperson. So why isn’t Tariq on CNN and the BBC right now? Why isn’t he claiming that the imperialist aggressors have slaughtered thousands of innocent women and children? [National Post]
Tariq Aziz blown up? I sense a smile coming on.
- We don’t know for sure who was inside and who got out. But an awful lot of Baghdad’s A-list crazies seem to have cut back on their personal appearances since, oh, Thursday a.m. It could be that the marked lack of command-and-control coming from the Iraqi capital is due to technical problems. But, on the other hand, look at the depraved video al-Jazeera was airing all weekend of Iraqi captors flaunting their American prisoners — some alive, some dead and bearing marks of execution rather than war wounds. Saddam’s hardcore thugs were able to round up their POWs, get out the camcorder, murder them, defile their corpses and get the footage from a relatively remote part of the country to the studio while the blood was still warm on the dungeon floor. As with the Daniel Pearl execution tape vis-à-vis Osama, it invites the question: If they can do this, where’s the boss? The speed of this revolting production suggests that, if the Iraqi leadership aren’t making video appearances, it’s not because of technical difficulties, it’s because they’re not in a condition to be filmed.
And, while we’re on the subject, what about that new Osama video he was supposed to release for the start of the Iraq war? It couldn’t be that both he and Saddam are in the hospitality suite waiting to go live on “Good Morning, Hell,” could it?
Sounds like an episode of South Park – how jolly.
- But, if it emerges that Washington effectively disabled the entire leadership on Thursday morning, that the first casualty of the war was a Mr. S. Hussein of Baghdad, well, that’s an awfully cautionary tale for Kim and Co. America will have invented not the neutron bomb but the neuron bomb: They’ll have shown they’re capable of disconnecting the regime’s nervous system while leaving everything else standing — bridges, hospitals, men, women, children. If I were M. Chirac or one of those other fellows who think the real threat to the world is American hegemony, I’d be longing for a reassuring call from Saddam. Otherwise, that North Korean crisis is going to go very differently.
And with that thought I am grinning from ear to ear.