Anniversary Post: Saddam Hussein Capture

Saddam Hussein CapturedOn this day in 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured by American forces in a hole on a farm near Tikrit. I’ve always felt a bit sad for the man. Sure, he was a horrible despot. But he really did play by the despot rules. He had managed his power with a great deal of thuggish intelligence. And then he gets invaded for what?! I’m still not clear on it.

And the Persian Gulf War: what was up with that? Here’s the thing: the United States had supported him while he did all kinds of terrible things. And then, suddenly, it decided that it wasn’t going to support him. It amazes me that people like King Abdullah trust us. We really aren’t good allies. Personally, I would prefer if we actually did stand for democracy and all the other nice things we claim to. But we don’t. Is it asking so much to have a bit of consistency?

Of course, there is consistency. It is just that it isn’t of action, but of motivation. We do whatever is in our best interest at any time. We are not loyal to anyone. In other words, as countries go, we are a psychopath. Saddam Hussein never seemed to realize this. Before the invasion, he thought we were just bluffing. He was right that it made no sense in the grand scheme of things. (That’s another thing about us: we are sometimes led by complete idiots.) What can I say, it’s hard out there for a pimp; but it’s much worse for a despot.

17 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: Saddam Hussein Capture

    • I was appalled by how police killed the guy behind the Paris attacks. Not that he was a saint, and not that he possibly didn’t deserve execution (if one believes in capital punishment, I don’t, but there are deeply moral arguments in favor of killing murderers.)

      Why kill the Paris guy? Doesn’t it make more sense to interrogate him? The same deal with how we killed bin Laden. And Saddam, I don’t understand why we killed him at all. Didn’t we already get our macho on by portraying Saddam as Satan’s lover in the “South Park” movie? Do we really need to kill Saddam for any reason at all?

      I can’t comprehend these things.

      • To be fair, “we” didn’t kill him; we turned him over to our putative allies, who had a lot more to prove than we did at that point. (I’m not absolving us of responsibility for his execution, just saying that it wasn’t about our own machismo. More about our delusions regarding what would make us popular with our new “friends”.)

        • You are, of course, completely right. One of the difficulties of running an empire is keeping straight who our “friends” are from day-to-day.

          Certainly Saddma’s sin was losing track of who our “friends” were.

          I would not be surprised at all if one department planning bomb strikes considered certain people to be “friends” and another department planning bomb strikes had no idea what Department A was doing.

          This sounds insanely cynical. I don’t think it’s outlandish.

            • I’m overstating the case as it frustrates me — that’s how I roll. I type stupid shit.

              You’re right, naturally, that any complex system involves confusion and possibilities for misuse. I don’t think this is a necessary flaw of “government” — rather, a flaw inherent to systems without much democratic feedback. “Government” does a quite good job delivering social services in many other countries.

              The military here strikes me as an unaccountable force. Democrats want to rein it in and the Pentagon says “no, that’s not rational.” Republicans want to bomb the entire world and the Pentagon says “no, that’s not rational.”

              Very Serious People at the Pentagon make policy, they’re wrong time after time, and our leaders keep paying attention to what they say. While billions upon billions keep being spent to fund goofball missile-defense systems that don’t work, and launching wars which cause myriads of future problems. Jimmy Carter, our best and noblest ex-President, authorized gazillions funding jihadists in Afghanistan. Because the Pentagon said this was a really great idea.

              “Government” isn’t the problem, as problematic as you correctly observe government can be. Unaccountable government is. And our military, our “security services,” are off the charts. They do whatever Very Serious People with degrees from West Point think our military should do. At this juncture, they are basically unstoppable.

              • I am not so sure it is always the Pentagon who says we should go use all these shiny new toys we never asked for.

                It was during the Vietnam war though and for plenty of others but sometimes even the most trigger happy of warmongers at the Pentagon go “maybe we should wait Bush” and he orders it anyway. The Pentagon answers to civilian authorities and we have had some seriously awful ones over the years.

                That is me being fair though-I don’t like to assign blame when it is not warranted and I know that reality is all about nuance (like all Democrats. :P) However I don’t think they are unstoppable.

                Apparently that recent Paris Accord was made Republican Proof:

                That hybrid legal structure was explicitly designed in response to the political reality in the United States. A deal that would have assigned legal requirements for countries to cut emissions at specific levels would need to go before the United States Senate for ratification. That language would have been dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate, where many members question the established science of human-caused climate change, and still more wish to thwart Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda.

                When there is a will to find a way, you find a way. It is annoying it is stupid it is the missing stair but it is doable.

                • I don’t mean to say the Pentagon secretly controls everything! Rather, that Very Serious People, there and elsewhere, determine the breadth of policy choices our elected representatives can choose from.

                  I’ve heard intelligent people saying “my God, we can’t elect Trump, he’ll start World War III.” There are two things wrong with this. 1). Seriously, that’s your biggest problem with him? Really? 2). He can’t start World War III. If Trump ordered Russia nuked because he lost some pissing contest with Putin, Russia would not be nuked. The military wouldn’t do it. Just like if President Nader ordered all our bases worldwide to be shut down, they would not be shut down.

                  The military has its own inertia. It veers towards more wars with defenseless countries, and presidents can slow this down or speed it up, but nobody can change it much. Everybody’s known that the missile defense program was a boondoggle 30 years ago and running, now. It can’t be stopped. Same deal with our “intelligence” agencies. Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha together couldn’t cut funding for these things.

                  • The missile defense program is because of Congress and Presidents, not the military though.

                    Because of the way our government is set up-no, if Trump was all “I WANT TO BOMB MOSCOW” it would not happen because there is way more effort to bomb something then people realise-which is why those ridiculous pipe dreams of the Republicans on how we could have easily gotten a team into Benghazi (Drink!) to save the ambassador are just that-pipe dreams. But if someone does something at the wrong time and the change reaction starts, ten years from now the survivors like you and Frank will be wondering what happened.

                    However it doesn’t have to happen that way. And yes, you can slowly turn the ship around, it just takes a while.

    • Thanks for that info. I’m trying to get some time to redo the entire backside of this site so that it works well on mobile devices. But at least it is reasonably useful.

      • The new mobile version looks great, it’s really gorgeous. I’ll have to dink around with it awhile to see how it works. I generally want to read the main posts and engage with commenters. On the regular (should one say, “obsolete”?) version, the main posts are clearly presented. If I turn my phone sideways, it gives me a weird version of the usual sidebar. The helpful list of “Recent Comments” is not there. I’d find it cool to see if comment threads had new entries, I don’t know if that’s possible with WP.

        It does look terrific, though, and I’m constantly stunned how many people putting shit on the Web pay zero attention to appearance. It may be a technical thing. It took me weeks how to learn how the SB photo editor & video embedders worked, the WP interface which most bloggers use is way beyond my keen. HTML is a mystery tongue invented by dark gnomes in deep mountains who don’t want strangers finding their cache of gold.

        • The problem is that we tend to just think about the website the way we see it. In the old days, when I was an actual developer, I had every version or every browser. But I’ve gotten out of that habit. I had just assumed that WordPress would deal with it. I was unhappy to find that it didn’t. I do like the way it displays now. It’s the same way that BlogSpot displays. When I’m on my phone, that’s all I want: to see the recent post list and to be able to read. But I do need to do more. There’s just too much work. But I’m glad that the site is mostly working for mobile users.

  1. As to why we invaded Iraq (the first time)… it seems pretty clear that the reason wasn’t our stated pretext, Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait (the casus belli was Kuwait’s slant drilling). Bush Sr.’s ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, had just told Hussein that basically we would stay out of it — let’s go to the transcript, David!

    Personally, I’m inclined to believe those who say that Saddam got on our bad side by instituting some economic liberalisation. That sounds right, but I don’t claim to know.

    • I remember that. I’ve thought a lot about it. Of course, I wonder why he didn’t figure it ought. He appears to have been convinced that the US would not invade over nothing the second time. But why not? It’s what we do.

      I’ve never heard that about liberalizing the economy. I’ll have to look into it. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t just that he had lost his usefulness to us.

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