06/18/04 — What if ... Saddam presents a real dilemma

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What if ... Saddam presents a real dilemma

The interim government that will take over Iraq wants custody of Saddam Hussein. On the surface that sounds good. His greatest crimes were against his own people. He presided over the mass murders of hundreds of thousands of them.

He also waged war against his neighbors, taking over Kuwait and menacing other Persian Gulf countries.

While he apparently didn’t produce or have on hand weapons of mass destruction — other than some artillery shells loaded with deadly gas — he certainly was engaged in acquiring them.

The U.S.-led coalition forces defeated Saddam’s conventional military forces in short order.

But the United States has lost more personnel since the end of “major” fighting than it did during the conventional war. The losses have been to daily terrorist attacks, ambushes and roadside booby traps. They not only continue but appear to be on the increase.

Following many of the attacks, Iraqi civilians are shown dancing and rejoicing over the debris — and at the scenes of murdered and mutilated American civilians.

We have been dealing here with mindsets and hostile attitudes incomprehensible to civilized Americans.

The coalition apparently has succeeded in winning over many of the people in some parts of Iraq. But obviously there are thousands upon thousands bent on unrelenting violence not only against the United States but against their fellow countrymen with whom they have disagreements.

Amid the continuing turmoil, do we release Saddam into the custody of a temporary government which is shaky at best?

What if — that government suddenly is overthrown by insurrectionists loyal to Saddam?

What if — Saddam “escapes?”

What if — he is “tried” and acquitted?

There were many successes in this war against Saddam Hussein.

And a few failures. Perhaps the biggest mistake was taking Saddam alive.

Published in Editorials on June 18, 2004 1:10 PM