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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of December 17 - 23, 2003

Opinion Columns

Ripples from
Saddam’s capture

Commentary by Pat Murphy

  • Frontrunning Democrat Howard Dean is suddenly in search of an "exit strategy"—an exit from being labeled as a man who would’ve tolerated Saddam Hussein.

  • President Bush should remember the history of how voters can be fickle about wartime victors. Britain’s inspiring Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who valiantly and colorfully led Britons through World War II, was ousted along with his Conservative Party in 1945 only months after victory in Europe when voters turned to agonizing economic problems. And the first President Bush was defeated for re-election just a year after the brilliant success in the first Gulf War when pocketbook issues consumed voters.

  • What mistake did Saddam Hussein and President Richard Nixon have in common? Not burning the tapes. Nixon’s office tapes revealed his complicity in the Watergate burglary. And Saddam Hussein’s archives of grisly videotapes documenting the slaughter of tens of thousands of his countrymen will be the smoking guns in his trial.

  • Saddam had a way to go before being modern history’s ghastliest mass murderer. Germany’s Adolph Hitler still holds the record, with more than 20 million deaths. Russia’s Josef Stalin comes in second. With an estimated 2 million deaths on his hands. Saddam is just ahead of Cambodian despot Pol Pot.

  • Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker and created a myth that lives on worldwide with neo-Nazi skin heads and Aryan Nation conscripts. But Saddam’s pitiable, cowering image as an unwashed, unshaven man on the run, hiding in a hole, unwilling to resist captors or kill himself, provides little inspiration for devoted followers whom Saddam urged to fight to their deaths.

  • At his trial, Saddam will dwell on extensive 1980s U.S. aid as well as U.S. encouragement to wage war on Iran. He’ll also rant about Israel’s heavy handed treatment of Palestinians. However, by the time prosecutors trot out thousands of feet of videotape of his atrocities against women and children and produce testimony of disfigured survivors of his brutality, Saddam will be a rueful reminder to other despots that they’re not immune to capture and punishment.

  • As Iraq re-emerges with vestiges of a democracy (free press, free religion, free speech, a court system, elections, equal rights) the effect on other Arab states will be inevitable. To avoid popular uprisings fueled by the example of Iraq, wise authoritarian states will jumpstart reforms to avoid homegrown revolutions.

  • President Bush dropped import tariffs on foreign steel when he realized other countries would counterattack with tariffs on U.S. exports (such as Florida oranges from brother Jeb’s politically vital home state). Now he must also re-think excluding non-coalition countries from business deals in Iraq. Consider this: Onetime world leader Boeing is heading for second place in the number of aircraft delivered worldwide. France’s Airbus is headed for first place. Can Bush afford to poke his finger in trading partners’ eyes as U.S. industry suffers worse export setbacks?


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.