Washington looking for new Iraq strong man?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 03:49 PM

There are rumors that the U.S. has told the Iraqi PM that he has a very short time--two months--to get the nightmare at least started in the right direction and, at the same time, was allegedly searching for a new "strong man" to pull the militias into line and assert the power of central government over Iraq's catatonic insecurity.

If true, this means that after several years, who knows how many thousands of dead, permanently wounded, and psychologically traumatized human beings, we're looking for an Iraqi to play the role of Saddam.

Maybe Iraq will get lucky and the new Saddam will be a little less brutal than the old Saddam, perhaps even more willing to share power.  But I certainly wouldn't bet on that.

And even if a new Saddam was better than the old Saddam at the time we install him on top of the Iraqi nightmare, what do you think the odds are that the new Saddam will get nicer and fairer and more democratic over time?

And what do you think the odds are that we would supply such a new Saddam with weapons and military training in order for him to keep order.  Or the odds that these weapons and training would then be used for repression?  With the Iraqis once again burning into their memories pictures of U.S. diplomats and leaders smiling and strolling with the new repressor?

If this is indeed how Iraq ends up, it's a double tragedy.  The first being that so many died and suffered for so little, the second being that there were chances--both before and after the invasion--to get a better result.

I still remember the little stories about Iraqi explorations of ways to stave off the invasion in exchange for Saddam leaving power.

And I certainly still remember the brief post-invasion period when it looked very possible for us to get Iraq back up and running pretty quickly, using the existing government framework and existing Iraqi military units.

What was it that Sean Vannity used to mindlessly bark at guests trying to have a rational discussion of Iraq?  Oh, yes:  "Is the world better off without Saddam?"

Answer your own damn question you simplistic media thug.  Answer it now.