December 15, 2003


Saddam's end a lesson to others who oppose American policy (SAM F. GHATTAS, 12/15/03, Associated Press)

Never mind which Arabs feel joy or disappointment - the real message in Saddam Hussein's capture should not be lost on Middle East leaders who might think to challenge American interests, say experts and analysts who also see in Saddam's dramatic end an opportunity to redraw the politics of the region.

Saddam was a leader who once terrified - and shocked - his fellow Iraqis and neighbors with his violent politics and opulent lifestyle. That he looked a broken man when pulled from his underground hiding place was noted both by ordinary Arab citizens and their leaders.

"The sight of Saddam's capture on television was terrifying to his colleagues, the Arab rulers," said Sateh Noureddine, managing editor of the Lebanese daily As-Safir. "It could make them reconsider their calculations, the way they deal with America, the way they confront it and the way they reject its demands." [...]

Lebanon's English-language newspaper, The Daily Star, noted that America would not hesitate to intervene directly to safeguard its interests in the region and said it is time for Arabs to deal with the changes and use them to their benefit.

"Like a force of nature, an emboldened America is now bearing down on a Middle East, whose habitual status is somnolence. If the countries of the region continue to let others decide the pace and direction of events, the storm will be a highly destructive one," wrote the Star in an editorial Monday.

By taking initiatives toward democracy, the editorial said, Arabs can turn the American effect into a "cleansing rain, washing away the stains left behind by decades of failed statecraft and illegitimate leadership ... It is our actions and intentions, not America's, that will decide the issue."

Who'll stop the rain?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 15, 2003 7:44 PM

"By taking initiatives toward democracy, the editorial said, Arabs can turn the American effect into a "cleansing rain, washing away the stains left behind by decades of failed statecraft and illegitimate leadership ..."

Oh, I can think of a few other countries this could apply to.

Posted by: Peter B at December 15, 2003 8:42 PM

We know that Chirac and Schroeder will at least sell umbrellas. And there are some domestics trying to peddle raincoats, too.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 15, 2003 9:55 PM

I predict they'll be sneakier, not that they'll decide to be democrats.

Events of the last two years have shown that the Al-Queda model allied to a national state doesn't work, the state gets knocked off. That does not mean that the diffuse Al-Queda operation has lost all its value to the Muslims.

The US cannot really stamp out that kind of antagonism. Only the Muslims can do that for themselves.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 15, 2003 10:27 PM

As Victor Davis Hanson is fond of saying "a hard rain's gonna fall"

Posted by: AWW at December 15, 2003 11:35 PM

Who'll stop the rain?

Peter Garret would have a fit if he knew you were quoting him like that. Not that that would be a bad thing.

Posted by: Jason Johnson at December 16, 2003 12:10 AM

Strike that last comment, I'm not sure how I got the lyrics of a CCR song mixed up in my head with Midnight Oil.

Posted by: Jason Johnson at December 16, 2003 12:15 AM

Because, it's all about the oil.

Posted by: oj at December 16, 2003 12:19 AM


How does an Al-Queda operation without the support of any nation state work?

Posted by: jd watson at December 16, 2003 3:01 AM

The question is what kind of support will we go to war to punish. I'm sure that the region is intently studying the difference between our treatment of Afghanistan and our treatment of Pakistan.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 16, 2003 7:39 AM

We've made clear that overt assistance to NGOs dedicated to making war on the US is no different from the nation state itself making war. So other states, like Syria or Iran, are facing the choice of going to a more conventional war, stopping such support, or to be more covert in their support. The first isn't likely, and the third carries the danger of turning hot if they get caught. Also in the mix is that the US has shown that it won't allow them to run and hide behind mommy (the UN, Europe, etc.) for cover when they get caught.

Countries like Pakistan and Saudi-occupied Arabia fall into the second category, for now, in that they are appear to be making the right moves. But I would expect that we will eventually discover they are really in the third category, and deal with them at that time.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at December 16, 2003 1:06 PM

Dr. Watson, like the narodniki, like the ETA.

Only will the biggest pool of tacit and active supporters, spread over the greatest part of the globe, with the most resources and the most deadly weaponry ever seen.

Conrad's "The Secret Agent" remains the template.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 16, 2003 2:53 PM

Don't forget the IRA, for whom Saudi Arabia is, um, us.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 16, 2003 3:48 PM
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