You hear it all the time: “while I’m opposed to war, no one would argue that Iraq isn’t better off without Saddam.” In general, the same people who are disgusted with pre-emption, missing WMDs, and the outright lies of the Bush administration, still concede that Hussein was a madman; a murderous dictator who gassed his own people, maintained deplorable rape rooms, and mindlessly fired off shotguns in the middle of nationwide celebrations. He’s a bastard, they cry, and if there is a silver lining to the current quagmire, it is that the world has seen the last of a truly vicious henchman. Needless to say, that is what they are saying; I, however, sing a different tune. In sum, I favor the unequivocal return to power of one Saddam Hussein — with a full pardon, restoration of palatial luxury, and even a steady paycheck provided by the American taxpayer. Is this a satirical jab at the embarrassing fact that in the past, the U.S. government backed, funded, and armed Hussein in his war against Iran? Am I being cheeky? Let me be clear — this is the least ironic rant I’ve ever written. I want Saddam released from prison, returned to the throne, and so sheltered from further prosecution and harm that he’s harder to get to than our own president. Iraq needs him, we need him, and the entire world awaits his strong, masculine hand.
Obviously, there’s more to it than mere pragmatism. If the show trial in Iraq has revealed anything, it’s the hidden charm that Saddam never displayed in all the time he commanded the headlines. He’s obstinate, sassy, and full of a tough vanity, and yet, he couldn’t be more cuddly. Whether he’s complaining about the lack of clean underwear or blasting the mere idea that he should be charged with anything, Saddam is a master showman. In fact, few bits of news have produced more sustained giggling on my part than the revelation that Saddam roared about his elevator ride to the courtroom. His eye-rolling contempt for the process possesses a certain dignity; as if he knows the score and for once, has the fearlessness to point it out. I mean really — is he actually being tried for murdering a few hundred souls who plotted his assassination in the early 1980s? What the fuck else was he supposed to do? Funny, but when Saddam tried to have George H.W. Bush killed a decade back, we responded with missile attacks killing how many Iraqis? When challenged, why not hit back with full force? Can anyone really blame the guy?
There may be other angles to the overall prosecution, but the current government of Iraq seems overly preoccupied with the distant past. And consider the righteous indignation of our own punditry. Not one word of protest was uttered in this country regarding the murder of those “innocents,” or even the death of the Kurds, and I would argue that we wholeheartedly approved so long as he kept other radical Middle Eastern elements in check. And again, this was (and is) his primary function. Because of his secular stance and repressive measures, he was able to unite the country against him, and his willingness to accept the burden prevented civil war and the invasion of terrorist bands. Isn’t that the point, after all? When we’re being honest, it becomes clear that democracy — complete with free speech, a vigorous press, and unyielding debate — is totally impossible in that region. Hell, I have doubts about its efficacy in the West, given the rapid rise of anti-intellectual Christians who seek to abandon all pretense of modernity. The Middle East isn’t opposed to democracy’s reforms because of some genetic or inherent deficit, of course, but rather due to the permeating poison of God. Nations or cultures that elevate the Almighty above all else simply cannot function in a political system that requires reason, logic, and the messiness of agency. As such, they only respond to ancient traditions and well-ordered mandates. Jesus (or Allah, or whatever fairy tale you choose) acts much as quicksand — for a time you are merely running in place, only to eventually sink into a crushing oblivion.
And mass murder or no, I’d rather live in a secular bloodbath than a religious Eden. After all, the “peace” of a God-centered world is only superficially free. Overt displays of violence are often no longer needed, largely because the drones of dogma have internalized self-control to the point where spontaneity and true choice have been lost. They obey that “inner voice” that acts as a brutal whip against wrongdoing. The freedom of the secular, however, necessitates a tangible, ever-feeding opposition, because people are acting according to their desires. I’d prefer that governments and leaders stay out of the way of expression, of course, but only when one must fight against an external foe does one know one is truly alive. In that sense, “success” breeds complacency and boredom; man is at his best when under the gun. The best measure, then, of the Iraqi population was that it wanted Hussein out of power. There was great risk, of course, but they were able to channel the best of their minds and wills in the direction of securing freedom. This passion would disappear once the tyrant was removed, and it makes sense after that long struggle to seek the succor of religion. They’re less free in many ways, but the “war” is over. They know what to do and how to do it, largely because their faith mindlessly guides them.
It’s quite the dilemma to realize human beings are more free when fighting oppression than once they’ve overcome its shackles, but any view of contemporary America proves that fact in spades. When Americans have no foe (genuine enemy, not the shadow of “global terror”), they get fat, elevate retards to public posts, and find auto racing endearing. No one says anything of value, and “memorable” discourse becomes little more than bad puns and product slogans. Think of the height of segregation, however. The rhetoric was masterfully engaging, and our heroes were bold, articulate, and vigorous. What’s more, when we didn’t feel that we had all the answers, we asked questions that furthered the human race beyond its wildest imagination. Once we “win” (as was the case post-Cold War or with the rise of fundamentalism, with its “no shades of gray” moral precepts) we revert to timid, self-satisfied beasts who believe joy and contentment are more fulfilling that getting bloodied in the arena. And my how the hagiographies flow!
So let us release the Iraqi people from their disastrous course and return Saddam to power. Let him dash old foes, sow his oats, and roam the streets with tanks at the ready. He must be allowed to kill again in order for the Iraqis to at last taste the fruit of freedom. With the rape rooms filled to capacity once more, the Iraqi people will have purpose and a sense of destiny, as they can disregard the call of spirituality and learn how to speak with clarity and precision. Heroes will step forward, underground newspapers will charge up their presses, and martyrs will inspire further generations of young people with the notion that nothing is worth saying unless someone, somewhere wishes to keep you from saying it. You can have your purple fingers; I’d prefer to see them mangled and severed in the adventure of the ages. It’s time the old man be allowed to clean up, remove external threats, turn the lights back on, and get back to the true business of the region. We may continue to watch him with one eye open, but he’s learned his lesson. He’s largely bluff and bluster, and as such won’t ever threaten anyone beyond his borders. He has so many bodies to clear away in his own backyard, in fact, that it will be years before he even acknowledges the world community. But he’ll save Iraq, by god, and with a twinkle in his eye, he’ll stroll into the sunset of a job well done.