Will It Matter?
With those words, a jubilant Paul Bremmer flashed a horizon to horizon smile. The man in charge of America's Iraqi operation looked as if he'd just won the MegaMillions lottery.
It was Sunday morning, Demcember 14, 2003.
Saddam Hussein had been captured. The diposed Iraqi dictator had been hiding, like a rat, in a small underground tunnel. The self-styled "Arab knight," often depicted on murals in Iraq riding a white horse in battle against "the Infidel," turned out to be a shaky coward, hiding behind a bushy beard.
Almost two years later, his trial has finally begun. He looks different. His cowardice replaced by defiance, barking at the judges. "Who are you???" We laugh, shake our heads, then go about our business.
When Saddam was arrested many of those who follow world events predicted it would take months for the full imapct of his demise to become fully apparent in Iraq and other Arab countries. His was the most brtual of the one-party regimes developed from the 1950s onward. His rule affected almost every Iraqi. I'm told by a friend and colleague who lives in the Middle East, "There is hardly an Iraqi family that did not lose at least one member to Saddham's death machine."
His trial, held in Baghdad, will last months, possbily more than a year. No matter the outcome, will it matter? Hopefully it will. Maybe, just maybe, he will provide answers to the 29 questions asked by chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix in his last report, (remember Blix?), about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Saddham should tell the world where those weapons are, and if they do not exist, why had he refused to answer Blix's questions, thus pretending they did exist.
While we wait for answers from the man often referred to as "The butcher of Baghdad," American troops are still in Iraq by the tens of thousands. The death toll for U.S. troops will soon top 2,000. Insurgents continue to strike when least expected.
All of this 22 months after the words "We got him!"
Will any of this matter?
We sure hope so.
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