justice for saddam

saddam is no longer president of iraq. that’s a good thing. he will die for his crimes. that’s also good. it’s a positive development for iraq, for its people, and for iraq’s continued evolution toward a more democratic and free society. what the iraqis also need to move forward is a strong political leader they can rally around, and they need to have confidence that the government will be fair to all the religious groups in iraq. we can send in the heavy machinery and our awesome military to police everything, but that won’t be enough to sustain iraq long-term.there are diplomatic and political obstacles to that stablization, and one of those is probably prime minister maliki himself. the iraqis need to have a strong political leader who is credible not only with the international community, but also with the majority of iraqis. i’m not sure maliki’s that guy. he still has a little time to prove himself. the important thing is whether the iraqis trust him to capably run the country.

a few roadblocks to the stablization of iraq are still to be cleared. training the iraqi police is an important part of the process, but it’s not the only goal we need to accomplish before leaving iraq. access to basic services (food, water, and electricity) is still a problem in iraq. that’s one thing that fuels discontent, and the insurgents know this as well as their opposition does. we need to find a way to reduce support for the insurgency by the average iraqi, or there will never be a resolution to this conflict.

i know the left in this country is tired of hearing that their “principled opposition” to the war in iraq is having a determental impact on events in iraq. it’s becoming harder and harder to declare that statement a absurd exaggeration by the republicans or neo-cons, or whoever the designated “iraq apologist” is this week. the military can take care of its own morale. they will be professional and do their jobs as well as they would have without criticism from the anti-war left. our concern should be that the iraqi people will lose faith that america will see this through, and in fact, that’s already beginning to happen. as a result of all this war waffling, we are seeing that iraqis are unsure whether they can trust us. that is, i believe, another reason why some iraqis would rather trust insurgents than the united states or their own government. there is recent history that would cause them to question our resolve in iraq, but the stakes are too high to pull out right now.

there are serious consequences we will have to face if we do not succeed in stablizing iraq, so i hope that we can find a better plan to do that than the one we have.

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