Monday, December 15, 2003

Saddam Hussein, Wizard of Iraqi Oz

The symbolism of the capture of former Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein is powerful. As a result, his image is splashed across every major world newspaper and starts every telecast. Political leaders exult in his downfall, and Iraqis dance again in their streets.

The reality is that, without shot or struggle, a young US soldier and his commander found a disheveled, confused old man in a dusty rat hole. He looked just like the long-time homeless in any major city. He was living in a small mud-brick hut without indoor plumbing, subsisting on candy bars, rice, hot dogs and 7-Up. He had $750,000 that was useless to him. He was harmless, it turned out, unable or unwilling to even use his small pistol.

One veteran journalist said that Iraqis are in shock over Saddam's appearance. They are trying to reconcile the image of this scruffy, mild man with the feared, arrogant, omniscient dictator who ran and terrorized their country and the world for 25 years.

Saddam reminds me of the Wizard of Oz...a feared ruler who worked behind the scenes, intimidating all with bluffs and bluster, smoke and mirrors and tricks, until the curtain was pulled back to reveal just an ordinary little man with a penchant for power and palaces.

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