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March 6, 2015 / 15 Adar , 5775
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The Rise And Fall Of A Dictator


The wisdom of these goals continues to be hotly debated. Yet one thing is now certain: Saddam Hussein’s ability to perpetrate violence against his nation, his neighbors, and the world, is finished. He was executed on December 30. He stands almost alone among modern tyrants in that he received due justice. He is dead as a result of American intervention, as are the two thugs we once feared as his heirs: his sons, Uday and Qusay. This is a magnificent achievement, unthinkable only five years ago.

Contrary to popular perception, we did find some WMD in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, though we did not find the stockpiles we expected. Importantly, as former U.N. chief inspector David Kay reported, we did discover “intent and infrastructure” by Saddam to again “ramp up” WMD production once a tired, divided international community threw in the towel on the inspections process.

Thanks to a simpler process – a hanging – Saddam will never realize his nuclear ambitions. His prophecy of dying a violent death was realized, but, mercifully, not in the giant explosion we all long feared.

The Bush administration’s daunting long-term task in Iraq outlives him, far from completed, and dangerously unstable. But the danger posed by Saddam Hussein is finally over, and that’s a big, big deal – one worth celebrating.

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Herbert Romerstein died last week after a long illness. With Herb’s passing, we lose not only a good guy but a vast reservoir of knowledge that is not replaceable.

Saddam Hussein grew up barefoot in a mud hut in the town of Takrit, north of Baghdad on the Tigris River. He never met his father. His mother, Subha Tulfah, was deeply disturbed, suicidal and homicidal. She repeatedly tried to kill the child in her womb. According to one, probably apocryphal, account, she jumped in front of a bus and screamed: “I am giving birth to the devil!” Some witnesses recalled the pregnant woman banging a door against her extended belly.

The incident might have reminded them of the moment they sawed off Nick Berg’s head with a dull blade.

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