The importance of humiliation

Fouad Ajami carefully weighs the meaning of Saddam Hussein’s apprehension in “A Tigris chronicle.” Ajami is an extraordinarily clear-eyed and knowledgeable observer. His message is one of extremely qualified optimism:
“Iraq, we must admit, has tested our resolve. We have not found weapons of mass destruction, and we may never do so. We found a measure of gratitude, but not quite enough. What we found was a country envenomed by a dictatorship perhaps unique in its brutality in the post-World War II world. We can’t be sure that our labor in that land will be vindicated. There is sectarianism, and there are undemocratic habits, and a good measure of impatience. But the abject surrender of a tyrant who had mocked our will and our staying power, and whose very political survival stood as proof of our irresolution a dozen years earlier, can only strengthen our position in the Arab-Islamic world. In those unsettled lands, preachers and plotters tell about America all sorts of unflattering tales. The tales snake their way through Beirut and Mogadishu, and other place-names of our heartbreak and our abdication. It is different this time. The spectacle has played out under Arab and Muslim (to say nothing of French and German) eyes. We saw the matter of Saddam Hussein to its rightful end. We leave it to the storytellers to make their way through this American chronicle by the Tigris.”