Saddam as eccentric folk hero

Ramzy Baroud, editor-in-chief of The Palestine Chronicle newspaper, took Saddam’s capture and subsequent medical examination hard. Writing in the Seattle Times, Baroud confesses that when he learned of Saddam’s capture “something inside me was crushed.” He continues:
“Seeing Saddam in that cluttered state, willingly opening his mouth to an American military doctor, being treated ‘like a cow,’ as the Vatican claimed, provoked an array of emotions that I could hardly contain. Even then, I had no illusions: It was not the ‘capture’ of Saddam that engulfed me with these emotions; it was what Saddam represented or, perhaps, failed to represent. It was the fear of a future undoubtedly bleak, unforgiving.
“Saddam, in his eccentric ways, symbolized the last drive for pan-Arab nationalism. In many ways, he was unrivaled. He was one of very few who dared to stand up to what many people in the world see as a harsh and domineering United States. To many people living in the Middle East, Saddam Hussein was simply the ‘lesser of the two evils.’
“Arab nationalism, even under the shabby state of the former Iraqi leader, remained important, for it represented the only collective political identity Arabs aspired to attain. Politically fragmented and easy prey to outside interests, many Arabs, especially in poorer countries, held tight to the fading dream of unity.”
Saddam Hussein as “the lesser of two evils.” President Bush’s optimism notwithstanding, the future really does seem “undoubtedly bleak” and “unforgiving” for a people this clueless.


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