Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Choice

While I hope the execution of Saddam Hussein will soothe the worries of the Iraqi Shias that somehow Saddam could return to power, my main hope is for the impact in other thug states.

Two comments are instructive. First, Prime Minister Howard of Australia:

"I believe there is something quite heroic about a country that is going through the pain and the suffering that Iraq is going through, yet still extends due process to somebody who was a tyrant and brutal suppressor and murderer of his people," Howard told reporters.

"That is the mark of a country that is trying against fearful odds to embrace democracy," he said.

And then Khadaffi of Libya:

The government of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi announced a three-day official mourning period and canceled all Eid celebrations. On Friday, Gadhafi made an indirect appeal for Saddam's life, telling Al-Jazeera television that Saddam's trial was illegal and that he should be retried by an international court.

Democracy will bring people to power who will hold dictators accountable for their crimes.

And dictators are uncomfortable with this precedent. Even though Khadaffi made a deal to "flip" his country and avoid our wrath, even he knows that he sits atop a people who could do the same to him despite his deal with America to let him live.

This is a new age. For all our problems, we do have democracy in Turkey; voting in the Palestinian territories; and fragile democracy in Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan. Dictatorship is not the the good deal it once was for the dictator and their cronies. This is progress.

So, with Saddam dead and Khadaffi alive, thugs like Ahmadinejad, Assad, and Kim Jung-Il can see the choice they have to make: oppose us and die, or flip and live.

And for those here who think letting thug leaders flip means they escape justice, remember Khadaffi's reaction. He flipped to avoid Saddam's fate. But he knows that ultimately, the Libyan people--like the Iraqi people--will hold their leader accountable for his rule. A deal with the United States is not the final word in dictators' fates.

Khadaffi is not sleeping easily. And neither should the other thug rulers who wage war against us.