Thursday, July 24, 2003

US raid for Saddam's sons

Well, the Americans have something to cheer however briefly. The corpse photos are out. I see the point, after all there are plenty of people here who don't really believe in scientific proofs - but it's a tad barbaric. Why not stick their heads on a pole and parade them through the streets of Baghdad..that's not a suggestion, by the way. Although Ann Coulter or someone like that (her of "we should conquer their countries, introduce them to democracy and convert them to Christianity" fame) probably would. The US are clearly hoping that out of the two main elements of Ba'athism as practiced in Iraq (modern bureaucratic dictatorship, and feudalism), feudalism will win out. Get the king and the followers will melt away. There is a certain logic in that - tribal and dynastic rule was very important, and old traditions have re-asserted themselves immensely (Patrick Cockburn's article in today's Independent makes the point that Ramadi, a centre of resistance, has been famous for highwaymen and banditry for at least a hundred years) - but the surge of killings following Monday's raid argues against it. There are for one thing a hell of a lot of people who have loyalties not to the "king" but to the Ba'ath, the army or one of the various security outfits. Was creating a couple of martyrs sensible? After all, the idea of a hiding or sleeping hero is an ancient motif of folktales throughout the world, that has always been a potent rallying force for rebels. And you only have to recall the Shi'a belief in the 12th or Hidden Imam who will return one day to realise the potency of it in Iraq.

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