The New Republic Staff

Into The Past
January 01, 2007

Hundreds of demonstrators in France ring in the New Year by holding a light-hearted protest against it. Maybe the French think this is a joke. But maybe they don't. I understand why they do not want the future, and that is because the future will see the decline of France deepen. Its domestic politics is meaningless by any standard of theory and even more meaningless by any measure of practical advance. Its foreign politics is a mixture of the empty abstraction called Europe and the opposing nostalgia for empire. In any case, the French have rejected the present.

The Sunnis Respond
January 01, 2007

These are the incorrigibles, the irreconcilables, the bitter-enders. BBC tells us that among their slogans were "Saddam is the pride of the nation" and "We sacrifice our blood and soul for you Saddam." It certainly isn't poetry or pretty. In fact, these are ugly thoughts. And, if Saddam is, in fact, the pride of the nation, what a miserable nation it is. Well, the Sunnis of Iraq were content with the tyrant's murderous rule. And, now, they must face Shi'a revenge. Which makes Shi'a Iraq also murderous and grotesque. Here, in a dispatch, is a story about the revenge of the Sunnis.

Deluded To The Last
January 01, 2007

Allahu Akbar. These were Saddam Hussein's words as he neared death. And in the years since he was vanquished in the Gulf War. Then, when he was toppled like his bronze busts all over Iraq, he seized Sunni symbolism and rhetoric and made them his own. Fouad Ajami put it in a nutshell: Saddam "fell back on religious symbolism whenever calamity struck." This nutshell is included in The Sunday Times in an article I wish had appeared in TNR. Well, it didn't. Ajami's essay ties the confusing strands of the tyrant's last days (not altogether unlike the suicidal Last Days of Hitler by Hugh R.

Saddam And Gerald Have A Talk
December 31, 2006

by Richard Stern Saddam and Gerry The buzzard never says it is to blame. The panther wouldn't know what scruples mean. When the piranha strikes it feels no shame. If snakes had hands, they'd feel their hands were clean... On this third planet of the sun Among the signs of bestiality A clear conscience is Number One.     Wislawa Szymborska, "In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself" In the Anteroom of the Eternal sit two former heads of state.

The Day After
December 31, 2006

Who mourned? And who did not? And who celebrated? Here's a short summation of the weeping and the cheering in the Arab world: It's in Haaretz on the last day of the year. I dimly recall from my childhood people weeping for Stalin's natural death. No, what I recall was not in Moscow. It was in New York. Jake wore a black arm-band to school that day. Did Germans cry when Hitler committed suicide with Eva in his Berlin bunker? How about when Idi Amin died in exile in Saudi Arabia? Mengistu is still alive in Zimbabwe. Saved by (who else?) Mugabe.

Saddam's Final Words
December 31, 2006

In my post, "The Mourning of a Tyrant," I observed that a legend had already developed that Saddam Hussein's last words were "Palestine will be Arab." He probably didn't care a fig for the Palestinians, which is pathetic since there are so many figs in the region. In any case, the Palestinians will now have to disabuse themselves of the notion that he thought of them at the last. Another example of the self-inflicted pathos of the cause. Sorry, guys. Now, we have an authoritative report from Marc Santora in Sunday's Times about what Saddam really said.

A Brief Reminder
December 31, 2006

It's a ghoulish thought. But a very gentle Israeli friend of mine--he writes from time to time for TNR--confessed that he had done it. Watching the execution of Saddam Hussein, which ran on Arab television hour after hour after hour, he decided he would like to watch some footage of torture done by Saddam and company. My friend advised me not to watch. Still, he had. Apparently, there are lots of on-line sites that will show you what it's like.

The Mourning Of A Tyrant
December 30, 2006

Eve Fairbanks' tough-minded Plank post expects too much of the race: "While Saddam won't be laid to rest with the mixed feelings that accompanied Pinochet's death..." Alas, there will be more mixed feelings than Eve anticipates. More important, there will also be--there already is--enormous sorrow and wailing for the probably the cruelest tyrant in the postwar world, barring (but only possibly) Pol Pot. Much of the Arab world actually took Saddam to its heart, in Jordan, for example, where the late and noble King Hussein somehow felt he had to be in the dictator's court.

December 30, 2006

Unnervingly, when I heard that Saddam Hussein had indeed been executed around 10pm EST tonight at the gallows, and I popped open a laptop and saw the weirdly pathetic, face-etched-with-wrinkles portrait of him the Washington Post posted on their homepage (note: These photos rotate, but it was like this one), I felt a pang of pity for the guy.

Why Not An Auto Da Fe?
December 29, 2006

It worked for a thousand years, even more. So now the Vatican has been touched by the soul of Saddam Hussein. He should not be executed, said Cardinal Renato Martino, the prelate in the entourage of Pope Benedict who is responsible for the Council on Justice and Peace, that is, matters of justice and peace apparently everywhere. Martino had long been a critic of the Iraq war. But he also established his certified anti-American credentials when he absorbed the spirit of the United Nations as the Vatican's emissary during a 16 year stint.