A Pair of Aces

Saddam's sons and 14-year-old grandson are killed in yet another lopsided display of American military firepower (300 heavily armed troops supported by airpower against 3 adults and a teenager). The military command calls this carnage yet another display of its high professionalism; others might call it by its real name — an execution.

The military was merely the exterminator. They were not even aware that the Hussein brothers were residing right under their noses, until an Iraqi walked into the 101st Airborne office and told them exactly where these two men could be found. Thirty million for a pair of aces (ironically known as a pair of u2018bullets' in poker) — now that Iraqi knew how to play cards!

Let's get the rules of this unique card game straight. An American President launches a military invasion and occupation of another country without being threatened with an attack and without a declaration of war. He establishes 52 of its leaders as targets (the cards). He gives the military a green light to execute anyone in the deck. He offers a price (the pot) for each card captured or killed. Then he holds a press conference to gleefully announce each capture or execution, but the winner of the u2018pot' is not disclosed. Hmmmm.

The President should pray that this game does not catch on. How long will it be before a nation such as Iraq or its leaders establish their own deck of cards with commensurate rewards? At last check, I did not hear any accusation that Udai or Qusai were a threat to the national security of the United States. Bush did not even mention them in his daily war promotions. Yet, through genetics, they were labeled for execution. What if Iraqis who have been legitimately threatened and murdered by U.S. policy decide that our politicians and their families must go? What if large cash rewards are placed upon their heads? How could the Administration be heard to complain when they were the ones who invented this macabre game?

According to the American military command, most of the deck has already been captured, including many of the most treasured cards. Ironically, and to Washington's private horror, the attacks on American soldiers have not abated. In fact, they have grown in intensity and frequency with the acquisition of each new card. It appears as though the Iraqi resistance will not be bluffed out of the card game, and is willing to play very high stakes.

Do the Iraqis yearn for a return to the days of draconian rule under the House of Hussein? Hardly. In fact, so despised were the now departed brothers that it is almost inconceivable that anyone could evoke anger over their deaths. Apparently, the only thing worse to Iraqis than living Hussein brothers is the identity of their executioners. Iraqis undoubtedly see the heavy-handed display of American firepower as a painful reminder that they are not in control of their own destiny. They resent the American military presence and its over bearing approach to “democracy.” For Iraqis, the violent destruction of the Mosul neighborhood housing Udai and Qusai, is a metaphor for the daily destruction being wrought upon their country by the U.S. Military.

True, both Iraqis and Americans wanted the Husseins gone. The Administration saw the Hussein family and the Baath Party as an obstacle to their regional ambitions. The Administration could care less about the fate of the average Iraqi. Iraqis saw the Husseins as their latest persecutors and abusers. Despite the rose-colored prospectus of Bremer & Company, there is no assurance that someone equally brutal will not ultimately assume the power seat.

Will the deaths of Udai and Qusai raise the stakes high enough for the Iraqi resistance to fold? Doubtful. The week following the executions has seen more American soldiers killed than in any previous week of the occupation. More likely, the Iraqis will u2018call' this latest assault and raise the ante for America. Even those who celebrate the demise of these brutal brothers, do not wish to trade subjugation by the Husseins for subjugation by a foreign army.

In poker, a pair of aces is just not that strong of a hand.

July 30, 2003