So, I guess ol' Saddam Hussein isn't so bad after all.
We've all seen him in his underwear. Instead of babies he tends to favor Raisin Bran for breakfast. And he has some great advice on marriage.
Not too dumb, not too smart, eh, Saddam? That's a classic.
After reading about our soldiers' experience with guarding Saddam I was immediately reminded of that eerie picture we put out during the war of a smiling Saddam wearing an Alpine hat and a big grin. I guess the gassings had gone well that day.
All these images of Saddam as a person are important because they emphasize the fact that he is, after all, human. Yes, he's an extremely evil human, but he doesn't sleep in a coffin during the day and rise at night to feast on blood, nor does he have horns and a pitchfork.
He likes Cheetos. And he still thinks he's president of Iraq.
Also, more to my point for the day, he insists that everything he did was in the best interest of his people. I believe him. Well, more specifically, I believe he believes that.
People have a great capacity for self delusion, and very few people actually consider themselves evil no matter how many evil acts they perform. A notable exception would be certain serial-killer types who are filled with self-loathing and thus want to be caught.
But most people will find all kinds of excuses for their misdeeds. That includes us, my fellow Americans.
First, let me say that I don't understand what certain people mean when they say we should close the terrorist prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Most of the inmates in that camp need to be held somewhere, and I'm not sure where else that could be.
But anybody who thinks the worst we've done to them is to make them listen to Christina Aguilera music is certainly floating down that river we call de-Nile. Why do you think we aren't allowing U.N. inspectors down there?
Do understand, I'm not real sympathetic about the suffering of people like Mohammed al-Qahtani, a known al-Quaida operative. Also, in certain cases where our people are trying to obtain information quickly to prevent something bad from happening to innocent people including possibly myself or my family, well I give them carte blanche to do what must be done.
However, torture in general, along with being offensive and sick, is also known to be the least reliable method for extracting information. And when people learn about what we're doing it causes far more harm to the overall effort to suppress Islamic extremism than we might gain in what is bound to be outdated information on Osama bin-Laden's plans.
What concerns me even more about Guantanamo Bay is that we don't seem to be absolutely certain that all of the 540 or so prisoners there really deserve such incarceration. I think we need more open tribunals to determine the truth.
In the end, though, I think we need to keep the place open and in the business of containing those elements of the war on terror that we have managed to capture. But I also think that we as Americans should stop kidding ourselves about our own capacity for evil, as individuals or as government agents.
War is horrible because both sides do horrible things. It's a bad situation that, as a species, we need to learn to avoid. We won't learn anything if we try to sugar coat the situation and use our patriotism as an excuse to ignore the truth.
Ed Brock covers public safety and municipal governments for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .