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Boston Herald December 31, 2006

Execution of justice: New year, new goals with Saddam gone

By Jules Crittenden, Boston Herald City Editor

So Saddam has taken his long drop at the end of a short rope. “He showed fear,” we are told.

Like many of his own victims, he was handed a red card of death. Most had no such formality. It was an unceremonious bullet to the head, an acid bath or some other prolonged and hideous torture. It was being bound and thrown off the roof. It was being ripped apart by dogs.

Saddam was given dignity not afforded to hundreds of thousands of dead now greeting him on the other side. And when he had been dispatched, witnesses and executioners on this side danced around his body.

From Tripoli to Syria to Teheran to Beirut to Pyongyang, how many of Saddam Hussein’s fellow travelers involuntarily rubbed their own necks as the world was treated to this spectacle of justice for once achieved and not cynically subverted?

Heads up, Khaddafy, Assad and Ahmadinejad. Heads up, the entire rotten, stunted leadership of the People’s Republic of China. Heads up, Kim Jong Il.

The new year is upon us, and we have serious business to attend to. No time to dawdle over a bit of foul refuse by the side of the road. Saddam is behind us. Each of the above-mentioned despots remains to be dealt with in turn, and each poses challenges that will make their own arrival at justice drawn-out and torturous affairs.

Most immediate among our concerns are Iraq and Iran, and there is good news on both fronts of what is in fact one intertwined war.

Iran has thumbed its nose at the U.N. Security Council’s efforts to be reasonable. News reports indicate President Bush is dispatching the aircraft carrier attack group John Stennis to the Persian Gulf early, to overlap for a period of several months with the USS Eisenhower on station there, as other U.S. and British naval forces are built up.

This will create a formidable force of combat aircraft and guided missile firepower off the coast of Iran. John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org, who has been studying the satellite imagery, holds that concentrated strikes on Iranian nuclear weapons sites and conventional air defenses can in short order blow that country’s WMD dreams back into the Stone Age.

In Iraq, the concern is stability and an end to sectarian violence. If Iran is to be attacked, Iraq becomes the flank on which we can expect a counterattack.

At the top of the to-do list is the Iranian-backed terrorist militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who has been too long ignored. The removal of al-Sadr and the destruction of his militia is the first step to restoring peace in Iraq and removing Iran’s vile influence there.

Last week, American soldiers sent a strong message to al-Sadr when they killed one of his deputies in Najaf. They sent a strong message to Iran when they seized two Iranian military officials in Baghdad. News reports now indicate that, rather than backing out of Iraq, Bush is preparing to engage aggressively, with 20,000 to 30,000 troops, some of whom have already received marching orders.

So, we exit this year with yesterday’s trash disposed of and all indications that our president is ready to tackle our ongoing problems with firm resolution in the new year.


Copyright 2006, Boston Herald