If ever there were a time for a "mother of all battles" speech, this is it. But there seems to be a noticeable lack of folks around to give it. Whether or not Saddam is dead or dying or hideously disfigured or lightly bruised or looking as relaxed and roguish as Jack Nicholson picking up a Lifetime Achievement Oscar, the rumours of his death have spread quickly around Iraq and the regime seems to be incapable of restoring the appearance of authority. Whether or not Washington succeeded in its aim of "decapitating" the regime, the Iraqis are doing an awfully good impression of behaving as if they're headless. The significant indicator is not the units that are surrendering, but the ones that are disbanding -- they've concluded they don't need the protection of the British and Americans to keep them safe from the regime's wrath, because the regime is no longer in a condition to enforce its wrath....
When Jean Chrétien told reporters in Mexico that you can't just go around removing leaders you don't like, one assumes he meant it at least in part as a matter of practical possibility -- the human cost of taking out the butchers is too great, the civilian casualties too high. Dictators from Kim Jong-Il to Robert Mugabe rely on that argument.
But, if it emerges that Washington effectively disabled the entire leadership on Thursday morning, that the first casualty of the war was a Mr. S. Hussein of Baghdad, well, that's an awfully cautionary tale for Kim and Co. America will have invented not the neutron bomb but the neuron bomb: They'll have shown they're capable of disconnecting the regime's nervous system while leaving everything else standing -- bridges, hospitals, men, women, children. If I were M. Chirac or one of those other fellows who think the real threat to the world is American hegemony, I'd be longing for a reassuring call from Saddam. Otherwise, that North Korean crisis is going to go very differently.
They're all dead. Or, even better, horribly maimed and in terrible agony. It kinda makes me feel bad to wish unimaginable pain and suffering on someone, but I can only read so many stories about raping girls, gouging childrens' eyes out, and pushing people into shredding machines before I really start to dislike someone.