by Rod D. Martin
November 5, 2006

Precious few of the butchers of the 20th century ever faced justice, but today, a freely-constituted court of the liberated people of Iraq and their elected representatives rendered judgment against one of the more notorious among them, Saddam Hussein.

In the words of the AP report, “The trial brought Saddam and his co-defendants before their accusers in what was one of the most highly publicized and heavily reported trials of its kind since the Nuremberg tribunals for members of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime and its slaughter of 6 million Jews in the World War II Holocaust.”

“The verdict placed on the heads of the former regime does not represent a verdict for any one person. It is a verdict on a whole dark era that has was unmatched in Iraq’s history,” said Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s Shiite prime minister.

America has begun a great work in Iraq, not only by toppling a brutal dictator, but by freeing a great people. Its government wants, requests, and needs us to stay for a while, something we must be prepared to do. It took ten years after World War II to fully hand-over in Germany and Japan (and U.S. troops are in both countries to this day); the insurgency in the Philippines lasted four years after the Spanish-American War; and the central contention of al Qaeda, the Saddamites and our other enemies throughout the world is that America is a paper tiger, that a bloody nose will chase it away, and allying with us is — sooner or later — a fool’s game. They say we cannot be counted on, we will not keep our word; and the men and women of the party of Kerry and Pelosi now poised to seize control would daily prove them right.

But our integrity is essential, not just for our own honor but for our safety, and for the safety of the entire world. Just ask the millions of Kuwaitis, Kurds and Iranians who suffered at Saddam Hussein’s hand, or the al Qaeda terrorists sitting at Guantanamo who will gladly tell you that they were personally emboldened to do the things they’ve done by America’s retreat after the barracks bombing in Beirut, or its tucking-tail after the Somali incident recorded in Black Hawk Down, or its seeming indifference after the embassy bombings in 1998 and the attack on the USS Cole, or even our hand-wringing non-response to the Iranian hostage crisis lo a generation past. Our left’s attention span may well be measured in weeks or days (hence the phrase “MoveOn”), but our enemies remember. And our failure to remember and to stand by our word is the surest way to ensure that no one can afford to be our friend.

We must show our integrity. We must finish our work.

But on this Lord’s Day, we can at least rejoice that we have leaders who, however imperfectly, have sought to do just these things. And we can be glad, that unlike Hitler, unlike Stalin, unlike Mao or Pol Pot or Idi Amin or a hundred others, the tyrant Saddam Hussein has faced a jury of his peers and the justice it alone may render. He will hang, in shame and without glory. It will not bring back the men, women and children he killed or the losses the people under his yoke suffered, it will not undo the rapes, the torture, the despoilment, the race-hatred, the wars.

But it will at least bring that measure of justice available in this life. And it will demonstrate the utter failure of his philosophy, as a free court and a free people end all his pretensions once and for all.

Let us not allow their hopes and dreams of freedom to be extinguished, whether by foreign al Qaeda terrorists and Iranian infiltrators or by the anti-American bias of the New York Times. Freedom is not free. It hasn’t been for them. Why should we think it is for us?