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The Lion And The Beast
Last December 30, exactly three years ago, Saddam Hussein, the deposed president of Iraq, was hanged. Hussein is fading fast into history's twilight. This is a look over the shoulder at a complicated man; a man whose fate called for him to be demonized in the bias prose of prewar and postwar propaganda.
Born in 1937, Saddam joined the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party while still in high school. From that time on he became a staunch party member in its fight against the dictatorship of Abdul Qassim. Eventually, Saddam would rise to leadership in his party and lead a successful revolution in 1968 against Qassim.
The following year he was elected Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council. His first major act was to nationalize the western oil companies in 1972, a move as popular at home as it was unpopular abroad. Arguably, it was this move that set in motion a chain of events that would lead to his execution and the tragedy that is present-day Iraq.
Hussein was only one of the four mid-eastern autocrats we supported. Three are left. There is Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt. We pay his government $1.7 billion a year. King Abjullah II of Jordan gets $700 million annually. Lastly, King Abdullah Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. He received $5.7 billion in 2008.
But of the four, Saddam Hussein was the only progressive dictator. Preinvasion Iraq was the most advanced and westernized Arab country. As long as one steered clear of politics, he was safe and could lead a life no differently than a citizen in any western democracy. Shiites and Sunnis lived peacefully, side by side and even intermarried. Women were free to dress as they chose in either traditional Islamic garb or in western style, including miniskirts when they were in fashion. Higher education and employment were open to all regardless of religion or sex.
Hussein modernized the economy, instituted an equitable redistribution of farmland, pioneered public transportation, invested heavily in infrastructure, made remarkable improvements in health care, and raised the standard of living. President Hussein was even awarded an accommodation by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization for initiating a compulsory, free education program.
He was often seen in TV news clips surrounded by cheering crowds shooting celebratory volleys from AK-47s into the air. One wonders, how many western presidents would allow themselves to be placed in a similar situation?
Yes, Hussein was, indeed, a progressive dictator, but he was also a brutal suppressor of all opposition, suppression that cost the lives of many but an unknown number of Iraqis and Kurds during his thirty-seven-year reign. The Lion of Iraq was also the Beast of Baghdad.
Three years ago he climbed the 13 steps to the gallows. His crime was crushing a rebellion of Kurds with poisonous gas. These chemical agents were sold to him by the United States under a "duel use" understanding, that is, these agents could be employed for both agricultural and weapons' use.
There was no doubt in anyone's mind that it would be the latter. Hussein used poisonous gas often during his eight-year war with Iran.
Our efforts to replace the dictatorship of Saddum Hussein with a quasi-democratic government have proved to be an amalgamation of iron and clay. The nation, if governable at all, is divided by ethnicities, religions, sects, languages, and dialects of which there are almost two dozen.
The Iraq of today is in shambles, the economy in ruins, the infrastructure of roads, bridges, highways in disrepair; basic services of electricity, water, and sanitation are a fraction of prewar standards.
It is a supreme irony that Saddum Hussein was hanged for the murder of 148 noncombatants, yet the number of civilians killed during the war to end his rule and the following six years of occupation have caused the deaths of 1 million Iraqis, left 5 million orphans, and created 2.5 million refugees.
In American currency, the cost of the Mesopotamia misadventure is 4,371 U.S. servicemen (as of Dec. 29), 32,000 seriously wounded, and $800 billion.
And the oil fields? They are back once more in the western fold.
New Milford, PA
Keep The Unity All Year
I want to say thank you to all who made this year’s Christmas meal work, starting with all the planning, all the food that was donated, all the cooks and workers. A Good Samaritan started this three years ago, and we have many people from the community come together to help. It has nothing to do with a church, but with Christ in your heart. We also want to thank Regina at the Lanesboro Community Center.
Let’s keep this unity all year long, not just at Christmas time.
Thank you, and may you have a blessed new year.
Pastor Kevin Setzer
Body of Christ Church
Toy Drive A Success
The Kiwanis Club of the Montrose area would like to extend a gracious thank you to all the wonderful people of Susquehanna County for making this year’s toy drive such a tremendous success. We also want to thank the Susquehanna Transcript for their assistance by publishing information pertaining to the 2009 Toy Drive.
The people of Susquehanna County truly opened their hearts and their wallets and gave so much during the 2009 Christmas season. The need for helping our neighbors was as great, and even greater this year, as it has been in past years. The public’s response to the call for help was extremely heart-warming, generous and overwhelming.
Thanks to the donations of many people, businesses, churches and organizations, we were able to make this Christmas a day filled with joy and hope by providing at least 3 to 5 new and used toys per child. This year a total of 950 children throughout Susquehanna County received Christmas gifts. A total of almost 3,800 toys and games (new and used) were collected and distributed.
The Montrose Kiwanis Club has been a part of the Christmas Toy Drive for the past 30 years. The job of coordinating registrations and distribution continued in the capable hands of the Interfaith Christmas Bureau located on Public Avenue in Montrose. Toys and food baskets were distributed on Thursday, December 17, at the Montrose Bible Conference on Lake Avenue in Montrose and the United Methodist Church on Church Street in Montrose. In addition, winter coats were also provided for needy families at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on the same day.
Thanks again for helping us share the spirit of the Christmas season. To envision the smiles on the faces of the children who received the toys is the greatest gift any of us can receive!
Chairman, 2009 Kiwanis Christmas Toy Drive
The family of Rebecca Napolitano would like to take this opportunity to thank the American Legion Post 86, Main Street, Susquehanna, PA, for sponsoring a benefit in Rebecca’s honor. A life long resident of Susquehanna, Rebecca was recently diagnosed with lung cancer.
Thanks to the caring and dedicated employees and members of the Legion, they raised a total of $5,792.00 to help with expenses our family will endure. Also, we would like to thank family and friends for their time, effort and donations to make this benefit a success.
Rebecca was overwhelmed with the amount of support displayed by the community at this difficult time.
The Napolitano Family
To The Library Board
I fully understand your position as directors of the library and the current situation with the budget cuts. I am a business person and I fully realize that the most controllable expenses of any business is payroll. I also understand that the library must be run as a business in order to remain viable. And so I can understand the need to cut hours to save overhead costs.
However, let us not forget that the library is a public service business.
The change in the library hours is going to eliminate a broad spectrum of that public that you serve. By eliminating both evening hours and Sat. morning hours, you have very effectively blocked that segment of the public population who work regular business hours, i.e. 9 to 5, and commute to work. This is a very large segment of our local population, as most of the local jobs are no longer in existence. This is also going to affect the children of these working class people, the education of these children especially.
It seems obvious that with the current hours of operation, the library use will decline. This will lead to further budget cuts and probably end up with the closing of one or more branches of the library. I would hate to think that this is the ultimate goal of the change in hours. I would like to see the Board consider the position of the general public who access or desire to access the library, and how this and all decisions affect us.
Perhaps the Board can rethink the decision and alter the hours. Perhaps each local library could close 1 or 2 weekday mornings, and add an evening or Sat. morning to the schedule. That would not increase the total hours of operation, and would allow the library to be more accessible to more of the local people.
If each of the local branches is open on a different evening and closed on a different morning, that would be beneficial to even more people. Someone who is unable to access their hometown library due to scheduling restraints, may be able to access another branch library. This would increase the overall library use, and serve the public simultaneously.
And after all, that is the purpose of the public library, is it not?
Perhaps the Board would consider an open forum discussion, to allow public input, and help to establish a more viable and all around more satisfactory solution to this current situation. After all, you accept our monetary input, especially for the new library building. What will the hours of operation be for that? Is that going to be our only operational library in the future? I hope that is not the ultimate goal. And while the finger pointing obviously goes to Harrisburg, and even beyond, I think that more can be done here at the local level to accommodate the local working taxpaying people.
Lauretta L. Clowes
You have all heard at one time or another “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” I want you to connect that with the health care bill currently working it’s way through Congress. The trees are all the haggling about public option, federal funding of abortion, increased deficit, federal takeover of one sixth of our economy, the outright bribery for the votes of government officials and the like. These are all the trees which obfuscate the forest. The forest is the goal of the Progressives, concealed by the attention brought to the trees. That goal is the power and control which will be placed in the hands of government and all the politicians and bureaucrats who are salivating at the prospect, even as you read this piece. I invite you to read very informative observations penned by author, veteran, retired attorney and teacher of constitutional law, Michael Connelly. His homepage and blog can be found at michaelconnelly.viviti.com. You will be enriched by what he writes. Prepare to dedicate a few minutes to this.
The second item I encourage you to take the time to view is on the subject of 2nd Amendment rights. Check out the video titled “Why They Want Our Guns” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=j73SsNFgBO4&NR=1&feature=fvwp.
This entire exercise will take the better part of a half hour, perhaps the best use of that amount of time that you will ever take. Better that we nip in the bud all these efforts to destroy our Constitution rather than to have to resort to the three G solution later. I don’t believe that this country is going to take it lying down.
Elk Lake, PA
This last Christmas Day, a deeply devout Muslim young man attempted to bring down a jet airliner with an explosive, secreted in his crotch.
That incident inspired nostalgia for my gig as a stand-up comic. Well, more to the point, it piqued my curiosity as to whether it could provide material for an “after-midnight” routine. Anyway, I began my research more out of that curiosity than intent to resume provoking inebriate losers to laughter.
I came across an article about the failed suicide bomber in The DAILYMAIL, a British newspaper. The article served up quite a few quotes about his loneliness and his problems of an intimate nature. As I read the piece, I was reminded about an episode of the Barney Miller TV sit-com of years ago.
In the episode I have in mind, a recurring gay character, who was always good for a laugh, appears. And he unburdens himself about how difficult it was for him to come to terms with his sexual orientation.
Very little intellect was required to infer that Umar Farouk Abdulmetallab, the would-be jet airliner killer, suffers from virtually identical torment as did that Barney Miller character.
Okay, here’s the bottom line. The al Qaeda “bedbug” recruited as an aspirant to martyrdom through suicide bombing (get this) is a self-loathing homosexual.
Talk about marvelous material for stand-up comedy!
Now that I think about it. Several of the “9/11” Twin Tower bombers, whose faces appear in that notorious composite graphic, look rather, well, “light in the loafers.” Now I’m starting to wonder whether the al Qaeda bedbugs deliberately try to recruit self-loathing homosexuals for so-called martyrdom operations.
Oh, dear Lord, I am completely unable to help myself. I gotta do this riff:
“Are you a self-loathing homosexual? If so, you are in luck! Get in touch with your friendly neighbor al Qaeda operative. Do we ever have a career path for you! You retire early. And you’ll have all eternity to play backgammon with seventy (70), that’s right seventy virgins. They’re guaranteed to stay virgins.
“You’re not a Muslim, you say. That’ll be no problem. Over the Internet, the good ol’boys of al Qaeda will tell the world you converted ten seconds before you met Allah. Self-loathing homosexuals, what are you waiting for? Get your ticket to Paradise now! You have choice of airlines! And you’ll fly business class. Only the best is good enough for self-loathing homosexuals, eager to meet Allah.”
A Alexander Stella
TO THE EDITOR POLICY
Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript
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