Is Saddam the key (repost)
Here’s what I had to say about the possible capture of Saddam a month or so ago.
Back in early April, I observed that the Iraq campaign was a war of absences. Some of the mysteries posed by those absences have now been resolved. For example, everyone now knows that the Weapons of Mass Destruction did not exist. But the big remaining mystery is Saddam. It seems pretty clear that he got away from Baghdad safely, and likely that he’s still alive.
On thinking about it, I have the feeling that Saddam is, in a sense, the key to the entire situation. On the one hand, suppose Saddam is caught or (more likely) killed. Whether or not this led to a reduction in terror/resistance attacks, the pressure for a quick American withdrawal would, I think, quickly become irresistible. For most of the Americans who still support the war, this would, I think, count as “Mission Accomplished”, whatever happened in Iraq afterwards.
On the other hand, as long as Saddam is at large, and the security situation remains anything like it is at present, a US withdrawal will be seen as “cutting and running”, and will therefore be resisted with great vigour.
Now we’ll see if this analysis stands up.