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Saddam II

The return.

By Bruce Stockler

Republicans and Democrats now share a common anxiety about Iraq: Has America won the war but lost the peace?

Despite the death of Saddam Hussein's two sons and the elimination or capture of a good two or three bridge-hands' worth of bad guys, the situation on the ground in Iraq, for many Americans, appears hopeless and unwinnable.

I propose a simple and elegant solution: Bring back Saddam Hussein.

Sound crazy? Reinstalling Mr. Hussein will solve Iraq's internal problems, get our troops out of harm's way, save us $14 billion a month, and unite the rest of the world, West and East, left and right. Even the French will be frolicking over their fromage. The argument:

First, the U.S. military, the Bush administration and patriotic Americans everywhere can continue to celebrate America's handsome battlefield victory. We remain 2-0 in Iraq. Returning Iraq to Saddam is a purely political move, and the blame can be placed on State Department quislings, the yellow-bellied liberal media, and the anti-American technocrats at the U.N.

Second, the American people will understand. We're deep into the summer of stinky sequels — The Matrix, Charlie's Angels, Terminator, and Legally Blonde. So Saddam II will be a comfortable piece of programming. Americans understand the logic of sequels as much as the logic of cutting and running. And who doesn't love a second-chance story? Also, the original and the sequel play in the same summer — Now, that's synergy.

Third, we escape our current lose-lose situation. Any disastrous outcome — civil war, a Vietnam-style quagmire, oil disruptions, hot war with Iran and Syria, revolutions in Pakistan or Indonesia — will be our fault. Once we turn Iraq back over to Saddam, it's on his shoulders and on his buddies in Damascus, Riyadh, and Paris. We're only the relief pitcher. The closer takes the loss.

America's nitpicking naysayers finally will be silenced. All those elitist, hypocritical, and self-hating critics will see their charges of U.S. military and cultural imperialism evaporate. I suggest we send a Lincoln Brigade of 250,000 Columbia University grad students, alt-newspaper editors, and grassroots peace activists to Iraq to help coordinate the transition back to the Baathist lifestyle whose sovereignty they so passionately defended.

What about finding Saddam? Well, trying to rehire Hussein for his old job should prove easier than dropping a tactical conventional weapon on his head. We can also convert the U.S. military's $25 million dead-or-alive bounty into a "finder's fee." Jumpstarting Iraq's career-networking sector will be an economic-stimulus freebie.

Won't Saddam return to his old tricks — murder, repression, terrorism, bilking Iraq's economy? Doubtful. Saddam knows we're not kidding around anymore. Just because he's not dead under 50,000 pounds of high explosives doesn't mean we didn't come this close to killing him. (We did.) When the most awesome superpower in world history wants you dead, you're dead, buddy, and if, for some reason, you are not, well, that's really just a statistical anomaly.

What message will Saddam's return send to Iran, Syria, North Korea, and the other axles of evil? This is the brilliant part. Returning Saddam to power is such an unpredictable, confusing, and outside-the-box piece of political strategy that our enemies will spend years trying to divine our motives. No country could draw any rational foreign policy conclusion. Arab nations may question if Saddam is working for the CIA or if he is, in fact, a body double. Our closest allies will be at a loss to understand our motivations as well. Imagine the river of Xanax and Paxil that will be flowing into the U.N. as the befuddled delegates try to move their diplomatic chess pieces around a board we have not only wiped clean but packed away and stuffed into the attic.

As such, our political and military power will increase tenfold overnight. Just as in high school, nobody wants to fight the craziest guy on the block, especially when he is also the biggest, smartest, strongest, and most-heavily armed.

Lastly, the return of Saddam will ensure that President Bush receives proper historical credit for launching the Iraq war in the first place. With the Iraqi dictator back in power, President Bush will finally have incontrovertible evidence of the Iraqi regime's possession of weapons of mass destruction — Saddam Hussein himself.

— Bruce Stockler is a media-relations consultant and humorist. His memoir of family life, I Sleep At Red Lights: A True Story of Life After Triplets, was recently published by St. Martin's Press.

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