Saddam was a nasty genocidal-class tyrant. Perhaps realpolitik would have required the West to make him a friendly tyrant -- a son-of-a-bitch, but our son-of-a-bitch, as Franklin D. Roosevelt once referred to a president of Nicaragua -- and Europeans certainly flirted with the idea even after the Americans abandoned it.
Here's a hint:
Ah, if only the West had thought of making Saddam an ally! If only!
The same profound understanding of history runs through Jonas's November 11 column on Saddam's death sentence:
Whether they are worth holding together is a different question. Britain and France created modern Iraq in 1921 for reasons of their own. Those reasons no longer apply. Perhaps there's nothing wrong with an independent Sunniland, Shiadom, Marsh Arabia and Kurdistan. But as long as we feel that it's in the world's interest not to let a federation lapse into its constituent parts, the solution isn't to imitate Dr. Frankenstein by breeding some two-headed calf, a democracy without democrats, but to help nations of Iraq's ilk install a saner and friendlier strongman than Saddam. Prototypes include Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf or, in a deluxe version, the Shah of Iran. If they get out of hand, hanging them is always an option.
That's just gotta work! Hey, whatever happened with the Shah, anyway?