April 30, 2003

Is Saddam in the House?

The following is an open memo to George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and Tommy Franks.

Distinguished gentlemen:

I have been following the war on Iraq with as much precision as the media allows. Recent developments—namely, the capture of Baghdad—have prompted me to write this memo to you, the above-mentioned parties. Consider this a personal invitation for a screening of the popular science fiction classic “Independence Day” at my crib in Lafayette, Louisiana (for my address, please contact Homeland Security, if you haven’t already).

Why would I deign to think that you would accept my invitation? It has everything to do with the signs of our supposed “liberation” of Baghdad. Seeing the immense throng of Iraqi people tearing down the enormous statue of Saddam Hussein brought tears to my eyes. The seemingly slow-motion capsizing of the behemoth statue definitely marked a turning point in world history and will be retold for generations to come.

I won’t even go into the facts about the statue demolition, which took place in a plaza heavily fortified by U.S. tanks and populated mostly by the American press. I’ll forget that, in a city of nearly five million inhabitants, only an estimated 1,000 residents were present. I’ll even glance over that the American flag on Saddam’s head drew boos from the crowd; after all, it WAS promptly replaced with an Iraqi flag (albeit an outdated, pre-1991 version). And never mind that it was an American convoy who actually tore down the statue. None of this is truly relevant to my point.

The Polite Press has declared this an easy victory for the coalition forces, the advancement to Baghdad having taken only three weeks. So we’ve destroyed monuments and pictures of Saddam, as well as decimated all of his palaces. We also toppled Saddam—well, we got his statue anyway. That should count for something! But come on now, does this really mean that the Iraqis have been liberated?

This is where my invitation comes in. “Independence Day” involves an evil civilization of extra-terrestrials bent on destroying the Earth. In the United States, they systematically destroy the White House, Capitol Hill, major commerce centers, military bases and just about everything else anchored to the ground (including the STATUE OF LIBERTY!!!). What the aliens don’t count on, however, is our president escaping and rallying the people on to total victory. The lesson of the movie is that, though buildings fall and cities crumble, it takes more than that to keep a leader down. Quite the contrary—our great president (remember, this was 1996) jumps back and personally kicks butt.

You can RSVP me anytime at (337) 984…on second thought, forget about it. I’ll just make my point right here and save you some taxpayers’ funds for more ammo. We can dent up dictatorial sculptures and invade palaces all we want; like any pro sports owner can tell you, however, stadiums come and go. Until we make a point of apprehending this tyrant, we will never truly have victory and closure. The same goes for Osama bin Laden, wherever he is.

Maybe getting our dirty hands on Saddam never was the objective. Maybe it had been for the past nine months. Since then, however, the war has been about confiscation weapons of mass destruction, payback for civilian mistreatment and—as of 2:26 p.m. last Friday—liberating the Iraqi people. Any way we slice it, we will not have accomplished any of this until are able to tell Saddam face-to-face. If only he still controlled the oil—maybe that would motivate us.

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