Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Speech No One Gave

I feel really stupid. I wrote a piece for this space this week which...vanished into cyberspace. Who do you gripe to when the Internet lets you down? Nobody, I guess. What you missed was a semi-wicked sendup of the President's latest victory plan in Iraq, however that's defined. It even included dialect, something Mr. Bush is not shy about using, especially as he goes south of the Mason-Dixon line. Perhaps my words will show up someday after a little round trip to Jupiter, though I doubt it.
This week it's the "angel" of the President's better self speaking, except that it never happened. The date would have been around Christmas, about three weeks ago. I'll leave out the dialect this time.

My fellow Americans, I know many of you have followed with interest the trial of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's former dictator. The people of the United States can count themselves blessed to have never had a head of state who so brazenly put his own interests ahead of his country's citizens.
Unfortunately, the Iraqis suffered for decades under his rule, from oppression, fear and want as a result of his selfish designs. The trial made clear his plan to install a reign of terror on the Iraqi people from which they are still attempting to emerge.
The United States had a large role in helping to provide a fair trial for Saddam Hussein in spite of his long enmity toward our country. Our funds helped pay for his defense. No fair observer could say that he did not have opportunity to defend himself from the charges under which he was finally convicted.
The law of the new Iraqi government calls for the death penalty for Saddam Hussein, and indeed his crimes go far beyond any that I have had any connection with, either as governor of Texas or as your president. There can be no question of his guilt of the charges brought against him, and of other crimes which are well documented. The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, and his removal should deter any on earth from aspiring to such a level of evil.
As you know, I signed the death warrants of over 100 convicted felons as governor of Texas, and would not hesitate to do so in the case of Saddam Hussein. However, that is not my decision to make. The authority for Saddam Hussein's fate is with the Iraqi people, be they Sunni, Shia, Kurd, Christian or Jew.
I have met with the Iraqi leaders regarding this matter. Saddam Hussein's fate is not merely his own. Some would use his execution as an excuse for sectarian violence, with potential to carry into future generations. We see the issue as more, therefore, than just the fate of one man.
We have agreed that, in order to begin a process of national reconciliation to commute the sentence of Saddam Hussein. He will be permitted to live out his life under strict conditions of imprisonment, in a country far removed from the Middle East region. His care will be managed by a coalition of small UN detachments from countries of every continent, and paid for jointly by the UN, the United States and Iraq. Though not intended as an act of compassion for this evil man, we have determined to continue his health care and personal religious observances and to discontinue the questioning which we have subjected him to for some time.
Killing must end if we are to have any hope of living in peace. We call on all parties in Iraq and in the larger region, governments and non-governmental, military and civilian, secular and sectarian, to consider this an invitation to lay down our arms and begin anew, knowing that we must continue as geographic neighbors for the forseeable future. The God we mutually recognize in one form of another would wish for us peace and mutual respect. We make no demands on anyone who now sees the United States as an enemy. We have no territorial ambitions, and simply hope that our act of mercy will bring a similar response from all parties. Neither is this done to curry favor with any one faction involved in this too-long black hole of strife.
Saddam Hussein is being transported as I speak to his final home. We guarantee that he will be treated humanely under the rules of the Geneva Convention, which as ruler of Iraq, he had no use for. Let me be as plain as possible. We undertake this action, which we know carries risks, in order to save innocent lives in the Middle East and elsewhere. We further propose a meeting of all combatant parties in Iraq to construct a framework for future Iraqi peace. Preparations for this great conference are underway in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia and coincidentally the largest majority Muslim city in the world, to be host to all concerned parties.
Let it be said that great nations not only made sacrifices in the 21st century in wars, but that they risked all to achieve peace. My fellow Americans, and fellow human beings everywhere, goodnight.


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