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Saddam #045; a coward or dead?

The Pentagon, saying Saddam Hussein may well be dead, is challenging him to show his face if he isn't, and it's not hard to perceive the psychological warfare strategy behind the talk. What's left of Iraq's military would be even more demoralized if convinced their leader is slain, after all. And if Saddam should step forward, he could make himself a coalition

target.

But strategy or no strategy, the evidence that he survived the initial attack of the war is zero. Some tapes of Saddam have been shown on television, but there was nothing in the tapes to prove them current. Indeed, the complete lack of clearly contemporary content for two weeks suggests they are old tapes chosen for broadcast because they could not be linked to a specific time.

Statements have been issued in his name, but they, of course, could have been composed by anyone. And the Saddam-lives vows emanating from his top lieutenants mean nothing. These men could quickly see everything collapse for them if they did not pretend he was around.

There is at least this much evidence that Saddam has perished or is incapacitated: the apparent lack of effective command and control of Iraqi military operations. Judging by news reports, remarks by U.S. military leaders and the observations of military analysts, the Iraqi military is dodging about without much sense of direction.

The defense of Baghdad has seemed almost aimless at times, although there could still be fierce street fighting within the city when coalition forces stage an entry.

Of course, given the precision bombs falling on his bunkers and the Special Forces paying a visit to one of his Baghdad palaces, Saddam may well figure that the only way to stay alive is to hide out and communicate with as few people as possible.

The chief other possibility to his being dead or seriously incapacitated is that he is down deep in a hole somewhere. If he is and also shares responsibility for telling his soldiers that they should risk all because God is on their side, he is a coward and a hypocrite in addition to being a man of almost inexpressible evil.

Birmingham Post Herald

April 4, 2003