Saddam Hussein has been putting on quite a show.
As you may have heard, he walked out of his trial on Sunday. This came after a new judge was installed on the bench after the first judge quit.
Pressure. The first judge got tired of walking around with a bullseye on his back and you can see how it would be that way.
You don't have to understand Arabic to see that in the minds of many Iraqis — particularly insurgents, former Baathists and Sunni Arabs — Saddam Hussein is winning this argument.
Saddam is animated. He is passionate. He makes his point with facial expression, the arch of his eyebrow, the widening of his eyes. He is the face of scorn, the expression of indisputable reason and the countenance of real authority.
By contrast, the new judge looks determined, but you can see the flicker of doubt on his face and just the slightest expression of "uh-oh" that says, "Saddam has lots of old friends with lots of guns and lots of bombs."
The whole point of changing judges, of course, was the pressure on the former judge of government officials demanding to know how and why Saddam is taking over this court.
Nothing has changed on that count — Saddam owns this courtroom.
You can sense it, without even knowing the language. In this courtroom, Saddam Hussein speaks the universal language of personal dominance.
As far as Saddam is concerned, he is still in charge.
Of course, he is on trial for his life and the court may yet — probably will — impose the death penalty and the image of Saddam's mastery of this court may well fade.
All that may come to pass — all that should come to pass — but in the meantime, as long as this trail is on television, Iraqis are reminded that while they have cast off their chains, they better not let their resolve weaken. Because if they do, the devil of old is ready to reassert himself.
And Americans should watch too because they need to remember this is not a guy you let off the ropes.
That's My Word.
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