On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Saddam caught but the war is far from over

I arrived in London
a day after Saddam was caught like a rat. There was near hysteria in the
British capital.

Even the conservative broadsheets sounded like
supermarket tabloids, with the same headlines and blown-up picture of Saddam on
their front pages.

Saddam was ridiculed by almost all the news commentators
for not having the guts to kill himself. One newspaper speculated that Saddam
would be executed by July.

While Bush and Blair differ over whether Saddam should
get the death sentence, they agreed that Saddam should be tried by fellow

They don't seem keen in letting the International Court
of Justice in the Hague decide on
the fate of Saddam, saying the Iraqis are capable of a fair trial, but many
have questioned the wisdom of handing Saddam to his political enemies.

It is strange that the fate of Saddam should be decided
by Iraqis when it was the Americans who overthrew and captured him.

There has been speculation that the Americans do not want
Saddam to turn the court into a theatre where he would probably project himself
as a victim of American oppression in the Arab world. He would probably play
the religious card to garner support from Muslims worldwide.

In the case of Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic, the
world had to cope with a long-winded, expensive and unending process.

Bush certainly wouldn't have the patience because he has
an election coming up, while Blair must check his declining popularity.

Saddam must have seen how Milosevic defended himself
effectively against the prosecutors.

Saddam may even bring up evidence of how the US
worked with him to attack Iran,
which would be potentially embarrassing. The same fears are probably being felt
by the Arab allies.

More importantly, the world is not going to be a safer
and better place with the arrest of Saddam. A day after his arrest, it was
business as usual for terrorists who launched another round of bombings.

Until Bush re-examines his policies in the Middle
East, nothing will change. That is the root cause of the problem,
which he unfortunately is not willing to admit.

Let's not forget that Osama bin Laden has yet to be
arrested; even if he is, his web of terror will not disappear.

Bush and Blair have received their Christmas gifts but
the US-led troops won't be home for Christmas this year – that's for sure.