Spider Holes

There’s been a lot of chatter on how Saddam’s capture in a hole means that there’s no way he could have been organizing the resistance in Iraq. He probably wasn’t but for the sake of argument, it’s interesting to note what a "spider hole" is – as Dave Winer notes, it’s a term from Vietnam to describe the holes dug by the Viet Cong.

Saddam wouldn’t have used a phone or any other form of electronic communication – they would be too easy to track. However, couriers would be the easiest way to pass information between Saddam and the insurgents. It’s the way battlefield messages have been passed around for millennia.

That being said, I think that the capture of Saddam will not entirely stop the terrorist attacks in Iraq. They will cause some of the hard-core Ba’athists to say to hell with it and lay down arms, but those aren’t the ones who are doing most of the damage.

It will cause a sharp drop in recruiting for these groups – the Arab world’s honor/shame culture tends not to back losers, and Saddam has definitely proven to be a loser. There will still be attacks, but the long term results of this momentous event has finally shifted the momentum in this capture away from the insurgents and towards the Iraqi people. This moment is the beginning of the end for the terrorists and the beginning of a new potential for peace and democracy in the region. This is a cause for great celebration, and the Iraqi people have been doing just that since the world got the news that the Butcher of Baghdad has been pulled from his hole.

One thought on “Spider Holes

  1. Can I just offer a quick observation without being accused of “pissing on the parade?”

    You’re right to say that this capture will cause a decline in the short-term recruitment of terror groups. What we might be missing, though, is a fact that you yourself, Jay, point to many times:

    Most Iraqis really, really, really hate Saddam Hussein.

    And with damn good reason, I’d say. But how does this play in to the current terror schema in Iraq, now that he’s gone?

    Let’s just consider what groups might benefit from the capture other than the Iraqi people as a whole. Specifically, I’m thinking of al-Qaeda and Answar al-Islam, and it’s got me a bit concerned.

    Now that the possibility of Saddam returning to power is completely and forever removed (my lips to God’s ear…), Iraqis that really, really hate Saddam AND really hate the idea of an American occupation can now join or offer support to other groups confident in the fact that they will not be aiding Saddam. While we will see Ba’athist attacks diminish sharply, we may see an uptick in the efforts of Islamic fundamentalists to attack the occupation or hinder the reconstruction. The fright factor from this is increased when you consider that neighboring Iran now doesn’t have to stomach the thought of a returned Saddam and might now be more open to the idea of aiding Islamic terrorists in Iraq. Even if the Iranian government doesn’t offer assistance, you can probably be sure that fundamentalist groups and mosques within Iran will take up the slack.

    Considering the situation the US has faced in Iraq, the capture of Saddam Hussein was a necessary and welcome step. However, it might very well be the beginning of something terrible, as well as the end of something terrible.

    Just sayin’.

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