Former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, who delivered a eulogy at President Gerald Ford’s funeral today, appeared this morning on the Don Imus radio show. Brokaw agreed with Imus that it is “difficult to imagine” how the execution of Saddam Hussein “could have turned out worse.”
“[W]e portray ourselves around the world as the champions of democracy and the rule of law,” Brokaw said, yet Hussein’s execution “resembled the worst kind of nightmare out of the old American West.” As a result, Hussein, who “had disappeared, in effect, as some kind of a symbol over there, suddenly becomes a martyr.” Watch it:
IMUS: Could we have a worse turn of events with the Saddam Hussein video and all that?
BROKAW: No, it’s — you know, as we portray ourselves around the world as the champions of democracy and the rule of law — first of all, that began to unravel in the eyes of a lot of people in that part of world with Abu Ghraib and the great cruelties and indignities that were imposed on people there. The debate goes on here about Guantanamo and about access to people’s private records. And then to say that we are going to install in Iraq a judicial system and a democratic form of government and have something that resembled the worst kind of nightmare out of the old American West. Not much dignity. He was, he was a god awful man and he did have a trial, but not have control of the execution, and to have it really just fuel more sectarian violence at a time when we are trying to dampen that is not helpful, which is an understatement.
IMUS: Well, I guess the New York Times reported and I was also talking to Richard about that the United States apparently unsuccessfully prevailed about Maliki to delay this.
IMUS: I wonder, I wonder why he refused? I mean…
BROKAW: I honestly don’t know either. But Saddam Hussein who had disappeared, in effect, as some kind of a symbol over there, suddenly becomes a martyr. He was a terrible tyrant who was responsible for an untold number of deaths, you know, waged his own jihad against the Shiite in that country, especially in the south following Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s, and now he’s able to stand up there with the hood off and invoke prayer and even invoke the Palestinians, and go out in the eyes of his people at least as a martyr.
IMUS: I mean, it’s difficult to imagine how this could have turned out worse.
BROKAW: No, it is pretty difficult to imagine, and it’s, you know, just as the military commanders and the political people who are trying to run the war think that they’ve got something quieted over in one front, it pops up in another.