As usual, Anne Applebaum's sharp intelligence cuts through the nonsense. Her points:
1) Saddam belonged to the well-known species of 20th century totalitarian dictators who begin by terrorizing their own people and then spread that terror to others (e.g., Hitler, Stalin).
2) We collaborated with him in his devastating war against Iran, not recognizing the threat he offered - we being the U.S., Germany, France, Russia, and others. (Compare the appeasement of Hitler by the French and British).
3) The U.S. and other countries did not recognize his regime for what it was (the horrors of internal terror) until he invaded Kuwait (just as, for example, we did not recognize the Nazi regime for what it was until the German invasion of Poland in 1939).
4) We're arguing now about what his death means to us, not to the Iraqis - "Write that Saddam really was an evil man, and you'll be thought an apologist for George Bush. Write that Saddam's regime resembled Stalin's, and you'll be called a right-wing ideologue."
5) Someday Iraqis may be able to have an objective discussion about the damage Saddam's regime did to their country.
6) "Maybe someday Americans or Europeans will also find ways to discuss Saddam as something other than a pawn in their own games or as a figure in their own political debates. But I doubt it."