Eleven years ago, international politics was not at the top of your list of interests. If memory serves, it was nowhere on your list of interests. Yet some things seem to stick in our communal memory no matter how old we are.
On December 13, 2003, the American military (go Team!) executed Operation Red Dawn which sounds like a movie title because the operation was named after the Patrick Swayze movie Red Dawn. [Extra points if you can name the best Patrick Swayze movie ever. There is a correct answer.]
Operation Red Dawn was conducted in the Iraqi town of ad-Dawr (near Tikrit) by the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division with Special Forces from Task Force 121—an elite and covert joint special operations team. They were assigned the mission of capturing or killing Saddam Hussein.
The team searched two sites based intelligence that Hussein was in the area. No Saddam. But being the kind of soldiers they are (namely American) they continued searching nearby suspicious looking spots and found Hussein in a “spider hole.”
A “spider hole” is military talk for a highly camouflaged, one-person foxhole which is generally shoulder deep. Spider holes are used as observation posts or (as in this case) hiding spots.
A military historian I’ve never heard of says the term spider hole was first used in the Civil War. However, according to William Safire (who knows pretty much everything about our American language) the term was first used during the Vietnam War where one of the characteristics of holes was a large clay pot big enough for a crouching man. The clay pot protected the person from spiders and snakes. Guess who I’m going to assume is correct?
This particular spider hole was pretty darn big (big enough for an evil terrorist to lie down at the bottom). Saddam (the evil terrorist) did not resist capture (apparently the sacrifice yourself for the cause thing was for Other People not him). Instead, El Brave-o presumably said, “I am Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq, and I want to negotiate.”
I am quite sure my thoughts are by no means the rudest on the planet, but I’m quite sure they aren’t the kindest either.
The Best Patrick Swayze move ever is Dirty Dancing. Duh.