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Understanding The Genius Of Saddam Hussein


By James Donahue

March 2005


Before his death in 1937, the late King Faisal, the first monarch of contemporary Iraq, wrote: “Regrettably, I can say there is no Iraqi people yet, but only deluded human groups void of any national idea.”


Faisal recognized the fact that there were many divisions within the framework of the society that attempted to live together under one flag.


He wrote: “Iraqis are not only disunited but evil-motivated, anarchy prone and always ready to prey on their government.”


King Faisal came to power by force. The British army went into the territory in 1920 to put down a revolution among the tribal chieftains. It took brutal force mixed with bribes and cunning diplomacy. Britain lost an estimated 2,500 soldiers before the conflict was brought to a close.


During Faisal’s reign, Britain favored the Sunni Muslim minority, representing about 20 percent of the people. This caused bad feelings among the Shiite Muslim majority and the ethnic Kurds. This instability dated back to the Ottoman rule when the Sunnis embraced the Ottoman system and gained power and control of the territory while it existed.


That make-shift nation has been seething ever since.


That U. S. President George W. Bush is attempting to bring democracy overnight to a seething hotbed like this would almost be laughable, if it were not so tragic for the families of more than 1,500 American troops that have already given their lives in the latest conflict. Also tragic is the slaughter of an untold number of Iraqi civilians caught in the crossfire of war.


What Bush doesn’t seem to understand, but rival Saddam Hussein knew quite well, was that no Iraqi government can function without the backing of the tribal chieftains.


After Faisal’s death, Hussein rose to power in 1979 after years of bloody political turmoil marked by numerous military coups. Saddam subordinated the army and a large sector of the country under his Baath Party, thus turning the country into an autocracy.


The Bush Administration touts Hussein as a monster, a harsh dictator that smashed his enemies by force and ruled his country with an iron fist. Since toppling Hussein and trying to Americanize Iraq, however, Bush is learning that the Iraqi people are not that easy to manage.


Divided not only by ethnic and religious differences, the Iraqi people also are tangled in a web of big business interests behind the world demand for oil. Insurgent bombings are believed to be financed by outside political forces interested in making sure that American-styled democracy never gets a foothold in the Middle East.


Thus Mr. Bush has opened a political and religious can of worms that America and the world will be hard-pressed to close again. Hussein had a working formula, but his Baath party, and that army that fed his power, has been dismantled.


Many scholars believe Hussein’s Baath Party was the only viable political organization that was capable of holding Iraq together. Before the U.S. invasion, they urged party reforms in a more peaceful way of taming Hussein’s extreme ways of doing business.


As it turns out, they might have been right.


The only man who knows how to put it back together again is sitting in an unidentified prison cell, awaiting trial before an Iraq kangaroo court for alleged war crimes and civil atrocities.


Hussein’s enemies, still smarting from the days of dictatorial misdeeds, are bound to see him shot in the public square.