I agree with Carol Anderson's comments about the need for more balanced coverage of America's orientation to the Iraqi situation, although I clearly disagree about what's been left out. Since the beginning of the debate about the need to pre-empt Saddam Hussein's addiction to weapons of mass destruction and to murder and war, the lack of information passed on to the public about his history and habits have been glaringly absent. This being so, perhaps a quick primer will do us all good.
His excellency Saddam, upon finally murdering, slaying and assassinating his way into undisputed power (which came naturally, as these tasks had basically been his job in the Ba'th party since childhood) assembled over 200 Iraqi political leaders for an acceptance-declarative speech. With the doors conveniently sealed by palace guards (thugs), Saddam read a list of approximately 60 names of less than committed people in the room. The remaining participants were then invited-obliged to personally execute the named on the spot. I'm sure at that point if there had previously been any doubt in the survivors' minds about their bond to their new leader, that doubt understandably vanished.
Let's jump a dozen some odd years hence and for the sake of brevity leave out the virtually ceaseless brutality, murder and tyranny, the Iran-Iraq wars and the thousands upon tens of thousands of native Iraqis who died at their government's hand in the interim.
Almost immediately after the end of the 1991 war with the U.S., Hussein's military and security forces (which comprise about 10 percent of the population) massacred approximately 80,000 Iraqi Kurds and other native tribesmen, and displaced well over 500,000 because of their revolt (read lack of support and attempted coups) during and after his Kuwaiti war efforts. Some of these "revolters" were quartered in their village square by trucks. Many, many thousands were killed via chemical and biological weapons.
While we have heard of the occasional young mothers being raped and beheaded in front of their families because of their husbands' disloyalty to the regime and refusal to implicate their extended relatives and fellow villagers, clearly our information about Iraq has not been "balanced."
These are but very brief glimpses of His Excellency Saddam's outlook on life. I suppose it's good that some of us feel secure enough to question our country's perspective on Iraq. I most assuredly don't share that feeling of security. I also don't harbor any illusions about Hussein's concern for our allies' well-being, or his Hitleresque schemes for the Middle East. His despotic regime is a very real and very grave danger to the "balance" of world peace.
I'm just thankful I'm not his friend and neighbor!