The rise and fall of Sad­dam Hus­sein

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

— Sad­dam Hus­sein

SI ex­pect to die a vi­o­lent death, with noth­ing but the tip of my pinky fin­ger re­main­ing be­hind.

ad­dam Hus­sein grew up bare­foot in a mud hut in the town of Tikrit, north of Bagh­dad on the Tigris River. He never met his fa­ther. His mother, Subha Tul­fah, was deeply dis­turbed — sui­ci­dal and homi­ci­dal. She re­peat­edly tried to kill the child in her womb. In one episode, she jumped in front of a bus, where, ac­cord­ing to an apocryphal ac­count, the de­ranged wo­man screamed: “I am giv­ing birth to the devil.” Some wit­nesses re­called the preg­nant wo­man bang­ing a door against her dis­tended belly.

Against all odds, the child sur­vived his mother. When he was born, she gave him the name “Sad­dam” — mean­ing “the one who con­fronts.”

Aban­doned by his mother, Sad­dam was raised by a po­lit­i­cally ac­tive un­cle, who be­came his role model, and taught him to be a geno­ci­dal racist. When the bud­ding despot was an ado­les­cent, his un­cle wrote a pam­phlet ti­tled, “Three Whom God Should Not Have Cre­ated: Per­sians, Jews, and Flies.” Sad­dam later turned the ti­tle into a credo, etched on a plaque on his of­fice desk.

Upon tak­ing power, Sad­dam trans­formed Iraq into a mon­u­ment to him­self. The mega­lo­ma­niac sought to re­build the Bib­li­cal city of Baby­lon — a $200-mil­lion project in which ev­ery 10th brick was in­scribed, “Baby­lon was re­built in the reign of Sad­dam Hus­sein.” This would be his apoth­e­o­sis, but it was never com­pleted, stopped by the man Sad­dam hated as much as Jews: Ge­orge W. Bush. By dis­patch­ing U.S. troops to Iraq in 2003, Mr. Bush ended 2 1/2 decades of non­stop ter­ror by Sad­dam, in­clud­ing the widest use of chem­i­cal weapons by any na­tion since World War I.

As part of the 1991 Gulf war cease-fire, Sad­dam agreed to al­low U.N. weapons in­spec­tors to dis­pose of Iraqi weapons of mass de­struc­tion, which he claimed he did not pos­sess. As the in­spec­tors soon learned, how­ever, his arse­nal was stag­ger­ing, in­clud­ing bioweapons like an­thrax and bo­tulinum toxin. His coun­try re­mains the only in his­tory to weaponize afla­toxin, a sub­stance that grad­u­ally causes liver can­cer and has no bat­tle­field util­ity what­so­ever; it could be used to give can­cer to cer­tain eth­nic groups.

U.N. in­spec­tors also un­cov­ered an enor­mous Iraqi nu­clear weapons pro­gram. Spread among 25 fa­cil­i­ties, the $10-bil­lion pro­gram em­ployed 15,000 tech­ni­cal peo­ple. Based on a Man­hat­tan Project bomb de­sign, Iraqi sci­en­tists pur­sued five dif­fer­ent meth­ods for sep­a­rat­ing ura­nium.

The world feared how Sad­dam’s clan­des­tine sup­port of WMD might be cou­pled with his open sup­port of ter­ror­ism. The fi­nal ter­ror­ism re­port of the Clin­ton State De­part­ment de­voted more words to Iraq than any other coun­try. In April 2002, Sad­dam pub­licly of­fered $25,000 to fam­i­lies of Pales­tinian sui­cide bombers who blew them­selves up while killing Jews. Abu Ab­bas and Abu Nidal, the two most wanted ter­ror­ist ring­leaders of the last 20 years, both lived with safe haven in Bagh­dad.

Sad­dam op­er­ated his own ter­ror camps. One of the most chill­ing was a fa­cil­ity south of Bagh­dad called Salman Pak, where ter­ror­ists (prior to Septem­ber 11, 2001) had con­ducted train­ing mis­sions on a 707 fuse­lage, where they prac­ticed the art of hi­jack­ing an air­craft with­out guns, us­ing only knives and uten­sils. Just like the Septem­ber 11 hi­jack­ers, th­ese ter­ror­ists were mostly of Saudi ori­gin.

By 1998, the watch­ful eye of the global com­mu­nity had frus­trated and en­raged Sad­dam, and he did his best to fur­ther ob­struct U.N. in­spec­tors. That De­cem­ber, in­spec­tions stopped. The world wrung its hands over how to get Sad­dam to com­ply.

Then came Septem­ber 11, which, as Ge­orge W. Bush said, “changed ev­ery­thing.” The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion re­sponded by first re­mov­ing the Tal­iban gov­ern­ment that har­bored Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Es­ti­mat­ing the next dev­as­tat­ing at­tack could be or­dered by Sad­dam, Mr. Bush de­cided the Iraqi dic­ta­tor was an un­ac­cept­able dan­ger in the post-Septem­ber 11 world. He judged the only way to dis­arm Sad­dam was to dis­lodge him.

Sure, the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion had other rea­sons for re­mov­ing him — hu­man rights, the ob­jec­tive of cre­at­ing a “demo­cratic peace” in the Mid­dle East — but Sad­dam’s his­tory with WMD and spon­sor­ship of ter­ror­ism were the two pri­mary fac­tors in the 2003 in­va­sion.

The wis­dom of th­ese goals con­tin­ues to be hotly de­bated. Yet, one thing is now cer­tain: Sad­dam Hus­sein’s abil­ity to per­pe­trate vi­o­lence against his na­tion, his neigh­bors and the world is fin­ished — mori­bund. He was ex­e­cuted Dec. 30.

Sad­dam stands al­most alone among mod­ern tyrants in that he re­ceived due jus­tice. He is dead as a re­sult of Amer­i­can in­ter­ven­tion, as are the two thugs we once feared as his heirs: his sons, Uday and Qusay. This is a mag­nif­i­cent achieve­ment, un­think­able five years ago.

Con­trary to pop­u­lar per­cep­tion, we did find some WMD in Iraq af­ter the 2003 in­va­sion, though we did not find the stock­piles we ex­pected. Im­por­tantly, as for­mer U.N. chief in­spec­tor David Kay re­ported, we did dis­cover “in­tent and in­fra­struc­ture” by Sad­dam to again “ramp up” WMD pro­duc­tion once a tired, di­vided in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity threw in the towel on the in­spec­tions process.

Thanks to a sim­pler process — a hang­ing — Sad­dam will never re­al­ize his nu­clear am­bi­tions. His prophecy of dy­ing a vi­o­lent death was re­al­ized, but, mer­ci­fully, not in the gi­ant ex­plo­sion we all long feared. The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s daunt­ing longterm task in Iraq out­lives him, far from com­pleted, and dan­ger­ously un­sta­ble. Yet, the dan­ger posed by Sad­dam Hus­sein is fi­nally over. That’s a big, big deal — one worth cel­e­brat­ing.

Paul Ken­gor is au­thor of “The Cru­sader: Ron­ald Rea­gan and the Fall of Com­mu­nism” and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Vi­sion & Val­ues at Grove City Col­lege in Penn­syl­va­nia.

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