And that’s fine. That’s been going on for a long time, and it doesn’t look like it will stop now. The problem is that political leaders in this nation want to believe something that ignores years of history and decades of poor foreign policy decisions.
They want to believe that Saddam Hussein is a deranged, psychotic monster with no motivation.
Now, I’m not trying to tell anyone that Saddam is a good guy – at least, not any more. But somewhere amid all the propaganda, a lot of facts about Saddam have been lost.
See, Saddam was, in fact, an extraordinarily good leader at the beginning of his time in the Middle East. He was in favor of secular government, in opposition to his Muslim neighbors. He wanted women to be able to attend school, actually instituting nationwide free reading classes for the 50% of the population that had gone largely ignored before. His policies increased the literacy rate and the number of social services in Iraq, and suddenly it was a nation of civilization and affluence.
In fact, Saddam was just the kind of guy the U.S. ought to have made friends with. And sure enough, it happened, but more because of the age-old principle: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
The U.S. was fighting with Iran at the time, and Saddam wasn’t too keen on the Muslim nation’s existence in general. So what did we do? We said, “Hey, Saddam, good buddy. You go in, attack Iran, and we’ll make sure you’re well taken care of.”
With that kind of backing, what’s a leader to do? Saddam spent nearly a decade fighting Iran, spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. He sent his nation into poverty, expecting the U.S. to make good on its promise of support. And in exchange, the U.S. gave him weapons to fight his enemy.
After the war, though, U.S. support consisted of . . . nothing. That’s right. See, our nation, in international circles, has about as much honor as that one friend that keeps asking if you’ve got twenty bucks to spare but never gives it back. We do this all the time – have someone fight for our side, send them some weapons we would probably be surplusing in a year or two anyhow, and let them duke it out. To hell with the consequences, we don’t need to worry about those people over there.
Until we do.
And that’s what’s happening today. Saddam, faced with an impoverished country where grocery bags are used as wallets because of the incredible rates of inflation and a nation that broke every promise it ever made to him, is itching for a chance to get even. In a twist that’s made national headlines recently, he’s even been running his biological and chemical weapons programs with information and bacterial strains we gave him back when we called him “friend.”
Of course, just because someone’s got a legitimate gripe against the U.S. doesn’t mean we should all say “hey, Hussein, attack my neighborhood!” – but it does mean that we should look on recent developments in a new light.
We certainly should not compare Hussein, who was a beacon for social progress in the
Middle East for years, with the oppressive fundamentalism of Osama bin Laden. He is the polar opposite of Al Qaeda – the leader, in fact, of a government Al Qaeda stands against.
We should not declare him psychotic, evil, and unpredictable. He is doing what a lot of people, when betrayed by someone they thought was a close friend, would do. He’s working on a plan for revenge. Bad? Yes. Unpredictable? Hardly, unless you have an amazing lack of foresight.
Why does the government insist that Saddam is a psychotic evildoer, with no rationality or logic? It’s pretty scary to think that way – to think that, unprovoked, someone could just pop up and try to destroy our nation. At least, that’s how it is for most of us.
For the government, though, it’s a lot easier to think he came out of nowhere, with no cause at all. After all, if they’re blind to history, they don’t need to remember that it’s their dishonesty, their broken promises, their lack of honor that created the enemy they now face.