“”He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.
|—Colin Powell, 24 February 2001|
“”We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.
|—Condoleezza Rice, "CNN Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer", 29 July 2001|
Saddam Hussein was the Devil Incarnate upon this earth.
He was a typical brutal dictator, gassing his own people (the Kurds) with supplies from the United States when he was supposed to be gassing the Iranians. One day he made the critical mistake of attacking another sovereign state (Kuwait) to avoid paying some bills. While, up to that point, he'd been a staunch ally of the United States, President George H. W. Bush knew that allowing Hussein to get
control of too much oil away scot-free would be a really bad precedent.
Ten or so years of no-fly zones and economic sanctions later, Hussein was toying with the idea of selling oil in Euros, when he accidentally failed to get deeply involved in sending a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives to attack the United States on 9/11 (In the sense of "having seen it happen, like everyone else on Earth with a television"), while also trying to
build a nuclear weapon make use obtain chemical and biological weapons, sealing his fate.
 Rise to power
 Youth and education
Saddam Hussein started off as a typical street thug with an abusive father. Lacking a good education and without any proper role model, a young Saddam became a ruthless criminal. Few people could have imagined he would one day emerge from his poor surroundings to become one of the most well-known, charismatic, and renowned political leaders of his era.
Saddam had an avid interest in history from his early years, a passion that would deepen after he became president. He fancied himself an admirer of Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt. A self-avowed Socialist, Saddam was strongly aligned with the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Nonetheless, he maintained repeatedly that he had a deep respect for the United States and that the technological achievements of America had no equal in any other nation.
Saddam studied briefly at an Iraqi law school, but dropped out in 1957 to join the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party that would later dominate the country. Founded by Syrian Christians, the party was based on such principles as Arab nationalism, anti-Communism, staunch secularism, anti-capitalism, and educational advancement. It was an outspoken advocate for improving women's rights in the Arab world and for abolishing the political power of the clergy.
Saddam was indoctrinated with anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi propaganda as a youth by his family. He was a frustrated young man in his twenties, in desperate need of direction.
Saddam, even as rebellious teenager, felt strongly about the political issues of the day. He deeply admired his uncle, Kharaillah Tulfah, for his role in fighting the English in the Anglo-Iraqi war of 1941 (Tulfah would later author "Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Persians, Jews, and Flies," a racist Iraqi government propaganda pamphlet). He despised Israel, viewing it as an outpost of colonialism in the region. His hero was Abdel Nasser of Egypt, and Saddam was inspired by his example to join the revolution against monarchy throughout the Arab world, a movement which saw the collapse of such regimes in Libya, Iraq, and Egypt. It is widely believed that Saddam belonged to the Futuwa, a paramilitary youth organization which was modeled on the Hitler Youth and was formed in Baghdad in the late 1950s.
 The rise of the Ba'ath Party
The US-backed Iraqi monarchy was overthrown in 1958, an event which shocked President Eisenhower. Worse, the new regime was led by a de facto Communist dictator, General Abdel Karim Qassem. Qassem was far bloodier than his predecessor. Further, he withdrew from the Baghdad Pact, an agreement between Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and other countries in the Middle East intended to deter the Soviets from intruding in the affairs of the region. Openly admiring of the USSR, Qassem repeatedly threatened his neighbors, including Iran, where a CIA-sponsored counter-coup had saved the Shah's regime from collapse in 1953. He publicly declared that Khuzestan province in northern Iran was really a part of Iraq, and allegedly armed secessionist revolts from the Arabs who lived there. He amassed troops to invade Kuwait, a move that nearly led to war between Iraq and England (which was committed by treaty to defend Kuwait).
Qassem was overthrown in a 1963 coup orchestrated significantly by the Ba'ath Party. The Ba'ath Party gained limited power in the new government, though it lacked control of the Presidency. It struggled with the military men who had assisted the coup for absolute power. The Ba'ath was purged a few months later, and would have to work to regain political influence. A series of coups and power struggles plagued Iraq until 1968, when the Ba'ath Party gained long-term power. During this time, Saddam gained increasing prominence in the Ba'ath Party. He consolidated more control as a result of the 1963 and 1966 purges within the party that removed the "moderates" and dissidents from within. Remembering the internal squabbles that cost the Ba'ath the limited power that it had gained in 1963; Saddam promoted party loyalty and would later design the security apparatus that enabled the creation of an effective police state.
In July 1968, a bloodless coup led by General Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr, Saddam Hussein and Salah Omar Al-Ali besieged the Iraqi presidential palace and forced Iraqi President Abdul Rahman Arif to resign. The new regime immediately freed all of the Communist and leftist political prisoners of the regime, and heightened tensions with Iran. The Lyndon Johnson administration was vociferously opposed to the new regime, viewing it as a "radical" government brought to power in a "counter-coup" that strengthened the Soviet Union. As a result, diplomatic relations with Iraq, cut off due to the 1967 Six Day War with Israel, remained completely severed for the next 16 years. The Iraqi government promptly seized all foreign oil fields for the purposes of "combating imperialism." The US made all arms sales to Iraq under this new regime formally illegal in a law passed by the US Congress.
 Covert subversion
Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, with the support of National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, used the CIA to orchestrate a campaign of sabotage and subversion from 1972 to 1975 for the express purpose of bringing down the government of Iraq. The CIA infiltrated Iraq via Iran and worked with Iranian agents in Northern Iraq to supply arms to Kurdish rebels then trying to topple the regime. Fearful the Iraqis would suspect Iran's role, the US protected its ally Shah Pahlavi by sending Iran large quantities of Russian arms captured by Israel from the Arabs in the 1967 war. These weapons were used to arm the revolt, but they could not be traced to the Iranians. Kissinger, a geopolitical realist concerned with global stability but disinterested in reforming the world, decided to abandon the Kurds in 1975. After a series of border skirmishes between Iraq and Iran over the Khuzestan province, he helped draft a peace treaty between Iran and Iraq to avoid potential bloodshed. To ease tensions, both he and the Shah proposed ending aid to the rebels. The peace treaty was signed, but many Kurds were subsequently slaughtered. "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work," Kissinger opined.
In the midst of this impasse, it was not often remarked that perhaps covert action does not always lead to an intended or desirable result. Ironically, the Ba'ath Party had first risen to prominence in a CIA-sponsored coup. The CIA under Eisenhower and Kennedy had dealt with the rather similar problem of Qassem's leftist regime in a rather similar manner: CIA-sponsored regime change. The CIA repeatedly attempted to assassinate Qassem, armed Kurdish rebels against his regime, allegedly plotted a joint US-Turkey invasion of Iraq to remove him, and worked to isolate him diplomatically. The CIA had contacts with the Ba'athist plotters of the 1963 coup in Iraq and Egypt, and CIA records suggest it financially assisted the coup. Writing in his memoirs of the 1963 coup, long time OSS and CIA intelligence analyst Harry Rositzke presented it as an example of one on which they had good intelligence in contrast to others that caught the agency by surprise. The Ba’ath overthrow “was forecast in exact detail by CIA agents.”
"Agents in the Ba’ath Party headquarters in Baghdad had for years kept Washington au courant on the party’s personnel and organization, its secret communications and sources of funds, and its penetrations of military and civilian hierarchies in several countries… CIA sources were in a perfect position to follow each step of Ba’th preparations for the Iraqi coup, which focused on making contacts with military and civilian leaders in Baghdad. The CIA’s major source, in an ideal catbird seat, reported the exact time of the coup and provided a list of the new cabinet members. …To call an upcoming coup requires the CIA to have sources within the group of plotters. Yet, from a diplomatic point of view, having secret contacts with plotters implies at least unofficial complicity in the plot."
The CIA would have paid a lot of money for this steady supply of information, especially because American planners had determined that the Ba’ath Party would be the best for U.S. policy in Iraq going forward in 1962. The First Political Secretary of the U.S. Embassy in Iraq in 1963 during the coup, Bill Lakeland, has admitted that CIA officer Ed Kane told him that the U.S. “had people who informed us about things…The CIA was kept aware of what was happening…[The CIA] had paid informants within the Ba’ath, but had no control of any operational…It was ultra secret….” The best direct evidence that the U.S. was complicit is the memo from NSC staff member Bob Komer to President John F. Kennedy on the night of the coup, February 8, 1963. The last paragraph reads, "We will make informal friendly noises as soon as we can find out whom to talk with, and ought to recognize as soon as we’re sure these guys are firmly in the saddle. ________excellent reports on the plotting, but I doubt either they or UK should claim much credit for it." Thus, when former CIA Near East Division Chief James Chritchfield claims the 1968 coup was a "radical" "counter-coup," perhaps his language reflects the reality that it overthrew a government the US covertly helped bring to power. It has been said that the Iraqi Ba'athists told their Syrian comrades, in their own defense, that they "had come to power on a CIA train," just as Lenin had been sent into Russia to launch his revolution on a German train in the First World War.
The US's temporary alliance with the Ba'ath ended briefly after the US-backed Iraqi President, Salam Arif, purged the Ba'ath from the government in late 1963. Saddam was apparently arrested in 1964 for trying to overthrow that government. A series of power struggles within the ruling party and the Ba'ath brought the most extremist elements of both to the fore. Salam Arif was overthrown in the 1966 coup that brought his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, to power. Though the US continued to assist the regime due to the armed revolt against it by the Iraqi Communist Party (which was increasingly aligned with the Ba'ath); in 1967, in the wake of the war with Israel, Arif expelled all of the Americans from the country and cut off all ties with the US. Arif's regime collapsed just one year later, leading to the Ba'athist takeover of Iraq.
 The final chapter
General al-Bakr was named President. Though he was a little-known figure outside of Iraq, Saddam quickly became the second-most-important Iraqi official in the country. He was the formal vice-president by 1973. Saddam headed the security apparatus of the state, and thus had considerable leverage to intimidate opponents from within the party as well as from without. He visited countries such as France to represent Iraq throughout the seventies, and signed a treaty of friendship between Iraq and the Soviet Union. While the US worked to destabilize the regime, Moscow's massive supplies of military aid helped to keep it afloat and to avoid a collapse. The Soviet Union played a crucial role in training Iraq's secret police. However, relations between the two countries did occasionally grow strained due to Brezhnev's open disgust at the persecution of Iraqi Communists by the state.
Saddam would regularly tell his colleagues that he sought to make Iraq "into a Stalinist state." They all assumed he was joking, and when they began to suspect he was serious; it was too late to stop him. Al-Bakr attempted in 1979 to demote Saddam to a position of relative obscurity. Saddam responded with a counter-coup, forcing al-Bakr to resign and conducting a ruthless purge of hundreds of Ba'athists to intimidate the rest of the party into acquiescence. He was named President of Iraq on July 16, 1979.
 Crimes against humanity
Saddam Hussein was a uniquely brutal tyrant, far worse than Qassem or Al-Bakr. He made Assad of Syria look like a sissy in comparison. It is estimated that at least 250,000 were killed or disappeared by Saddam's regime. By the time of the invasion, Saddam's regime was killing people at a rate of 15,000 to 20,000 per year.
Methods of torture employed by Saddam's regime included: amputation of tongues, crucifixion, eye-gouging, genital electric shock, gang rape, mutilation with electric drills and vats of acid, imprisonment in confined spaces in darkness for years at a time, and the amputation of limbs.
Veteran BBC correspondent John Sweeney said during Saddam's rule: "I have been to Baghdad a number of times. Being in Iraq is like creeping around inside someone else’s migraine. The fear is so omnipresent you could almost eat it. No one talks."
Saddam's deliberate manipulation of the sanctions regime cost the lives of tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, most of whom were women and children. Saddam was the only dictator since Adolf Hitler to commit chemical genocide. In 1987-88, Iraqi Air Force helicopters rained chemical weapons – including mustard gas, Sarin, and VX nerve gas – upon scores of Kurdish villages, causing tens of thousands of Kurds to die of suffocation and burning. Those inhabitants who managed to flee to makeshift refugee camps were summarily executed by Iraqi ground troops. Saddam launched further widespread massacres against Shi'as and Kurds to halt the 1991 rebellion, in which tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were slaughtered.
 See also
- ↑ http://www.gulfwarvets.com/arison/banking.htm
- ↑ http://homepage.ntlworld.com/jksonc/docs/ir655-nightline-19920701.html
- ↑ http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/saddam/interviews/critchfield.html
- ↑ Harry Rositzke, The CIA’s Secret Operations: Espionage, Counterespionage, and Covert Action (Boulder, CO: 1977), 109-110.
- ↑ United States, Department of State, Nina J. Noring and Glenn W. LaFantasie eds. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, vol. XVII: Near East 1961-1962, 364-365.
- ↑ William J. Zeman, "U.S. Covert Intervention in Iraq 1958-1963: The Origins of U.S. Supported Regime Change in Modern Iraq," (Thesis (M.A.)--California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Dept. of History, 2006), 52. http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AQk-oiHeEQzzZGNzams5Zm5fM2hrZnJxc2Zr&hl=en
- ↑ Zeman, 97.
- ↑ Roth, “War in Iraq: Not a Humanitarian Intervention,” Human Rights Watch, January 2004: "twenty-five years of Ba`th Party rule ... murdered or 'disappeared' some quarter of a million Iraqis"
- ↑ http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/889tngrz.asp?page=3&pg=2
- ↑ http://www.fas.org/news/iraq/1999/09/iraq99.htm