When I read about Saddam Hussain, I almost pity the man because he was such a dumbass. A pure, arrogant dumbass.
In the 1980s, he had all the support he could ever wanted from the United States and Europe. He was fighting Iran, who was seen as the main terrorist nation in the world at that time. Compared to other Arab states, Iraq was sectarian and fairly progressive within his own nation. He had the same backing as other tinpots such as Ferdinand Marcos. He was seen as sectarian and anti-Communist.
Then he fucked it all up by going into Kuwait. Shooting missles at Israel. If Saddam came as a peacemaker towards his Arab neighbors and quiet on Israel, his fat ass would be sitting in one of his castles right now, today, instead of the absolute personal hell of losing his family, including his two sons (whom he loved very much) and being the poster boy of terrorism worldwide which he did not deserve in the first place. I assure you, Saddam Hussain had no idea what went on when 9-11 happened. His first words in Arabic was one that was spoken by millions of people in hundreds of languages ("What the fuck???).
His regime was anti-fundy Islamist all the way. If he never invaded Kuwait and 9-11 did not happen, Saddam would be seen as America’s best friend in the Arab world instead of its pariah.
I think what killed him was pride obviously. Pride comes before a fall, or down the spider hole.
What I’ve read (no cite yet) was that he thought had obliquely let the US know about his designs on Kuwait, and thought he’d received a nod and a wink that his behaviour would be ignored. It came as a huge surprise to him when the West turned on him.
No cite needed I would imagine, this is pretty common knowledge.
Our ambassador was not totally clear, and he got the wrong message.
This is one reason I favor bluntness in international dealings. Glaspie’s reply was typical overly polite diplo-speak when she should have stated unequivocally that the US would intervene if Saddam attacked.
Sort. It wasn’t a huge surprise, but he had to gamble and he lost.
Despite what you may think, the US didn’t care about Saddam that much, so long as whoever replaced him was on “our side.” Dictators had been rotating in and out of power in Iraq since independence. Saddam was just the most successful.
Saddam ran into a problem when he got involved in the Iran war. He thought it would be a pushover war and an easy propaganda piece and way of helping to further secure the military’s support, not to mention bring in more resources and riches for use in patronage.
When the Iran war turned into such a disaster, his support within the military began to slip and his hold become a bit more tenuous. He needed a new, easy victory that would bring in prestige and more resources for patronage. Hence, Kuwait. Kuwait had been claimed by Iraq due to old Ottoman structures and more or less a desire for ports and oil. So he gambled that the US wouldn’t care enough to actually invade and kick him out. He tried to feel out the US diplomatically, and as jjimm mentions, he never really got anything definite either way out of it.
But basically, he had to. The US wouldn’t bother protecting him from a coup (provided the right people overthrew him) and after the disaster of Iran, he was in real danger of being overthrown. And he knew it.
So his choice was to risk a very good chance of being overthrown by the military, or risk the somewhat less likely chance (in his mind) that the US would invade. He gambled and lost.
Well Saddam wasn’t the first nor the last Ruler to use War to further his political strength and for propaganda purposes… and if the first war didn’t give you enough bang for the buck… just invade another country. Never mind reasons to do so…
No, I don’t think so. He seemed Islamicist enough to me, and smart enough to play games with our diplomats too. There is no way with that and his actions toward Israel and/or his Arab nationalism policies he’d have stayed on our good side for the duration. Something was bound to erupt.
Is it possible that Glaspie (and the US) deliberately misled Saddam about our feelings towards a possible Kuwait invasion, because we wanted him to screw up? In other words, mislead Saddam into pissing off the international community so that we could eventually have a lever to use to justify an invasion and annexation of Iraq?
The potential value of Iraq’s oil fields has been known for a long time, and a US-friendly Saddam would have been merely another Saudi Arabia-type arrangement, where American oil availability would be dependent on the whims of another. Easier, instead, to set up Saddam for a fall, claim Iraq as the spoils of war, and have a guaranteed supply of oil for the next 30 years.
There’s the issue of the ambassador, and to be more general, I think Saddam figured that even if he crossed America, he wouldn’t have to pay the kind of price he did. Though the leash was longer than it was, if you will. He wasn’t such a brave man.
This is the new Mother of all Conspiracy Theories.
It assumes that Reagan lured Saddam into his confidence so that Bush 41 could stab him in the back by letting him think that invading Kuwait was OK, which of course it wasn’t as proven by the first Gulf War, which was the setup for Bush’s son to invade and defeat Saddam a full 12 years later, which of course Bush 41 knew would happen because he threw the election to Clinton and in the process made Clinton so popular that he would remain in office for eight years so that his son would be ready and popular enough to run for, win, and assume the office of President of the United States, which of course Bush and reagan helped to happen by packing the Supreme Court in anticipation of the Florida controversy of 2000, just in time to reap the fruits of the WTC disaster that Bush 41 and Reagan, by now a vegetable, orchestrated years before in order to allow Bush 41’s son to have the opportunity to invade Iraq.
Just trying to help you flesh out the details, rjung. If I missed a step in your Vast Right Wing Conspiracy theory, let me know. I think I got all the high points, though.
I never said I believed it, Doors. Merely pointing out the possibility. America’s projected growing dependence on oil, the advantages of securing a foreign source (rather than relying on allies such as the Saudis), and the untapped reservoirs sitting beneath Iraq, have been known for decades. It doesn’t take Dick Cheney to realize that any excuse/opportunity to secure a foreign source of oil would be a major geopolitical advantage.
Did you have anything to bring to the table other than your knee-jerk jingoism?
First of all, you’re forgetting about the Iran-Contras affair. During Iraq’s war with Iran both Israel and the United States violated UN sanctions and shipped thousands of missiles to Iran, so it’s not as if he didn’t have a valid grudge against those two nations prior to the invasion of Kuwait.
As for the invasion itself, there were accusations against Kuwait claiming they were slant-drilling into the Iraqi parts of the Rumallah oil fields stealing hundreds of thousands of barrels a day. In addition to that there were Kuwaiti settlements inside Iraq’s borders.
My take on it is: Fighting a war for a decade is expensive. He needed the cash, and figured the US owed him after supporting his enemies in the 80’s, and assumed they wouldn’t intervene. And since Kuwait used to be a part of Iraq anyway, that could be used as justification. I’m not sure if anyone ever made that argument though.
Obviously, that’s not the way it panned out, but it wasn’t completely unlikely that it could have.
A cunning and cagey survivor he is ( or was ), but never an Islamist. He rose to power and maintained his rule in a self-consciously secular organization ( the Ba’athist Party ), championed secularism in Iraq ( self-serving or not ) and real Islamists like ObL have long denounced him as an apostate. His appeals to Islam were pure lip-service and he didn’t even make many of those until after he was threatened by an international coalition in Gulf War I and he was looking for every bit of propaganda and leverage he could to rally support.
It could conceivably be argued that SH has/had NO real ideology, but instead was a purely opportunistic ladder-climber. But if he did have any, there is pretty much zero evidence to suggest that it was in any way Islamist in nature. He certainly never championed Islam as the law of the land in Iraq.
That’s pretty much where my money goes. Even his atrocities were nothing more than exercises in political expedience. The original ideology of the Ba’ath Party was secularism, socialism, and Arab unification. Saddam’s willingness to feign religious piety, embezzle the people’s wealth, and alienate his Arab neighbors demonstrated his ideological hypocrisy.
It also suggests to me that he had thoroughly studied Machiavelli, particularly the part about making your actions appear full of humanity, compassion, and faith, so that nobody looks too hard into your true motivations.
I’m of two minds on this. If it walks like one, talks like one, looks like one…and who made Osama the arbiter of one true Islam anyway, it’s like the Quakers having issues with Southern Baptists.
But there is a lot of situational evidence that he merely used it for political purposes too, back in the 90s. But not in the 80s when he was at war with Iran…then many people were in agreement that Islamic fundamentalism was a threat, including Iraq and the US. (These days I think he’s just insane.)
If his goals were completely secular, then what explains his huge problem w/Israel even before 1981?