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August 17, 1990 - Image 29

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-08-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

who despised British influence over Iraq,
took him in and, it is widely believed, first
planted the seeds of nationalistic fanati-
cism and ruthlessness that Saddam Hus-
sein has since displayed. The uncle's
daughter later became his first wife.
He joined the then-underground Baath
Party — an anti-Western, pan-Arab, so-
cialist movement — while still a student.
Apparently his first role in the party was
that of hit man.
"He was a member of the young thugs
of the Baath Party," noted Robert 0.
Freedman, dean of the School of Gradu-
ate Studies at Baltimore Hebrew Univer-
sity. "He's just an ugly guy."
According to various reports, his first
action on behalf of the Baaths was to kill
a prominent supporter of Iraq's military
dictator at the time, Abdul Karem
Kassim. That brought him to the atten-
tion of party leaders, who selected him, at
age 22, to join a group that later tried to
assassinate Kassim.
Saddam Hussein was wounded in the
failed attack, but he managed to escape
to Syria before turning up in Egypt at the
invitation of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the
Egyptian strongman who also sought to
unite the Arab world under his rule and
who was Saddam Hussein's hero.
In 1963, he returned to Iraq. When the
Baaths engineered a bloodless coup to
take control of Iraq in 1968, Saddam
Hussein emerged as second in command.
In reality, he was the real power behind
the nominal leadership of President Maj.
Gen. Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr.
When Maj. Bakr resigned some 11
years later, he assumed full power. One of
his first acts was to have 21 of his leading
rivals executed.
In 1982, Saddam Hussein is reported to
have personally shot to death a cabinet
minister who dared say during a meeting
that the invasion of Iran, a decision that
ravaged the Iraqi economy and cost Iraq
an estimated half- million casualties, had
been a mistake.
True or not, Saddam Hussein apparent-
ly delights in spreading such tales about
himself.
"He is the type of ruler who deliber-
ately spreads stories about his toughness
in order to frighten neighboring states,"

"He is the type of ruler who
deliberately spreads stories
about his toughness in
order to frighten
neighboring states."

— Barry Rubin

Barry Rubin of the Washington Institute
for Near East Policy wrote in the Wall
Street Journal. "...He likes people to
think he personally executes foes with his
bare hands."
Much has been written about Saddam
Hussein's goals and motivations: his de-
sire to dominate a united Arab world, his
hatred of the West, Israel and even other
Arab leaders (such as those of the Gulf
States) whom he sees as corrupt tools of
Western interests; his mercurial temper,
desire for personal glory and nationalistic
fervor.
Dr. Cantori, for one, believes that
Saddam Hussein's primary objective in
invading Kuwait was purely economic,
given his country's immense foreign debt
stemming from the conflict with Iran.
"The real issue is oil pricing," he said.
"It was about who controls oil and at
what price it will sell."
Others are convinced that his motiva-
tion is to lead the Arab world and elimi-
nate the State of Israel. A. M. Rosenthal,
the New York Times columnist suggests
that Saddam Hussein's "passion against
the Jews is what counts," and that a
Holy War against Israel is his chief goal.
But because Saddam Hussein is a loner
who, as far as it can be determined, con-
fides in no one, little can be said about
him with any great certainty.
A glimpse of how extreme his isolation
is surfaced during a June interview with
ABC's Diane Sawyer, a portion of which
was rebroadcast by the network last
week. At one point, Ms. Sawyer asked
him why it was a capital crime in Iraq to
"insult" the president.
Incredulously, an unsmiling Saddam
Hussein asked through an interpreter
whether that was not also the case in the
United States. When she said no, he
stared at her for a moment as if in disbe-
lief.
"His advisers are afraid to give him
bad news (and)...he is prone to make mis-
takes because he doesn't understand
many things outside of Iraq," Amatzia
Bar'am, a Haifa University professor and
Iraq scholar, told U.S. News & World Re-
port.
Israeli intelligence officials recently
had Saddam Hussein's handwriting
analyzed. They concluded that he suffers
from severe megalomania complicated by
symptoms of paranoia. But such in-
quiries reveal little about the man.
"The best intelligence in the world is
still short one key detail when it comes to
Saddam Hussein," said Oded Ben-Haim,
the acting spokesman for the Israeli Em-
bassy in Washington. "And that is, what
is going on in his head. No one knows
this.
"We can put forth scenarios, but he
does not act logically. So no one can tell
you how he makes a decision. Except that
he breaks all rules of behavior."

Local Response
To Israel's Role

Marcel Thurman,
CPA, West Bloomfield

Gary Nitzkin,
CPA, Huntington Woods

"Israel must keep as far away as
she can from Iraq. Irael is being
dragged into it against her will.
The Arab propaganda is pushing
Israel into it. Israel must be
prepared for any possibility."

"While the Arab community can-
nibalizes itself over oil, Israel
should maintain a low profile and
enjoy the respite from the Arab-
perpetuated anti-Israel propagan-
da."

Steve Golden,
businessman,
West Bloomfield

Susan Salomon,
chiropractor,
Farmington Hills

"Israel should have everybody on
alert and just be ready. Israel must
sit back and be prepared to inter-
dict it before it gets there. If Israel
sees troops firing, she should be
prepared to strike."

"Israel should stay out of it as
much as she can at this point.
Israel should let the other coun-
tries handle it."



THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

29

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