Humanities 11 (H)
October 25, 1996
LIVING WITH THE MAN
The Middle East is an extremely volatile region of the world, and much of the
current instability may be due to one man, Saddam Hussein. During the last few years,
under Hussein's direction, Iraq has gone from being an oil rich country to a country that is
suffering major embargoes and is low on supplies. Iraqi leaders are trying to leave as they
realize how power can corrupt a man. If Hussein stays in power, the future looks bleak
for the Gulf region.
Iraq used to be a prosperous country. Oil was the main source of income for the
area. During the Iran-Iraq War (Gulf War 1), which was from September 1980 to August
1988, Iraq went from being a wealthy country to a very poor country, nearly over night.
Hussein had used all energy available in that war, and he came out of it losing over 1/3 of
the entire male population of Iraq (Allman 61). Saddam feels that is actions were justified
because he believes the Iran-Iraq war was a conspiracy by the US, Britain, and Israel to
undermine Iraq (Kondrache 11). This leads people of the world to believe that this is a
man who will stop at nothing to achieve what he wants. He was willing to risk his whole
nation for a more money. High financial priorities? Survey says "yes".
The basis on which Hussein is in power is controversial. He was not elected to his
position, he took it. There was a military coup in 1968 that led him and his Ba'ath party
to power. He was not elected, as until last year, there had not been an election since the
coup (Cooperman 49). This says that Hussein has been a tyrant from the start, and his
need for power is incredible. He wants complete domination of the Middle East, if not the
Iraq is now a country struggling to survive. It is in the midst of an embargo, and
the people are suffering. Death rates are up, and the amount of food available is declining.
Saddam is displaced from his people, though. He is not feeling the same effects as they
The Pursian Gulf War erupted in 1990 with Hussein ordering an invasion of
neighboring Kuwait, on the grounds that Kuwait was stealing oil from in Iraqi oil field.
The US became involved in this war for the next year, and they successfully pushed Iraq
out of Kuwait. Iraq, however, feels that it won this war. The leaders of Iraq were still in
power after the war ended, so the popular idea in Iraq is that they won the war. An
Eastern European diplomat commented "Victory is when the ruler stays in power, no
matter how many people he kills, no matter how much the country is ravaged" (Allman
62). The Gulf War was a moral victory for the Iraqis, or that is what Saddam has led
them to believe. He gained nothing for his people but a second of hope. This hope may
have already flickered out.
After the Pursian Gulf War, the US imposed an embargo on Iraq. Nothing comes
in or goes out of the country. As a result of this, there is a shortage of food and medicine.
The UN sees this problem, and has offered Saddam an option. If he agrees to Resolution
986, the country would be able to sell oil in order to buy supplies for it's people.
However, the UN would have control over how much and to whom the oil was sold.
Saddam says no, as these rules are too strict. If the UN does not ease up, thousands of
Iraqis will die. Hussein has made it look as if the UN, not himself, will be responsible for
those deaths. Saddam says "Our struggle against the embargo is a holy war" (Allman 62).
This bit of word play may be enough to keep Saddam out of trouble, but it shows that he
is not willing to compromise as he is too greedy. Perhaps he believes that he will be able
to sell the oil on the black market and make more money, which he will undoubtedly keep
Hussein himself is a troubled man. He is the paranoid ruler of a poor country, but
he is quite rich. He has so much money that our government even has no idea what he is
worth (Church 47). He has more than 50 palaces in Iraq, and about 20 of those are in
Baghdad (Roberts 55). His people are living in the gutter but he is sitting pretty. His
family is right with him. Nearly all of his immediate family is in power, but Saddam is not
afraid to kill one of them if they do something he does not agree with (Bhatia 15). His son
is just as bad, if not worse than Saddam. Uday Hussein is a violent man, who has engaged
in a gun fight during a family dinner, and he ended up killing a few women and injuring his
uncle. He holds lavish parties where he coerces young women into copulation (Roberts
52-54). Uday does not care about his actions because he is so powerful. He is number
two in command of Iraq (Church 46). Saddam's family is corrupt, and their power is
huge. They can do anything, and this scares many people.
One of Hussein's top men, Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel al-Majid, has
recently defected from Iraq. He is willing to speak out against Saddam. He was the head
of Iraqi weapons, and he feared that if he became too powerful, he would be killed
because he was not a member of Saddam's family. When Kamel escaped, he took $30
million with him (Sid-Ahmal 16-17). This says that even Saddam's most
powerful men are afraid. Pilots are given only enough fuel to complete their mission, as it
is feared that they will try and leave the country. If this is the case, and people want to
leave, this is a sign that Saddam may be losing support. His top officials are ready to
speak to international powers about the human rights violations taking place in Iraq, such
as when 400 prisoners were shot to create room in an Iraqi jail (Bhatia 15). Saddam is
proving that there is something wrong with the way he is running his country when
incidents like that occur.
There seem to be mixed feelings toward Hussein from his people. Some people
are "grateful for all he has done for them," which doesn't appear to be much except
providing jobs for a few people who could be influential over the area's in which they live.
All Iraqi religious leaders back Saddam. Even Devil-worshippers like him because he has
given them the same religious rights as Christians and Moslems (Allman 63-65). Not
every one is satisfied, though. A vote for president, the first since the Ba'ath party came
to power, turned out as a 99% landslide for Hussein. However, it was said that if you did
not vote for him, you would have your food rations stripped for a month and you would
be sent to live in the desert. Jowad, a Shiite Muslim said, "we vote for Saddam because
we have no choice" (Cooperman 49-50). If you cannot win an election fairly, perhaps you
have too much control over your country. At this rate it seems Saddam will be in power
forever. No one else can do anything.
What can be done? There is a president of a country who is only concerned with
making money. He does not seem to care about his people, he just wants to do anything
he can and get away with it. So why doesn't someone just bump him off? One of his men
just go up and fill the old guy full of lead? Why not a US sniper, or a bomb? Won't that
solve all the problems? Unfortunately, there is no proof that Saddam's predecessor will be
any less of a tyrant. Next in line is Uday, who we know is violent. The US government
doesn't really want to go after and kill Hussein because the fear is that Iraq will become a
new Haiti for us, and we have enough problems already (Kramer 45). There was hope
that after the Gulf War a coup attempt would successfully bring down Hussein, but that
didn't materialize. Our only hope now is that US sanctions will be able to force Saddam's
regime from power (this would be necessary for Iraq to fulfill the requirements of the
sanctions) (Hashim 14). He cannot lose power, but he cannot stay in it either. What will
happen? Who knows. This area is so extreme in belief and emotion that anything may
Hussein has misused his power to create a country that is stricken with famine and
disease. He rules the country, seeking to dominate everything and to strike fear into the
hearts of people all over the world. He hurts his own people and they seem to love him
for it. He manipulates his constituents into electing him, and portrays himself as a savior.
He is a menace and must be stopped.
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