Time to Take Saddam Hussein Seriously

   Before the beginning of the Gulf War in 1991, Saddam Hussein said it would be "the mother of all battles."  After the quick Allied victory, the phrase "mother of all ..." became the stock phrase of comedians and political pundits.

   The 9/11 Commission Report said that one of the causes of the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon was that the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center was not taken as a serious warning.  Even though six people were killed and $100 million worth of damage was done to the Trade Center, the attackers were ridiculed because one of them returned to the truck rental agency to reclaim his deposit for bomb truck, alleging that it had been stolen.  The police had identified the truck from the transmission number and were waiting to arrest the renter when he arrived to pick up his money.

   During the period of sanctions which followed the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein said that the United States was the greatest threat to Iraq.  At the time, his statement seemed like puffing.  Saddam Hussein's cynical strategy during the first Gulf War had been to sacrifice 300,000 of his own people to create the illusion that Iraq was an equal to the United States.  The United States was only too willing to oblige. 

   But, as it turns out, Saddam Hussein was more accurate in his statements than the George Bush has been in his.  The United States has been the greatest threat to Iraq, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Iraqis, through supporting Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War, in the 1991 Gulf War and the sanctions that followed, and now, in the Civil War that has been unleashed by the incompetent invasion, if not deliberate destruction, of Iraq.

   Saddam Hussein said that he had no weapons of mass destruction.  He didn't. 

    The United States has lost fifty helicopters in almost four years of war, half by enemy fire.  Three have been downed in the past three weeks. 

    When Saddam Hussein said that the 1991 Gulf War was going to be the mother of all battles, maybe he was taking a longer range view than the American leadership, press and public.  After all, the 1991 Gulf War was ended by a cease fire, not a peace treaty.  All George W. Bush did was resume hostilities.  Maybe it is time to take Saddam Hussein seriously, now that he is dead, and accept that the United States in engaged in the Mother of All Battles and accordingly to mobilize the entire nation for war.

   George Bush is trying to fight the Mother of All Battles on the cheap with a lot of expensive mercenaries substituting for American troops.  In 2004, the four Americans who were killed in Fallujah, whose bodies were burned and strung up on a bridge were not American soldiers, but employees of Blackwater, war profiteers.  Dozens of American Marines lost their lives in the retributive attack on Fallujah that followed.

   There is a disconnect between the way the war in Iraq is being fought and the putative stakes.  If it is as important to win the war as George Bush claims, then the whole nation needs to be involved in securing the victory.  The way the war is currently being fought makes the claims of its importance seem spurious. 

      Maybe the time has come to take Saddam Hussein seriously.

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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf