I watched a very good program on Discovery last night about Saddam Hussein, his rise to power, and his capture. It was illuminating, not least because I think I now understand where some of the loyalties that continue to be shown to him by some Iraqis comes from.
For one thing, at the height of his power Saddam ruled with an iron fist wrapped inside a velvet glove. He built Iraq’s first public school system, the first roads, free hospitals, homes, power plants, and so much more, creating a complete welfare state where everyone was personally dependent on him as an individual. And the price for this was living with the abductions, disappearances, tortures, and capriciousness of a police state run by one ruthless, homocidal man.
As we know, Saddam’s picture was everywhere, and it literally was. People lived their whole lives (he was in power so long) with his image present every moment. His was a constant presence, a constant reminder. People lived and die at his whim and at the whim of his closest underlings. Yet it was run like a family business, and like a family business, the closer your relation to him, the better off you were. Those who live near Tikrit in the Sunni Triangle were the closest of all. They retained the most loyalty because they lost the most with the fall of Saddam’s regime.
If you saw the documentary, you would understand the absolute evil of his regime. He would kill a man for the slightest failure or even just to intimidate others. He and his sons took women at their whim, letting some live, killing others if they balked.
The world is a better place, the Middle East is safer, and Iraq is more peaceful without him.