First off - let's say that I appreciate everything you wrote and that you took the time to write what you did. I hear that you are very interested and caring about Iraq and the people there. I can only care about them as people that God created so I love them but have no experience with them that makes the association something that becomes as personal as it is with you. I appreciate that fact so please take that into consideration as you read the rest of what I will write here and you must appreciate that I do not have that "up close and personal" of an attachment to these people. I do understand to a limited degree (because I am not there and going through what some of them are going through) in recent years that things have been less that ideal by a wide margin, for the people of Iraq. I have read through all of the stuff that Richard has sent and all of the things that you sent - the history of Iraq with the "western" world, etc.
Let me make just a brief statement about the outline - it seems to me that the problems Iraq has had in the 1900's, as you outlined, didn't start with the United States intervention. I am not going to make comment about the history except to say that the problem didn't start with us (the U.S.) and probably, as I said in the letter to Richard a couple of months ago, we got involved because of the oil issue. This is a worldwide problem - anyone that has oil has a problem. Anyone that is as dependent as we in the U.S. are on that oil is involved. And, I don't know of any country that can go without having some form of heating and/or cooling and by that very fact they need fuel to make these "engines" go. That is a minute use of fuel but an extremely important one for some folks. I must say that I enjoy the creature comforts of heating and cooling and would hate to be without it - HOWEVER, I know I can do it because I was raised without either of these things to the degree that we have them now, "at the flip of a switch." I could go back to cooking on a wood stove and having the house heated by that same stove. Yes, it would be uncomfortable - but I could do it and so could a good part of the United States if push comes to shove. Like it? No - Exist? Yes. I watched/listened to a show this past week the described a "secret city" in Russia that produces plutonium and if they stop they freeze to death because it is so cold in Siberia where this city is. The conditions started out being wonderful for these people and over the years things have deteriorated until they are holding us (as I see it) hostage because if we don't help them they will go to the World at large to get the funds to get them on their feet financially. They are saying they will go to the highest bidder to sell information and materials and that includes the middle eastern countries - including Iraq - that have the funds to buy what the Russians (in Siberia) want to sell.
I must say at this juncture that it seems that this has become such a tangled mess that I wonder if anyone can straighten it out. Having said that, I must say that I cannot in good conscience, take the position that everything in Iraq in recent years is the problem of the United States government. True, we stick our necks way out every time someone has a problem - HOWEVER, we've been asked time and time again for help - be it when there is the terrible natural disasters of recent months in Honduras or WWII when Hitler and Hirohito took their wrath to the world at large. Isn't it strange that we - the people, are asked to help people in distress and I don't know of any other country in the world that is as sympathetic when we see people suffering - and then these same people (the U.S. average citizen) are criticized severely when we protect ourselves and/or our interests. (Oh, by the way, I have not ever heard Saddam compared to Hitler - I came by that on my own - I don't have to be "led" to think things, I just see history being played out and make up my own mind.)
By strange coincidence, over the holidays as I was trying to get a bit of rest one Sunday afternoon, I saw a complete history of Saddam Hussein - from birth to the present time. Most of the dialogue/history was provided by his own people. And, it coincided with all of the history that I was previously aware of as I have watched the news in recent years since before the Gulf War. You say that the comparison of Saddam to Hitler is not correct. Now, you said you have seen the comparison being made (presumably by TV, though you didn't say that) between Hitler and Saddam and that you take issue in this paragraph with that comparison. Since you had already written your letter, I watched in fascination as the "history" played out on the TV screen, as to how Saddam rose to power and it IS very like Hitler's history. When Hitler began to take power he was very much respected and people liked him because he brought Germany out of a deep depression. He seemed to have the interests of the people at heart - and I feel in the beginning he did, though I may be naive. If you look at it, Saddam did some good things for the people of Iraq - bringing many cities a lot of good things - plumbing, electricity, etc. - things that brought them into the modern age. With both men, power began to bring trouble from them to the people they govern(ed). Neither man blinked at the killing they ordered - I can't think of a time I saw Hitler shoot someone (WAIT! I'm not saying he didn't - I am saying I can't recall seeing actual instances of it) as I saw in the recent piece on Saddam - and Saddam authorized the media, in fact requested that they be there at a meeting where he singled out men in the audience that were part of his trusted advisers and someone told him that these men weren't doing what he (Saddam) wanted and were working counter to his wishes - these men were dragged out and killed. There were people with handkerchieves, wiping their faces after very little time of this man testifying and naming names because they didn't know if they would be next. Were these accusations right or rigged? I have no way of knowing but I know the United States wasn't behind him persecuting his own people in this instance. It certainly is a fine example of paranoia run completely amuck when you take the word of one man and kill many. During this documentary I saw Saddam going down a line with a gun and shooting people, one after another.
Now, you can say this isn't a mad man if you want - that "he is a dictator" and that's what dictators do. The definition of a dictator doesn't leave me with feelings of comfort by any stretch of the imagination but a mad man certainly makes me uncomfortable under any and all conditions. Saddam makes me very uncomfortable and made me very uncomfortable as I watched the documentary. When you watch actual footage - not something contrived by the U.S. media - where it seems you lay most of the blame for Iraq's recent problems - when you see his own people giving terrible historical testimony - that isn't contrived by the U.S. media - then you begin to wonder how one can make a case that Saddam isn't a mad man or to be able to draw a line and make him seem less of a threat by saying "he is a dictator." I accept your right to make this distinction - I can't follow you down that path of explanation and seemingly, excusing him for his actions because "A dictator would not listen to anyone and would not take the advice of anyone; but he would do anything to remain in power." So, this seems to imply that one remains in power at all cost and it is to be understood. I am sorry, I do see setting the oil wells on fire as being the act of a mad man - one that doesn't care for his own people and their welfare and certainly doesn't care for the people of the world at large. I am not willing to pay the price to help someone like that to remain in power and write it off as simply the act of a dictator. No, I am not surprised at a dictator killing any and everyone that crosses him - but I still call this dictator a mad man. Maybe at one time men could rule a country by intimidation and force that didn't include an all out killing of the people - but in my limited study of history it seems to play out that way. Perhaps we are hanging too much on the distinction between "dictator" and "mad man" - it seems to me there is a very fine line, if any, between the two.
This paragraph (#3) deeply distressed me because it seemed to say simply, "why are you upset that a dictator does this, it is what dictators do and we shouldn't be surprised by it." I guess I am just unable to accept mass killings (as Saddam did with one village where he ordered them all killed and Hitler's orders that we continue to cringe when we hear about in the acts of the killing of the Jews.) as just "what a dictator does." I simply can't accept that as an excuse for Saddam's behavior. I am still surprised at Hitler's actions and that was many years ago and also, something I lived through as a child of history/news - and so it naturally follows that the horrors that Saddam has perpetrated surprises me also because I can't understand a man that will do these horrendous deeds and get the media in to record it and show it to the world. I watched in horror as he - one by one - pulled the trigger and shot people that had their hands tied behind their backs and were in a kneeling position. If that's not the act of a mad man I can't think of a better description.
(#4) Again, we are blaming the media in the U.S. for trying to make the people here believe that we are under a threat of not being able to get planes and ships out, in case we were attacked. Goodness! We aren't all un(der)educated in the U.S. and we don't have to get it from the media. Perhaps an explanation that I live in Texas - an oil rich state - is in order. We get information that much of the rest of the world doesn't get but we don't get it from the much maligned media - we get it from our family members that work in these oil fields. Are they also a part of the "plot" to keep the citizens of this country uninformed - or misinformed? I don't think so. I know we have dug oil wells and capped them off - I know that they can be reopened should we get into trouble - but why wouldn't we do that for our own protection? Would any other country do anything differently? It can't be two ways - "The U.S. is importing less than ten percent of its energy needs from the Middle East." and "It is ironic to note that the 75 percent of the oil that Iraq is allowed to sell . . . is bought by U.S. oil companies." This paragraph seems to say that we don't need any oil from the Middle East. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what is going on - we are using oil from other countries and leaving ours sitting in the ground. Is that morally right? I have a problem with it but I also have a problem with having Saddam reigning over the world - to include what happens inside MY house. Where do we draw the line in the sand? So, if "'the stronger nation rules the world.' It has always been like that and it is still true today." Does this excuse anyone - the U.S. OR Iraq? I don't think so. But, you are right, it is true.
Let's skip #5 for a moment and go directly to #6 as it ties in here. No where did I imply that Iraq is Japan but I see a clear comparison - Japan invaded the U.S. territory of Hawaii - Iraq invaded Kuwait - now, are you trying to tell me that this was something that the U.S. Media "allowed" us to believe? I lived through V-J day - a very frightening time for young people of that time - a frightening time for a lot of people. How in the world could anyone deny that the Japanese did not have in mind to "conquer the world" when they did everything in their power to do just that - they struck at one of the strongest nations in the world and if they had known what we now know, they could have made it work and once they conquered us they would have had vast resources to move to take over other nations. Don't kid yourself, that was the name of the game and they fed their people into that "war machine" like fodder toward that end. The question of whether it was wrong to invade and take over Japan after the war was not really a question - it was making a point. Do you cripple an aggressive nation or do you move in and stop it entirely and then set up another system of government that isn't allowed to use its people to kill other people. An aside is that we made Japan the country it is today because we took care of everything that kept them safe from other countries. They couldn't have a military force - we were the protectors. Did some of our service men take advantage of that by having affairs that resulted in children - yes. When they left them there defenseless was that right - no. But you can't rate that with putting a gun to hundreds/thousands of heads and pulling the trigger. And, I don't want to hear about the atomic bomb being dropped. Yes, it was a horrible thing to have happen - but ask yourself how many other people would have had to die if the war had continued? The Japanese at that time were in an all-out, kill or be killed agenda. They had made an investment and were prepared to continue to the end. You say that the people of Iraq "naturally" followed their leader when they were attacked and got behind their flag. I don't think there is anything natural about what went on in Japan or in Iraq. I think it is a mind-set that says, "What will happen if I don't go along with it?"
In #1 you begin by saying "Saddam Hussein is not loved by the Iraqi people." In the historical document I saw thousands of people in a square "worshiping" him - I don't think that was a U.S. "media event." Saddam was smiling and waving to these people. I will say this - it could have been "in happier times" and perhaps these same people have become disenchanted with him. That would also seem like a "natural" thing that would follow. They think it was a mistake to have invaded Kuwait - so, what did they do to get rid of Saddam after that? Nothing. He remains in power because the people let him remain in power. Okay, I can hear the question: "What can they do, they are powerless." That's what a lot of people would have said in the past and yet this type of leader has been overthrown countless times down through history - the people of Iraq are allowing one man to cause them countless problems and killings of family members. This somehow gets very muddled in my mind and with good reason. Yes, they fear him, I can understand that. But knowing what I know of the terrorist tactics that these people know how to implement - please don't ask me to believe that these people couldn't find a way to get rid of this guy. I am NOT for killing people - but I am for stopping the killing and how many people does he have to kill before he is stopped? HOWEVER, I do NOT feel it is the duty of the U.S. government to go in and take care of it for the people of Iraq. He is a monster - and one could make a case that he is a world monster - but more appropriately, he is the monster of Iraq - they loved him in the beginning and allowed him to grow - now they have a responsibility to depose him. Fun? No. Easy? No. But they know how to do it and I am totally against the U.S. going in and doing their dirty work for them.
You say that Iraq can't make a tank - they don't need a tank to lob a missile or a bomb - be it atomic, germ or chemical in type. It takes much less metal to create the latter than the former so I don't see the connection. That they don't manufacture anything - don't have the resources to do it, isn't a surprise to anyone. But that doesn't make them less of a risk. You also say that the people on the inspection team are "spying" - what are they "spying" for/about? Are you suggestion espionage here? Why would that be necessary?
Running throughout this whole letter of response is the theme that the U.S. government and the U.S. media is the problem - some how we manipulated everything. They (we) are the sole perpetrators of Iraq's problems. I hear no one else mentioned as a possible "culprit." How did we manipulate everything that Saddam has done? How did we implement the invasion of Kuwait? How were we involved in the very early 1900's? I am certainly NOT a fan of the media - of the U.S. or any other country - but to lay the blame at the feet of the media for every thing, allows everyone else to "take a powder" and take no responsibility for what is happening/has happened. That's too easy. I never thought I would have to defend the media because they just aren't my cup of tea - I complain at least once a week and more often than not - more than that. However, this is too vast to drop it at the feet of the U.S. media and allow everyone else to be blameless and amounts to sticking one's head in the sand. The problem with that stance is that someone is going to get shot in the behind and - dead is dead, no matter how it happens. What this paragraph says is that I am NOT a fan of the media - far from it. I just think everything can't be blamed on the U.S. government and the U.S. media as this letter suggests.
If I sound a bit (?) "uneasy" with your answers, I have gotten my point across. I am uneasy with the answers. We can't/shouldn't go into a country and run it as we ran Japan after the war if it isn't our country that has been invaded - in the case of Iraq it would have been impossible to set up a government that is "world friendly" because Saddam wouldn't have allowed it. Saddam is on a crash course - he is going to move forward with his agenda or die trying. That doesn't come from the media - I have never HEARD/SAW that - just from his history I believe that. Dictator or mad man - he is a time bomb and the U.S. media didn't create that nor did the U.S. government and lest we forget it - WE are the U.S. government.
Thank you for your very kind interpretation of how you see this situation in Iraq and thank you for taking the time to state your beliefs. You've been there so you undoubtedly know the situation as nothing I could understand from any first hand position. But I take issue with the writing it off simply as something the United States, et al has perpetrated and that Saddam is just a dictator doing what a dictator does and when someone moves against him that it is natural for the people of his country to follow him and the flag. I wish I could agree - I just can't swallow all of that. I do understand the power of the media - but I have lived long enough to know that the truth will out and everyone will get their share of the blame as time wears on. I wish it were as simple as you portray it - I just don't think it is simple. I think it is vastly complex with enough guilt for everyone to get a piece of the pie.
Again, thank you for your very thoughtful reply.
January 19, 1999