Thursday, May 02, 2002

The Secrets of Kuwait's Abusive Step-Father

Mark Bowden has an excellent profile of Saddam Hussein in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly. He recounts some stories that have been told many times before - such as the day when Hussein seized power in Iraq and had dozens of senior government officials dragged out of the auditorium where he was speaking. He also fills in a lot of the strange details of the dictator's paranoid private life. Most interestingly, though, he tracks Hussein's public persona from earnest young reformer and social democrat to brutal tribal autocrat. Bowden suggests that what many observers viewed as a shocking change was in fact a carefully calculated pose maintained by Hussein, followed by a dropping of the pretense once he had consolidated his power. Who knew that Hussein once received an award from UNESCO for his aggressive funding of rural literacy training?

Bowden also had an interesting prediction for interviewer Scott Cannon in yesterday's Kansas City Star:

Cannon: Having written a recent article for Atlantic Monthly on the daily life of Saddam Hussein, do you think the U.S. military could easily depose him?

Bowden: It could happen in a matter of days. The United States military force is so overpowering that Iraq wouldn't be able to put up any serious resistance. The sophistication of American weapons and tactics would cut through any Iraqi resistance with hardly a problem. There is no question about who'd come out on top. You'd encounter fighting, I suppose, but nothing that would be a serious threat. We're talking about something that's over almost before it starts.

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