FRONTLINE's "The Survival of Saddam" presents an intimate portrait of
Saddam Hussein's life and the secrets behind his leadership. The film examines
Saddam's uncanny ability to outmaneuver his enemies, exploit their weaknesses
and, against all odds, to remain in power.
Producer Greg Barker spent months gaining special access to research
and film in Iraq--obtaining rare photographs of Saddam, secret internal
documents, seldom-seen archival and tv footage, and traveling to
northern Iraq to tell the story of the Kurds' long struggle with
the Iraqi government.
The result is an in-depth look at Saddam's career and the secrets behind
his survival--from his days as a young hit man in the Ba'ath Party, to his rise
to power with CIA help--from his successful exploitation of superpower rivalry in the 1970s,
to his miscalculations in invading Kuwait 20 years later--from CIA-backed coup
attempts and internal rebellions against him throughout the 1990s, to his
successful stand-off not long ago with UN weapons inspectors.
Featuring an in-depth interview with biographer Said K. Aburish, as
well as interviews with Iraqi opposition leaders, CIA officers, U.S.
Middle East diplomats, and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, this
report reveals how, like many dictators, Saddam's rise to leadership can be
attributed to a unique mixture of intelligence and brutality--he eliminated
every potential rival, including in some cases, his closest allies. The film
also details Saddam's tactical brilliance inside Iraq in dividing the
opposition and keeping a grip on the population through an Orwellian
However, the leader who began his career with dreams of leading the Arab
world and transforming Iraq into a modern nation, now is just trying to
survive. With the signing of the 1998 Iraqi Liberation Act, overthrowing Saddam
Hussein is now official U.S. policy. But, if history is any guide, it will not
be an easy task.
"Saddam Hussein lives on the contradictions of his enemies," says Ahmad
Chalabi, a leader of the Iraqi National Congress, the U.S.-backed Iraqi
opposition group. "The neighbors of Iraq, and the U.S., each have a vision of
how Iraq should be ruled, and they are contradictory visions. Saddam ends up,
by default, being everybody's second choice, and that has been the major brunt
of our struggle."
secrets of his life and leadership ·
photo album ·
the kurds' story
join the discussion ·
tapes & transcripts ·
Some Photographs Copyright FRONTLINE/Iraqi News Agency
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