The Survival of Saddam
join the discussion: What are your views on Saddam Hussein, the master survivor?  What should be the U.S.'s and world community's policy on Saddam and Iraq?
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Dear FRONTLINE,

A stunning piece of work.

It becomes more and more evident that this type of reporting is a vital means of understanding our responsibilites as citizens to better manager our elected officials and policy makers in a way that considers the long term outcomes of our actions.

This piece should be combined with the prior Frontline pieces on the Ritter UNSCOM scandal, and the Gulf War and played back-to-back with the news network propoganda of the period. Sure, Sadam is a tyrant and overall jerk. But I really wonder how many Americans, especially those who think we should "finish the job" were aware of how involved we were in putting him where he is, and enabling the tyranny.

It is also funny how closely the "Iraq" script follows other bungled manipulations like the Panama/Noriega affair, Bay of Pigs, and the Shah of Iran. It's time to wake up, educate ourselves and take our elected officials to task!

Paradigas Shitah
Fresno, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Short term solutions are almost always motivated by instant gratification i.e. money. Mr.Hussein has stayed in power because the U.S. continues to initiate short term solutions as they relate to the export of oil.

Specifically, Iraqi oil which is cheaper than U.S. oil. We are simply attempting, very poorly by the way, to stifle the competition.

We are dealing with a country wherein there is no separation of church and state, I'd liken any attempt to control that country with trying to stay on top of a bucking bronco! What do you do with a wild animal? You either kill it outright we had a chance to do that and we blew itor kill it with kindness. What's the old saying? You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?

I'm thinking we should put our money where our mouths are & start feeding the Iraqi citizens again. Enough with this vascillating! If you want to act as a "parent" to a backward nation, then act as any good parent should . . . with kindness & a firm commitment and hand, as the case may be.

And yes, this will take time. I can almost hear those goofy congressmen/lobbyists/senators/representatives, etc. groaning in Washington all the way here in Chicago. Which brings me to my original point. It's called a long-term solution folks.

So put your hands back in your own pockets, you so-called "Washington insiders" & start acting like honorable and quite possibly intelligent men & women. And maybe, just maybe, we'll regain the trust of the Iraqi people.

Here's another saying for you. "You can take the cat out of the alley but you can't take the alley out of the cat.

Let's say we regained the aforementioned trust. I'm positive, that Mr. Hussein would show himself for who and what he truly is Muslim my eye! to his own people and they'll put him of business once and for all! Like they tried to do before.

Then, instead of being the greedy jerks we've been, cut those folks a deal regarding the oil. Invite them to actually participate in the global community. You watch how fast they turn that "cat" back out into the proverbial alley.

Robin Sluzas
chicago, il

Dear FRONTLINE,

When will we learn? Our foreign policies show our ignorance. The US makes the assumption that we are more intelligent and civilized than other countries. We think we know what is right for the people of these nations, and try to set up political leaders only to stab them in the back when we think our national interests are in jeopardy.

Just think of what innovations for alternative energy sources have been suppressed because our politicians pockets are lined with money from the oil industry. Lets look at the real problem, not the symptoms.

Tammy Daugherty

Dear FRONTLINE,

No discussion concerning the survival of Saddam Hussein without mentioning the role of former General Colin Powell's poor advice to President Bush and Bush's ill-advised decision to end the original Gulf War on February 28, 1991--before the surviving core of the defeated Iraqi army mainly two divisions of the Republican Guard with most of their equipment could be cut off and destroyed, or captured and disarmed.

Bush made his decision at the forceful behest of General Colin Powell, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Powell reportedly told Bush and the rest of the White House "High Command" that the remaining Iraqi army was totally defeated and in full retreat and that further attack would be a slaughter, both "UN-AMERICAN and UN-CHIVALROUS".

General Norman Schwarzkopf and his generals were collectively against the premature cease-fire, estimating one to three days more would be needed to cut off and finally trap the Republican Guard survivors keep in mind we're not talking about going to Baghdad, but only blocking the road from Basra to Baghdad, which the U.S. 24th Mechanized Division and 101st Airborne were poised to do. But unfortunately, Schwarzkopt did not push this view to Bush, to whom he reported directly, a serious error of omission. No more Iraqis needed to have been killed. They had only to hoist a white flag or simply abandon their vehicles and equipment, and walk away. Powell knew all of this.

The Brits were furious about the cease-fire. So were teh Saudis, Qataris and other Arab Gulf countries. In fact, Newsweek reported British Gulf commander Gen. Sir Peter de la Billiere went "ballistic" and British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd--who happened to be in Washington--jumped Bush about it immediately, unfortunately to no avail. Had the Guard and it's equipment been finally captured or destroyed, the Shiite rebellion in the South would probably have succeeded. Combined with the simultaneous Kurdish insurrection in the north, it is highly likely that Saddam would have chosen to take a hike and would not be a problem today. Had that happened, thousands of civilian lives would have been spared.

Saddam's survival has led to the continuation of UN sanctions on Iraq. These have grievously persecuted a population that is powerless to overthrow a tyrant that the U.S. allowed to stay in power. Pre-Gulf War, this population greatly admired America and Americans. You can imagine their opinions today.

Dennis Schiely
Houston, Texas

Dear FRONTLINE,

I learned a lot from this program. The one thing that cought my attention more than anything else was the botched coup attempt in 1996 when Bill Clinton backed out at the last minute and refused to provide air support. De javu! How comparable is this whole thing with Cuba and the Bay of Pigs? I'm sure if you tried you could find a lot of similarities regarding our relationships with Iraq and Cuba. I think we should look at the way we handled Cuba and try to learn from all the mistakes we made.

Assassinations are not the answer, but supporting a rebellion by the Iraqi people could be. Unfortunately, we may have lost any chance of that. Bush really blew it. Not neccessarily because he didn't march into Bagdad during the Persian Gulf, but because when the people rose up and tried to overthrow Saddam we should have been there to help them. Because we didn't and we seem to have turned our backs on them many times since, why would they trust us? I wouldn't if I were them.

As far as my feelings on Saddam I guess I respect him the same way I respect Castro. He has stood up to the most powerful and influential country in the world and has survived where so many others have not.

Before watching your program I didn't know his people really didn't want him as their leader, now I do. One person on the program said something very interesting. He said, between the U.S., Israel and other Arab countries, they couldn't agree on a vision for the future of Iraq and as a result the Iraqi people all turned to Saddam as their second choice. I think an answer lies in this.

Work together with Iraq's neighbors and the Iraqi people to resolve this, but the actual future of this county relies totally on the Iraqi people. When the U.S. revolted against Great Britain we determined our own fate with no unwanted outside influence. We can help them, but it is up to them.

steve larter
palo alto, california

Dear FRONTLINE,

Your above caption seems to stress the question that I wished to raise when I went to your web site.

The program and the above caption seems to say that the United states has a right to determine the leadership of a sovereign state that is governed by a nationalist. A nationalist that has the interest of his nation first before any other. It is interesting to see, that even pbs would embrace propaganda when there is a perceived threat to the state by a foreign and or nationalist leader.

While I may grant you the central assertion of your program that Saddam is evil, there is however one underlying theme that you managed to bring out about the Iraqi president. He is bent on making Iraq a world power to rival other world powers. He is bent on using Iraqi oil wealth to improve Iraqi infrastructure, both human and otherwise, and to acquire sophisticated weapons that are the hallmarks of all powerful states. This seems to be the central threat that he posses. A none white, non Northern hemispheric state daring to be a world power and to control its destiny through the control of its natural resource.

This is the crime for which Iraq is being punished and for which Saddam would inevitably pay the ultimate price. If he or any one doubts that he would pay the ultimate price, they may want to read up on Patrice Lumumbar of the Congo or Jacobo Abenze of Guatemala!!!

Okri EDWARD
cliffside pk, nj

Dear FRONTLINE,

As usual, Frontline did a great job. I learned a lot about Saddam that I previously was unaware of, for instance his idolization and identity with Stalin.

My husband was in Desert Storm and I have never understood why we pulled out when we did. I've read and heard the arguments, but Saddam is a very dangerous man and I feel that we should have finished the job in whatever way was appropriate. The world is not a safe place with the likes of him hoarding chemical warfare.

It was appalling how he purged his friends and countrymen from his worldobviously because he was paranoid by having them killed.

This man knows no limits when it comes to taking other's lives. Whether it's by chemical warfare or by assasination. A man who has no conscious is a very dangerous person.

I pray God protects the world from this madman.

Terry Bitzel
Manitou Springs, CO

Dear FRONTLINE,

Your program did not properly address a very important issue, the effect of economic sanctions on the people of Iraq.

Sanctions are killing thousands of people of Iraq and reducing qulaity of life to millions of people with no clear success of the policy of sanctions on the political front!

Your program should have addressed this vital part of Iraqi politics as it is far important than the subject of survirval of a politician or a president of a country.

You need to show a program on this issue of sanctions and its effects on the popultion of Iraq.

Aziz Khudairi
Houston, TX

Dear FRONTLINE,

The program was objective. It did not portray Saddam as a demon, but rather as an autocrat.

Many leaders would do exactly what he did given the back stabbing and betrayals. Excellent.

samira zara



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