Hussein's pursuit of banned weapons be halted, have ranged widely across the country.
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But before this became the international community's only goal, Mr. Bush was also attacking Mr. Hussein as a murdering tyrant. It was this accusation that led the Iraqi leader to virtually empty his prisons on Oct. In the end, if an American-led invasion ousts Mr.
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Hussein, and especially if an attack is launched without convincing proof that Iraq is still harboring forbidden arms, history may judge that the stronger case was the one that needed no inspectors to confirm: that Saddam Hussein, in his 23 years in power, plunged this country into a bloodbath of medieval proportions, and exported some of that terror to his neighbors. Reporters who were swept along with tens of thousands of near-hysterical Iraqis through Abu Ghraib's high steel gates were there because Mr. Hussein, stung by Mr.
Bush's condemnation, had declared an amnesty for tens of thousands of prisoners, including many who had served long sentences for political crimes. Afterward, it emerged that little of long-term significance had changed that day.
SHEIKY BREAKY HEART!
Within a month, Iraqis began to speak of wide-scale re-arrests, and officials were whispering that Abu Ghraib, which had held at least 20, prisoners, was filling up again. Like other dictators who wrote bloody chapters in 20th-century history, Mr. Hussein was primed for violence by early childhood.
Born into the murderous clan culture of a village that lived off piracy on the Tigris River, he was harshly beaten by a brutal stepfather. In , at age 22, he made his start in politics as one of the gunmen who botched an attempt to assassinate Iraq's first military ruler, Abdel Karim Kassem. Since then, Mr. Hussein's has been a tale of terror that scholars have compared to that of Stalin, whom the Iraqi leader is said to revere, even if his own brutalities have played out on a small scale.
Stalin killed 20 million of his own people, historians have concluded. Even on a proportional basis, his crimes far surpass Mr. Hussein's, but figures of a million dead Iraqis, in war and through terror, may not be far from the mark, in a country of 22 million people. Where the comparison seems closest is in the regime's mercilessly sadistic character.
Iraq has its gulag of prisons, dungeons and torture chambers -- some of them acknowledged, like Abu Ghraib, and as many more disguised as hotels, sports centers and other innocent-sounding places. It has its overlapping secret-police agencies, and its culture of betrayal, with family members denouncing each other, and offices and factories becoming hives of perfidy. Hussein even uses Stalinist maxims, including what an Iraqi defector identified as one of the dictator's favorites: ''If there is a person, then there is a problem.
If there is no person, then there is no problem. There are rituals to make the end as terrible as possible, not only for the victims but for those who survive. After seizing power in July , Mr. Hussein handed weapons to surviving members of the ruling elite, then joined them in personally executing 22 comrades who had dared to oppose his ascent. The terror is self-compounding, with the state's power reinforced by stories that relatives of the victims pale to tell -- of fingernail-extracting, eye-gouging, genital-shocking and bucket-drowning. Secret police rape prisoners' wives and daughters to force confessions and denunciations.
Saddam's demon seed
There are assassinations, in Iraq and abroad, and, ultimately, the gallows, the firing squads and the pistol shots to the head. DOING the arithmetic is an imprecise venture. The largest number of deaths attributable to Mr. Hussein's regime resulted from the war between Iraq and Iran between and , which was launched by Mr. Iraq says its own toll was ,, and Iran's reckoning ranges upward of , Fortunately, I have a few full-proof conversation topics that will stop any potential small talk in its tracks. You can then spin off to discuss how the killer was actually named by O.
Yeah, the guy who wrote Gift Of The Magi! Top that off with a personal favorites list of either uncaptured serial killers or historical accounts of ritual murder. I guarantee Archibald Weatherspoon will drift off to another table to discuss his racket technique for squash.
Serial Killers: Saddam Hussein on Apple Books
Get real. This is a good topic, but could prove to be interesting enough to encourage conversation by even the most tepid of Remonbargingtons or Vanderscones. This is exactly the opposite of what you want, so you gotta chose someone real vial. Someone like, say, Saddam Hussein. What a humble choice of meal, you might note, for someone so notorious and formerly powerful. It was apparently his favorite, so maybe this was one last chance to connect with his undignified childhood among shepherds.
His absolute favorite was Doritos , and according to his American prison guards, he could finish a family-size bag in ten minutes! Those guards, surprisingly, found themselves so enamored with the former dictator that they cried during his execution. They would describe him as a gentle, grandfatherly figure they had grown fond of during lonely days in the desert jail.
If anyone is still around, ask them with a straight face how much of their wealth is in oil shares.
Pretend to be interested—no reason to be rude.