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December 15, 2003
The Education of Saddam Hussein

Jim Hoagland has a good column in today's Washington Post about Saddam Hussein, including some of his own experiences with the former tyrant as interesting background to recent events. Hoagland interviewed him in 1975, prior to him grabbing all power in Iraq:

The dictator flashed his tailored cuffs and diamond-encrusted jewelry at me in an encounter in 1975 as he described in minute detail his commitment to Arab socialism. He went on to deny that the atrocities I had seen in Kurdistan a few weeks earlier could have happened. When I reported both atrocities and atmospherics, Hussein sent word that he was outraged -- that I had mentioned the cuff links.

Vanity and megalomania always constituted a large part of Saddam Hussein, it seems, which makes his apprehension in a rathole all the more compelling. Hoagland gleefully wonders whether those cufflinks were pawned to finance his flight, but with $750,000 in US currency on him, I doubt that he needed to worry about the cufflinks. However, Hoagland does describe one heartwarming scene which occurred near the end of Saddam's meeting yesterday with members of the Iraqi Governing Council:

"Why didn't you fight?" one Governing Council member asked Hussein as their meeting ended. Hussein gestured toward the U.S. soldiers guarding him and asked his own question: "Would you fight them?"

Had Saddam made that calculation in 1990, or even as recent as February or March of this year, he likely would not have been forced to live out of a rathole for the past several months. (via Instapundit)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 15, 2003 6:09 AM

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