Foreign Affairs - Saddam's Delusions: The View From the Inside - Kevin Woods, James Lacey, and Williamson Murray: "Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as 'Chemical Ali' for his use of chemical weapons on Kurdish civilians in 1987, was convinced Iraq no longer possessed WMD but claims that many within Iraq's ruling circle never stopped believing that the weapons still existed. Even at the highest echelons of the regime, when it came to WMD there was always some element of doubt about the truth. According to Chemical Ali, Saddam was asked about the weapons during a meeting with members of the Revolutionary Command Council. He replied that Iraq did not have WMD but flatly rejected a suggestion that the regime remove all doubts to the contrary, going on to explain that such a declaration might encourage the Israelis to attack. [See Footnote #1 below]"

Footnote #1 reads:

"For many months after the fall of Baghdad, a number of senior Iraqi officials in coalition custody continued to believe it possible that Iraq still possessed a WMD capability hidden away somewhere (although they adamantly insisted that they had no direct knowledge of WMD programs). Coalition interviewers discovered that this belief was based on the fact that Iraq had possessed and used WMD in the past and might need them again; on the plausibility of secret, compartmentalized WMD programs existing given how the Iraqi regime worked; and on the fact that so many Western governments believed such programs existed."


"Ironically, it now appears that some of the actions resulting from Saddam's new policy of cooperation actually helped solidify the coalition's case for war. Over the years, Western intelligence services had obtained many internal Iraqi communications, among them a 1996 memorandum from the director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service directing all subordinates to "insure that there is no equipment, materials, research, studies, or books related to manufacturing of the prohibited weapons (chemical, biological, nuclear, and missiles) in your site." And when UN inspectors went to these research and storage locations, they inevitably discovered lingering evidence of WMD-related programs.

In 2002, therefore, when the United States intercepted a message between two Iraqi Republican Guard Corps commanders discussing the removal of the words "nerve agents" from "the wireless instructions," or learned of instructions to "search the area surrounding the headquarters camp and [the unit] for any chemical agents, make sure the area is free of chemical containers, and write a report on it," U.S. analysts viewed this information through the prism of a decade of prior deceit. They had no way of knowing that this time the information reflected the regime's attempt to ensure it was in compliance with UN resolutions.

What was meant to prevent suspicion thus ended up heightening it. The tidbit about removing the term "nerve agents" from radio instructions was prominently cited as an example of Iraqi bad faith by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in his February 5, 2003, statement to the UN."

"One senior Iraqi official alleged that the commission's leaders were so fearful of Saddam that when he ordered them to initiate weapons programs that they knew Iraq could not develop, they told him they could accomplish the projects with ease. Later, when Saddam asked for updates on the nonexistent projects, they simply faked plans and designs to show progress."

Why would they fear giving him good news? How about this:

"A 1982 incident vividly illustrated the danger of telling Saddam what he did not want to hear. At one low point during the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam asked his ministers for candid advice. With some temerity, the minister of health, Riyadh Ibrahim, suggested that Saddam temporarily step down and resume the presidency after peace was established. Saddam had him carted away immediately. The next day, pieces of the minister's chopped-up body were delivered to his wife. According to Abd al-Tawab Mullah Huwaysh, the head of the Military Industrial Commission and a relative of the murdered minister, "This powerfully concentrated the attention of the other ministers, who were unanimous in their insistence that Saddam remain in power."

The man has a gift for understatement.

"As far as can be determined from the interviews and records reviewed so far, there was no national plan to embark on a guerrilla war in the event of a military defeat. Nor did the regime appear to cobble together such a plan as its world crumbled around it. Buoyed by his earlier conviction that the Americans would never dare enter Baghdad, Saddam hoped to the very last minute that he could stay in power. And his military and civilian bureaucrats went through their daily routines until the very end."

Interesting. So the insurgency was an organic entity. Methinks the average talkinghead analyst gave Saddam too much credit for creating it.

In the end, totalitarian regimes all become the same. They drown in paranoia and hyperbollic praise of the leader who is infallible, egomanical and eventually, unstable. Corruption is a natural byproduct which only serves to further distort the regime's hold (or percieved hold) on the country. I suspect the DPRK looks very much the same from the inside. I'm amazed that regime has lasted as long as it has. Starvation is no accident and is used as a very effective means of control of the populace. Likewise, those most likely to foment a coup fear the uncertainty of toppling the regime more than anything. It would be reasonnable to be happy that your family is being fed and as long as you keep your mouth shut and go along, you'll do far better than most. Eventually, a nudge will come either from us or from South Korea. That nudge may be enough to collapse the house of cards. Here's hoping.


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