Saddam, A Perfectly Reasaonable Statesman?
Jude Wanniski
November 19, 1997


Memo To: Norman Smith
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Saint Saddam

In your note this morning, remonstrating with me for defending Saddam, you suggest my contrariness would go down easier with you if I did not present him as "a perfectly reasonable statesman." First of all, I do not believe Saddam is a demon, nutcake or madman. He does have a narrow view of the world, which we have to take into account in dealing with him. It has been in the process of demonizing Saddam, in order to cast our foreign policy in a way that could justify starving the people of Iraq in hopes they would rise up and pull him down, that our political establishment drew the caricature of him that you carry in your mind. I don't think of heads of state as good guys or bad guys. They are the products of their times, their cultures, and their people's needs and concerns. To me, evil is ignorance. Hitler and Stalin were greatly evil in the enormous ignorance of their attitudes and behavior. It was also evil of our forefathers to enslave the black man on the grounds that he was a subspecies of the white man. Holocausts take different forms throughout history, always based on evil.

The Prince of Darkness blinds us to reality in order to make us sin. When we refuse to listen to an enemy's arguments and opinions, by plugging our ears or jamming his radio waves, we are acting in the spirit of that Prince. In this case, it is our government and our Establishment that is plugging its ears, fearful that the American people will discover the evil we have done in the last seven years by conducting a cynical foreign policy against Iraq. Does it matter to you that several hundred thousand Iraqi children have died of disease and malnutrition because Iraq can't buy the calories to feed them? I ask the question seriously, Norman, because I'm shocked to find so many people who are asked that question say it does not bother them in the least. When Louis Farrakhan compared the suffering of the children of Iraq to the Holocaust, he was called anti-Semitic. When Madeleine Albright, then UN Ambassador, was asked if it was worth the lives of 500,000 children to pull down Saddam, she said it was. What else could she say, confronted with the UN report?

If you agree with my definition of evil, do you not agree that our government is acting in the spirit of the Prince of Darkness, by refusing to allow our U.N. Ambassador, Bill Richardson, to talk to his Iraqi counterpart? Is it not evil for us to kill any request that Iraq be allowed to take the stand in its own defense at the Security Council before we issue the death penalty and carry out its execution? Do you think it is possible for the United States to act in evil ways? Or do we get a free pass? Here is The Wall Street Journal this morning, my alma mater, making the arguments to its readers, the ruling elite, that the reason we are getting no support from our old allies in the coalition is that they are afraid of Saddam. If we could only ask them by secret ballot, they would all agree we should execute Saddam and all his progeny. It never seems to occur to those who make this argument that the same people who they say are afraid of Saddam now that he is defeated, crippled and broke were perfectly willing to join us in coalition when we knew he had a million men under arms, and we suspected he had weapons of mass destruction at his immediate disposal.

This is evil sophistry, a shadow of darkness having fallen over our political Establishment, which now believes its own propaganda. This justifies our acting alone, does it not, for we can tell ourselves that the rest of the world, no matter what it says about us openly and at the UN, really wants us to kill this man as we have been killing the Iraqi people? Don't you think Hitler was able to persuade the people of Germany through propaganda that the rest of the world would secretly be happy to be rid of the Jews once and for all? Wasn't Stalin able to persuade the people of the USSR that the blood he was forced to spill was in order to rid the world of the evil capitalists? We defeated these twin evils and now we are at the top of the world, triumphant, and all I see, Norman, are signs that we can justify our behavior not on any international rule of law or guiding principles of common law, but by the fact that we have the means to get what we want, when we want it. The WSJournal this morning says again that we should have broken our word to the UN and the Arab League in 1991 and marched all the way to Baghdad. The author of the same editorial says history shows that Eisenhower should have marched to Berlin (and then to Moscow?) instead of halting at the Elbe. We should have marched to Beijing instead of halting at the 38th parallel in the Korean war.

Civilized behavior to me suggests the Golden Rule, that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. When civilization breaks down in wartime, all is fair. But when we become triumphant in peacetime, the Golden Rule should apply. That means we must be prepared to hear the petitions of those who we like the least. It is easy to hear the petitions of those we love. On a scale of one to a hundred, with your wife being number one, I have no doubt that Saddam is number one hundred. As an individual, you can hope for the untimely death of Saddam and so might I, but as a nation, we must bind ourselves to standards of behavior that will be recognized as good, not evil, by the other people of the world.

It has been my experience throughout my 61 years of life that political people are often sanctified for insufficient reason, and are then found by history to have been evil, while others are demonized, and found after their executions to have been innocent. It is a contrarian role I play, and I admit I am not always happy with those I choose to defend, but what has made us the greatest country in the history of the world is our willingness to submerge our individual passions and hatreds to a transparent system of justice, where the least of us is given his day in court, with a lawyer if need be, paid by the taxpayers.