The U.S. visit of Iranian theocrat-despot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has prompted some strange statements from critics of the war in Iraq. Specifically, it is confusing to hear that George W. Bush wrongly focused on removing Iraq’s Saddam Hussein when, say the critics, Iran’s Ahmadinejad is the bigger problem. As proof of the dangers of Ahmadinejad, these critics cite not only the Iranian dictator’s support of terror, pursuit of the bomb, and general fanaticism—all of which Saddam was likewise guilty—but, most notably, his raging anti-Semitism and rejection of the nation of Israel.
Well, if you fear Ahmadinejad because of his views on Jews, then there’s no reason why you wouldn’t have feared Saddam just as much. In both word and deed, Saddam was worse than Ahmadinejad. Saddam walked the walk in his anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel. Long before Ahmadinejad was denying the Holocaust, Saddam was calling for a new one, and in fact was firing up the gas chamber.
This inherent hatred of Israel was part of Saddam’s being. Saddam was bred a genocidal racist. When the budding despot was an adolescent, the uncle who served as his role model and surrogate father published a pamphlet titled, “Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Persians, Jews, and Flies.” Saddam lived that credo. Later, as a dictator in the late 1990s, he ramped up the country’s printing presses and reissued his uncle’s pamphlet. It was circulated in untold numbers throughout the nation.
It is no exaggeration to say that Saddam’s hatred of Israel was of literal Biblical proportions. From the start of his regime, he pursued the grandiose goal of rebuilding the ancient Biblical city of Babylon. This fit with his thinking of being the modern incarnation of Nebuchadnezzar, the most important of the Chaldean or Neo-Babylonian kings, who ruled from 605 to 562 BC. In 597 and 586 Jerusalem was besieged and captured by Nebuchadnezzar; the second time, the king destroyed the city and carried the Jews off into their Babylonian captivity. Saddam hoped to do the same to the Jews of his day.
In Babylonia, and most conspicuously in Babylon itself, Nebuchadnezzar engaged in numerous extravagant building projects. Picking up the mantle some 2,500 years later, Saddam embarked on a $200 million remake of the ancient city. In this re-erected Babylon, every tenth brick (among the 60 million) was inscribed, “Babylon was rebuilt in the reign of Saddam Hussein,” as they had once carried Nebuchadnezzar’s name. This was Saddam’s most precious project—his apotheosis, his crowning touch. He invited the world to his spectacle when in the late 1980s he began hosting an International Babylon Festival.
Given these openly anti-Semitic ambitions, it was not exactly reassuring when Saddam in the early 1990s spoke publicly of “scorching half of Israel”—a country he called “an evil entity”—with chemical gas. Israelis feared that precisely that might be underway when, during the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam began firing Scud missiles at Tel Aviv. Israel had done nothing to provoke him, and in fact deliberately stayed out of the conflict out of fear of giving Saddam what he was seeking: an Israeli retaliation that would split the fragile Arab component of the Gulf War coalition. In a frightening reminder of the Holocaust, Israelis donned gas masks and placed their babies in special airtight cribs so they would not choke to death.
Saddam never gave up his hatred of Jews, nor his love of terrorism: In April 2002—almost exactly one year before he would flee from American tanks—Saddam publicly upped the payment from $10,000 to $25,000 for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers who blew themselves up in the service of killing Israel’s Jews.
Most significant, for two full decades Saddam relentlessly pursued WMDs with as much unholy gusto as Ahmadinejad ever did, and with a full complement of U.N. inspectors on hand to provide 24-7 surveillance inside his country. Israel then, as it does today, rightly feared it was the ultimate target.
So, all of this begs the question: Why are we now being told that George W. Bush was wrongly focused on Saddam’s Iraq instead of Ahmadinejad’s Iran?
The question is all the more baffling given that this is a changed position by liberals, a reversal from the Clinton years to the Bush years. They were fully supportive of repeatedly bombing Saddam during the Clinton years. Whatever the reasons for their switch—from political to psychological, from logical to purely emotional—there is no denying that Saddam was just as bad, if not worse, than Ahmadinejad.
Yes, yes, I know that the expected WMD stockpiles were not in Iraq when we got there, for reasons still not clear. I know that we are in a mess in Iraq right now. But a truly evil man named Saddam Hussein—arguably worse than the current evil man in Iran—is out of power and guaranteed to never return.
We should be very grateful that he is gone—gone for good. It is amazing how this wonderful recent development is barely even discussed—swept right under the rug. Can just one Bush critic at least concede that this is something to celebrate? Please? Just one?