We used to go fishing with dynamite and the fishermen would always tell us to make sure our stomach and legs were out of the water. Of course, Saddam would do the opposite and stand in the river up to his chest.
- Ibrahim Zobedi, childhood friend of Saddam Hussein
According to recent opinion polls, a growing majority of Americans support the presidents call for military action against Iraq.
But polls are only tiny samples of whatever group the pollsters are trying to define. If we could talk personally with most of the above majority, I suspect we would hear more sighs and misgivings than rousing votes of confidence in their answers. Though I count myself in that majority, I grieve, too, at the prospect of war. Arming our sons, daughters and grandchildren against those with the same family connections tears at all our hearts. War? Isnt there still another way?
Another majority thats grown in recent days is the number of nations willing to support our countrys position on Iraq. Some of those countries once opposed the war, but they have more information now.
While I was searching for more information about this almost certain war, I came across an article by Patrick Graham, a reporter for the Canadian newspaper, The National Post. From a recent visit to Saddam Husseins boyhood home in Iraq, and an interview with his childhood friend in Syria, Graham has gathered information about the early life of the Iraqi president that helped me understand why this man should never have been the head of any government, and why he must be disarmed now.
Perhaps the following summary of Grahams article will also help you decide or accept the decision our nation must make about Iraq.
Ibrahim Zobedi is one of Saddam Husseins few surviving childhood friends, but they are no longer friends. Most, including Saddams cousin Adnan Khairallah, have died in accidents or other mysterious ways. The last time Ibrahim saw his old friend, Saddam gave him one lingering glance and turned away. Ibrahim sensed danger and moved to Syria. Saddam wants no one around who remembers when he had no talent and he was nothing, Ibrahim said.
The boys attended the same school, but came from neighboring villages. Ibrahims father had good reason to disapprove of his sons friendship with the poor boy who lived in a one-room, mud-brick house on the banks of the Tigris River. All Saddams relatives were killers or thieves.
Ibrahim describes Saddam as a stubborn, insecure loner, who thought no one liked him, perhaps because his stepfather hated him. He was a poor student, he didnt like girls, and he thought falling in love - like singing - was a weakness. Saddams uncle would praise Ibrahim for his good grades, but laugh and call Saddam a dummy.
One day Ibrahim found a wallet and returned it to its owner. Saddam said, If Id had that wallet, God would not have found it.
Soon Saddam learned how to be respected. Once, during the middle of the night, he shot a hated teachers brother, and later murdered the man who demoted his favorite uncle. He got away with both crimes because of lack of evidence. In Saddams village, the more you kill, the more you are respected. His respect must have grown when he aided an attempted assassination of Iraqi leader, Abdul Karim Qassem, in 1959.
Graham asked Ibrahim what he thought Saddam would do now.
If you (The United States) go, he will fight you. He will not resign. He wont even give power to his son. If he felt his son was a threat, the son wouldnt last one minute . He will not give up his weapons, and they will not find what he wants to hide.
Concerning the previous Gulf War, Ibrahim concludes: He thought former President George Bush might not fight.
War? Sometimes there is no other way.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to seabara@ aol.com.)
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