In March, 2006, Ala Bashir, a personal physician to Saddam Hussein, published a book called The Insider: Trapped In Saddam’s Brutal Regime.
For 20 years, Bashir was part of Hussein’s inner circle. Saddam had invited Bashir, a plastic surgeon, to join his medical team—an invitation that could not be refused. It was also impossible to quit, even when Bashir feared for his life. So for 20 years, Bashir witnessed the dictator’s behavior.
“He was certainly a psychopath: friendly and polite, but ruthless toward his enemies and challengers,” Bashir said in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat, a Finnish newspaper. “I do not believe that Saddam Hussein regretted the suffering he caused the Iraqi people.”
Another article about the book, published by The American Enterprise Online, said,
“Dr. Bashir describes the ways he had to cater to the narcissistic whims of the Hussein family (Saddam apparently was more worried about corns on his feet than the Americans bombing Baghdad, while the women of the family were too caught up booking their nose jobs to much notice their people dying around them). He also describes the extreme fear that he and others had of Saddam, and of the ruthless insanity that characterized Saddam’s son Uday’s every move.
We can be told a thousand times that Saddam was a callous and vain man, or that Uday was a violent misogynist, but it isn’t until we read Dr. Bashir recounting his memories—of Saddam torching Uday’s cars as punishment for Uday murdering a valet, or of having to treat women for knife wounds and cigarette burns they obtained courtesy of a drunken Uday—that it all really sinks in. The personal details (Saddam smoking a cigar as Uday’s cars burned, Saddam’s mentally ill aunt having two servants killed on a suspicion they had stolen something) are what helps us to understand on a human level what life in Iraq was like before Saddam’s fall.”
Another Iraqi doctor also called Saddam a psychopath. According to the Boston Globe, Khudair Abbas was a surgeon who lived in exile in Britain for more than 20 years. Abbas returned to the country and became the interim Iraqi health minister in 2003. The article stated:
Hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of Iraqis who refused to join the military had their ears cut off or were “marked” on their foreheads by doctors who were paid by the regime, Abbas said.
“I have met with hundreds of those mutilated Iraqis,” he said. “One of them, when he faced me, he started to cry and cry. He has been housebound… because he cannot face his family members, he cannot face his neighbors… He cannot tolerate to walk the streets.”
Abbas continued, “Saddam’s a person who is extremely sick. He gets too much pleasure on the pains of others.”
America’s support for Saddam
A truly disturbing article was published by Newsweek on September 23, 2002—before America’s invasion of Iraq. The headline: How the U.S. helped create Saddam Hussein.
“American officials have known that Saddam was a psychopath ever since he became the country’s de facto ruler in the early 1970s,” Newsweek wrote. But the Regan administration was more worried about Iran than Iraq, and supported Saddam in his war against the radical mullahs with military intelligence, economic aid and covert supplies of munitions.
According to Newsweek:
The history of America’s relations with Saddam is one of the sorrier tales in American foreign policy. Time and again, America turned a blind eye to Saddam’s predations, saw him as the lesser evil or flinched at the chance to unseat him. No single policymaker or administration deserves blame for creating, or at least tolerating, a monster; many of their decisions seemed reasonable at the time. Even so, there are moments in this clumsy dance with the Devil that make one cringe. It is hard to believe that, during most of the 1980s, America knowingly permitted the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission to import bacterial cultures that might be used to build biological weapons. But it happened.
The article gives more examples of American tolerance for Saddam’s atrocities. The U.S. knew Saddam was using chemical weapons against Iranian troops. When he gassed Kurdish rebels and civilians, the Regan administration first blamed Iran, then acknowledged, under pressure, that Saddam’s forces had done it. There was only a token official protest. Apparently, the U.S. was more concerned about Iraqi oil than a brutal dictator who massacred his own people.
Disaster and death
When leaders and other authorities—like court judges—do not truly understand the personality of a psychopath, the result is disaster.
Psychopaths do not play by the rules. They do not keep promises. They do not accept responsibility. They do not tell the truth. They act on their whims, even when the whims are irrational. They do not care about hurting or killing people.
American officials knew for decades that Saddam Hussein was a psychopath. Yet they still felt that they could do business with the man.
Tell that to the families of the 3,000 dead American soldiers.