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# Saddam Hussein of Iraq: A Political Psychology Profile

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Saddam Hussein was born in 1937 to a poor peasant family near Tikrit, some 100 miles north of Baghdad, in central-north Iraq. But the central lines of the development of Saddam Hussein’s political personality were etched before he was born, for his father died of an “internal disease” (probably cancer) during his mother’s pregnancy with Saddam, and his 12-year-old brother died (of childhood cancer) a few months later, when Saddam’s mother, Sabha, was in her eighth month of pregnancy. Destitute, Saddam’s mother attempted suicide.
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Saddam Hussein of Iraq: A Political Psychology Profile
Jerrold M. Post, M.D.
Introduction

Identified as a member of the “axis of evil” by President George W. Bush, Saddam
Hussein’s Iraq continues to pose a major threat to the region and to Western society.
Saddam has doggedly pursued the development of weapons of mass destruction, despite
UN sanctions imposed at the conclusion of the Gulf crisis. To deal effectively with
Saddam Hussein requires a clear understanding of his motivations, perceptions, and
decision-making. To provide a framework for this complex political leader, a
comprehensive political psychology profile has been developed, and his actions since the
crisis analyzed in the context of this political psychology assessment.

Political Personality Profile

Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq, has been characterized as “the madman of the
Middle East.” This pejorative diagnosis is not only inaccurate but also dangerous.
he is unpredictable when in fact he is not. An examination of the record of Saddam
Hussein’s leadership of Iraq for the past 34 years reveals a judicious political calculator,
who is by no means irrational, but is dangerous to the extreme.

Saddam Hussein, “the great struggler,” has explained the extremity of his actions as
president of Iraq as necessary to achieve “subjective immunity” against foreign plots and
influences. All actions of the revolution are justified by the “exceptionalism of
revolutionary needs.” In fact, an examination of Saddam Hussein’s life and career
reveals this is but the ideological rationalization for a lifelong pattern in which all actions
are justified if they are in the service of furthering Saddam Hussein’s needs and
messianic ambitions.

Painful Beginnings — The “Wounded Self”

Saddam Hussein was born in 1937 to a poor peasant family near Tikrit, some 100
miles north of Baghdad, in central-north Iraq. But the central lines of the development of
Saddam Hussein’s political personality were etched before he was born, for his father
died of an “internal disease” (probably cancer) during his mother’s pregnancy with
Saddam, and his 12-year-old brother died (of childhood cancer) a few months later,
when Saddam’s mother, Sabha, was in her eighth month of pregnancy. Destitute,
Saddam’s mother attempted suicide. A Jewish family saved her. Then she tried to abort
herself of Saddam, but was again prevented from doing this by her Jewish benefactors.
After Saddam was born, on April 28, 1937, his mother did not wish to see him, strongly
suggesting that she was suffering from a major depression. His care was relegated to
Sabha’s brother (his maternal uncle) Khayrallah Talfah Msallat in Tikrit, in whose home
Saddam spent much of his early childhood. At age three Saddam was re-united with his
mother, who in the interim had married a distant relative, Hajj Ibrahim Hasan. Hajj
Ibrahim, his step-father, reportedly was abusive psychologically and physically to young

1

The first several years of life are crucial to the development of healthy self-
esteem. The failure of the mother to nurture and bond with her infant son and the
subsequent abuse at the hands of his step-father would have profoundly wounded
Saddam’s emerging self-esteem, impairing his capacity for empathy with others,
producing what has been identified as “the wounded self.” One course in the face of such
traumatizing experiences is to sink into despair, passivity and hopelessness. But another
is to etch a psychological template of compensatory grandiosity, as if to vow, “Never
again, never again shall I submit to superior force.” This was the developmental

From early years on, Saddam, whose name means “the One who Confronts,” charted
his own course and would not accept limits. According to his semi-official biography,
when Saddam was only ten, he was impressed by a visit from his cousin who knew how
to read and write. He confronted his family with his wish to become educated, and when
they turned him down, since there was no school in his parents’ village, he left his home
in the middle of the night, making his way to the home of his maternal uncle Khayrallah
in Tikrit in order to study there. It is quite possible that in the approved biography
Saddam somewhat embellished his story, but there is no mistaking his resentment against
his mother and step-father that emerges from it.

Khayrallah Inspires Dreams of Glory

Khayrallah was to become not only Saddam’s father figure but also his political
mentor. Khayrallah had fought against Great Britain in the Iraqi uprising of 1941 and
had spent five years in prison for his nationalist agitation. He filled the impressionable
young boy’s head with tales of his heroic relatives –his great grandfather and two great
uncles –who gave their lives for the cause of Iraqi nationalism, fighting foreign invaders.
He conveyed to his young charge that he was destined for greatness, following the path of
his heroic relatives and of heroes of the radical Arab world. Khayrallah, who was later to
become governor of Baghdad, shaped young Hussein’s worldview, imbuing him with a
hatred of foreigners. In 1981, Saddam republished a pamphlet written by his uncle
entitled “Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Persians, Jews, and Flies.”

Khayrallah tutored his young charge in his view of Arab history and the ideology of
nationalism and the Ba’th party. Founded in 1940, the Ba’th party envisaged the creation
of a new Arab nation defeating the colonialist and imperialist powers, and achieving Arab
independence, unity, and socialism. Ba’th ideology, as conceptualized by its intellectual
founding father, Michel Aflaq, focuses on the history of oppression and division of the
Arab world, first at the hands of the Ottomans, then the Western mandates, then the
monarchies ruled by Western interests, and finally by the establishment of the “Zionist
entity.” Thus inspired by his uncle’s tales of heroism in the service of the Arab nation,
Saddam has been consumed by dreams of glory since his earliest days, identifying
himself with Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylonia who conquered Jerusalem in 586
B.C., and Saladin, who regained Jerusalem in 1187 by defeating the Crusaders. But these

2

dreams of glory, formed so young, were compensatory, for they sat astride a wounded
self and profound self-doubt.

Saddam was steeped in Arab history and Ba’thist ideology by the time he traveled
with his uncle to Baghdad to pursue his secondary education. The school, a hotbed of
Arab nationalism, confirmed his political leanings. In 1952, when Saddam was 15,
Nasser led the Free Officer’s revolution in Egypt and became a hero to young Saddam
and his peers. As the activist leader of Pan Arabism, Nasser became an idealized model
for Saddam. Only by courageously confronting imperialist powers could Arab
nationalism be freed from Western shackles.

At age 20, inspired by Nasser, Saddam joined the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party in Iraq
and quickly impressed party officials with his dedication. Known as a “street thug,” he
willingly used violence in the service of the party, and was rewarded with rapid
promotion. Two years later, in 1958, apparently emulating Nasser, Army General
Qassem led a coup which ousted the monarchy. But unlike Nasser, Qassem did not
pursue the path of socialism and turned against the Ba’th party. The 22-year-old Saddam
was called to Ba’th Party headquarters and given the mission to lead a five-man team to
assassinate Qassem. The mission failed, reportedly because of a crucial error in
judgment by Saddam. But Saddam’s escape to Syria, first by horseback across the desert
and then by swimming a river, has achieved mythic status in Iraqi history. During his
exile, Saddam went to Egypt to study law, rising to the leadership ranks of the Egyptian
Ba’th Party. He returned to Iraq after 1963, when Qassem was ousted by the Ba’ths, and
was elected to the National Command. Aflaq, the ideological father of the Ba’th party,
admired young Hussein, declaring the Iraqi Ba’th party the finest in the world and
designating Saddam Hussein as his successor.

Despite –or rather because of—fellow Ba’thist Hafez al-Assad’s success in taking
control of Syria, Saddam confronted the new Syrian Ba’th leadership in a party meeting
in Iraq in 1966. The split and rivalry persist to this day, for there can be only one
supreme Arab nationalist leader, and destiny has inscribed his name as Saddam Hussein.

With the crucial secret assistance of military intelligence chief Abdul Razzaz al
Nayef, Saddam mounted a successful coup in 1968. In “gratitude” for services rendered,
within two weeks of the coup, Saddam arranged for the capture and exile of Nayef, and
subsequently ordered his assassination.

This act was a paradigm for the manner in which Saddam has rewarded loyalty and
adhered to commitments throughout his career. He has a flexible conscience:
commitments and loyalty are matters of circumstance, and circumstances change. If an
individual, or a nation, is perceived as an impediment or a threat, no matter how loyal in
the past, that individual or nation will be eliminated violently without a backward glance,
and the action will be justified by “the exceptionalism of revolutionary needs.” Nothing
must be permitted to stand in “the great struggler’s” messianic path as he pursues his (and
Iraq’s) revolutionary destiny, as exemplified by this extract from Saddam Hussein’s

3

remarkable “Victory Day” message of August 8, 1990

This is the only way to deal with these despicable Croesuses who relished possession
to destroy devotion... who were guided by the foreigner instead of being guided by
virtuous standards, principals of Pan-Arabism, and the creed of humanitarianism...
The second of August... is the legitimate newborn child of the struggle, patience and
perseverance of the Kuwaiti people, which was crowned by revolutionary action on
that immortal day. The newborn child was born of a legitimate father and an
immaculate mother. Greetings to the makers of the second of August, whose efforts
God has blessed. They have achieved one of the brightest, most promising and most
principled national and Pan-Arab acts.

Two August has come as a very violent response to the harm that the foreigner had
wanted to perpetrate against Iraq and the nation. The Croesus of Kuwait and his
aides become the obedient, humiliated and treacherous dependents of that foreigner
... What took place on 2 August was inevitable so that death might not prevail over
life, so that those who were capable of ascending to the peak would not be brought
down to the abysmal precipice, so that corruption and remoteness from God would
not spread to the majority... Honor will be kept in Mesopotamia so that Iraq will be
the pride of the Arabs, their protector, and their model of noble values.

Capable of Reversing His Course

Saddam’s practice of revolutionary opportunism has another important characteristic.
Just as previous commitments must not be permitted to stand in way of Saddam’s
messianic path, neither should he persist in a particular course of action if it proves to be
counterproductive for him and his nation. When he pursues a course of action, he
pursues it fully; if he meets initial resistance, he will struggle all the harder, convinced of
the correctness of his judgments. But should circumstances demonstrate that he has
miscalculated, he is capable of reversing his course. In these circumstances, he does not
acknowledge he has erred, but rather that he is adapting to a dynamic situation. The
three most dramatic examples of his revolutionary pragmatism and ideological flexibility
are in his ongoing struggle with his Persian enemies.

Yields on Shatt al Arab To Quell the Kurdish Rebellion

Saddam had forced a mass relocation of the Kurdish population in 1970. In 1973, he
declared that the Ba’th party represented all Iraqis, that the Kurds could not be neutral,
and that the Kurds were either fully with the people or against them. Indeed, this is one
of Saddam’s basic principles “He who is not totally with me is my enemy.” The Kurds
were therefore seen as insidious enemies supported by foreign powers, in particular the
Iranians. In 1973, the Kurdish minority, supported by the Shah of Iran, rebelled. By
1975, the war against the Kurds had become extremely costly, having cost 60,000 lives in
one year alone. Demonstrating his revolutionary pragmatism, despite his lifelong hatred
of the Persians, Saddam’s urgent need to put down the Kurdish rebellion took
(temporary) precedence. In March 1975, Saddam signed an agreement with the Shah of

4

Iran, stipulating Iranian sovereignty over the disputed Shatt aI Arab waterway in return
for Iran’s ceasing to supply the Kurdish rebellion.

The loss of the Shatt al Arab waterway continued to rankle, and in September 1980,
province, at first meeting little resistance. One of his first acts was to cancel the 1975
treaty dividing the Shatt al Arab waterway. After Iraq initial success, Iran stiffened and
began to inflict serious damage not only on Iraqi forces but also on Iraqi cities. It
became clear to Saddam that the war was counterproductive.

Attempts to End the Iran-Iraq War

In June 1982, Saddam reversed his earlier militant aggression and attempted to
terminate hostilities, offering a unilateral ceasefire. Khomeini, who by now was obsessed
with Saddam, would have none of it, indicating that there would be no peace with Iraq
until Saddam no longer ruled Iraq, and the Iran-Iraq War continued for another bloody
six years, taking a dreadful toll, estimated at more than a million. In 1988, an indecisive
ceasefire was agreed upon, with Iraq sustaining an advantage, retaining control of some
700 square miles of Iranian territory and retaining control over the strategic Shatt al Arab
waterway. Saddam, who maintained 500,000 troops in the disputed border, vowed he
would “never” allow Iran sovereignty over any part of the waterway until Iran agreed to
forgo its claim to the disputed waterway. Saddam declared he would not agree to an
exchange of prisoners, nor would he withdraw from Iranian territory. But revolutionary
pragmatism was to supersede this vow, for he desperately needed the 500,000 troops that
were tied up in the dispute.

Reverses Policy on Disputed Waterway

On August 15, 1990, Hussein agreed to meet Iranian conditions, promising to
withdraw from Iranian territory, agreeing to an exchange of prisoners and, most
importantly, agreeing to share the disputed Shatt al Arab waterway. Never is a short time
when revolutionary pragmatism dictates, which was important to remember in evaluating
Saddam’s vow of 1990 to never relinquish Kuwait, and his continued intransigence to
Western demands.

Reversal of Hostage Policy

The decision to release all foreign hostages fits this pattern. As with other
misdirected policies in the past, Saddam initially pursued his hostage policy with full
vigor, despite mounting evidence that it was counterproductive. When it became clear to
him that it was not protecting him from the likelihood of military conflict, as initially
conceived, but was actually unifying the international opposition, he reversed his policy.
His announcement followed an especially strong statement by Secretary Baker
concerning the use of “decisive force,” but the anger of his former ally, the Soviet Union,
was undoubtedly important as well. Moreover, the timing was designed not only to play
on perceived internal divisions within the United States, but also to magnify perceived
differences in the international coalition, a demonstration of his shrewdly manipulative

5

sense of timing.

A Rational Calculator Who Often Miscalculates

The labels “madman of the Middle East” and “megalomaniac” are often affixed to
Saddam, but in fact there is no evidence that he is suffering from a psychotic disorder.
He is not impulsive, acts only after judicious consideration, and can be extremely
patient; indeed he uses time as a weapon. While he is psychologically in touch with
reality, he is often politically out of touch with reality.
and distorted, and he has scant experience outside of the Arab world. His only sustained
experience with non-Arabs was with his Soviet military advisors, and he reportedly has
only traveled outside of the Middle East on two occasions – a brief trip to Paris in1976
and another trip to Moscow. Moreover, he is surrounded by sycophants, who are cowed
by Saddam’s well-founded reputation for brutality and who are afraid to contradict him.
He has ruthlessly eliminated perceived threats to his power and equates criticism with
disloyalty.

In 1979, when he fully assumed the reins of Iraqi leadership, one of his first acts was
to meet with his senior officials, some 200 in number, of which there were 21 officials
whose loyalty he questioned. The dramatic meeting of his senior officials in which the
21 “traitors” were identified while Saddam watched, luxuriantly smoking a Cuban cigar,
has been captured on film. After the “forced confessions by a “plotter” whose family had
been arrested, the remaining senior officials were complimented for their loyalty by
Saddam and were rewarded by being directed to form the execution squads.

In 1982, when the war with Iran was going very badly for Iraq and Saddam wished to
terminate hostilities, Khomeini, who was personally fixated on Saddam, insisted there
could be no peace until Saddam was removed from power. At a cabinet meeting,
suggested Saddam temporarily step down, to resume the presidency after peace had been
established. Saddam reportedly thanked him for his candor and ordered his arrest. His
wife pleaded for her husband’s return, indicating that her husband had always been loyal
to Saddam. Saddam promised her that her husband would be returned. The next day,
Saddam returned her husband’s body to her in a black canvas bag, chopped into pieces.
This powerfully concentrated the attention of the other ministers who were unanimous in
their insistence that Saddam remain in power, for it emphasized that to be seen as disloyal
to Saddam is not only to risk losing one’s job, but could forfeit one’s life. Thus Saddam
is deprived of the check of wise counsel from his leadership circle. This combination of
limited international perspective and a sycophantic leadership circle has in the past led
him to miscalculate.

Saddam’s pursuit of power for himself and Iraq is boundless. In fact, in his mind, the
destiny of Saddam and Iraq are one and indistinguishable. His exalted self-concept is

6

fused with his Ba’thist political ideology. Ba’thist dreams will be realized when the Arab
nation is unified under one strong leader. In Saddam’s mind, he is destined for that role.

No Constraint of Conscience

In pursuit of his messianic dreams, there is no evidence he is constrained by conscience;
his only loyalty is to Saddam Hussein. When there is an obstacle in his revolutionary
path, Saddam eliminates it, whether it is a previously loyal subordinate or a previously
supportive country.

Unconstrained Aggression in Pursuit of His Goals

In pursuing his goals, Saddam uses aggression instrumentally. He uses whatever force is
necessary, and will, if he deems it expedient, go to extremes of violence, including the
use of weapons of mass destruction. His unconstrained aggression is instrumental in
pursuing his goals, but it is at the same time defensive aggression, for his grandiose

Paranoid Orientation

While Hussein is not psychotic, he has a strong paranoid orientation. He is ready for
retaliation, and, not without reason, sees himself as surrounded by enemies. But he
ignores his role in creating those enemies, and righteously threatens his targets. The
conspiracy theories he spins are not merely for popular consumption in the Arab world,
but genuinely reflect his paranoid mindset. He is convinced that the United States, Israel,
and Iran have been in league for the purpose of eliminating him, and finds a persuasive
chain of evidence for this conclusion. His minister of information, Latif Jassim, who was
responsible for propaganda and public statements, probably helped reinforce Saddam’s
paranoid disposition and, in a sense, is the implementer of his paranoia.

It is this political personality constellation—messianic ambition for unlimited power,
absence of conscience, unconstrained aggression, and a paranoid outlook— which makes
Saddam so dangerous. Conceptualized as malignant narcissism, this is the personality
configuration of the destructive charismatic, who unifies and rallies his downtrodden
supporters by blaming outside enemies. While Saddam is not charismatic, this
psychological stance is the basis of Saddam’s particular appeal to the Palestinians who
see him as a strongman who shares their intense anti-Zionism and will champion their
cause.

Views Self as One of History’s Great Leaders

Saddam Hussein genuinely sees himself as one of the great leaders of history, ranking
himself with his heroes: Nasser, Castro, Tito, Ho Chi Minh, and Mao Zedong, each of
whom he admires for adapting socialism to his environment, free of foreign domination.
Saddam sees himself as transforming his society. He believes youth must be “fashioned”
to “safeguard the future” and that Iraqi children must be transformed into a “radiating

7

encouraged youth to inform on their parents’ antirevolutionary activity. As God-like
status was ascribed to Mao, and giant pictures and statues of him were placed throughout
of personality, Saddam shrugs and says he “cannot help it if that is what they want to do.”

Probably Over-reads Degree of Support in Arab World

Saddam Hussein is so consumed with his messianic mission that he probably over-
reads the degree of his support in the rest of the Arab world. He psychologically assumes
that many in the Arab world, especially the downtrodden, share his views and see him as
their hero. He was probably genuinely surprised at the nearly unanimous condemnation
of his invasion of Kuwait.

It is not by accident that Saddam Hussein has survived for more than three decades as
his nation’s preeminent leader in this tumultuous part of the world. While he is driven by
dreams of glory, and his political perspective is narrow and distorted, he is a shrewd
tactician who has a sense of patience. Able to justify extremes of aggression on the basis
of revolutionary needs, if the aggression is counterproductive, he has shown a pattern of
reversing his course when he has miscalculated, waiting until a later day to achieve his
revolutionary destiny. His drive for power is not diminished by these reversals, but only
deflected.

Saddam Hussein is a ruthless political calculator who will go to whatever lengths are
necessary to achieve his goals. But he is not a martyr and his survival in power – with his
dignity intact – is his highest priority. Saddam has been characterized by Soviet Foreign
Minister Primakov and others as suffering from a “Masada complex,” preferring a
martyr’s death to yielding. This is assuredly not the case, for Saddam has no wish to be a
martyr, and survival is his number one priority. A self-proclaimed revolutionary
pragmatist, he does not wish a conflict in which Iraq will be grievously damaged and his

to the potential for miscalculation, nevertheless his advisors are able to make significant
inputs to the accuracy of Saddam’s evaluation of Iraq’s political/military situation by
providing information and assessments. Moreover, despite their reluctance to disagree
with him, the situation facing the leadership after the invasion of Kuwait was so grave
that several officials reportedly expressed their reservations about remaining in Kuwait.

As the crisis heightened in the fall of 1990, Saddam dismissed a number of senior
officials, replacing them with family members and known loyalists. He replaced the
Petroleum Minister Chalabi, a highly sophisticated technical expert, with his son-in-law,
Hussein Kamal. Moreover, he replaced his Army Chief of Staff General Nizar Khazraji,
a professional military man, with General Hussein Rashid, commander of the Republican
Guards and a Tikriti. Tough and extremely competent, Rashid is both intensely
ideological and fiercely loyal. It was as if Saddam was drawing in the wagons. This was

8

a measure of the stress on Saddam, suggesting that his siege mentality was intensifying.
The fiercely defiant rhetoric was another indicator of the stress on Saddam, for the more
threatened Saddam feels, the more threatening he becomes.

While Saddam appreciated the danger of the Gulf crisis, it did provide the opportunity
to defy the hated outsiders, a strong value in his Ba’th ideology. He continued to cast the
conflict as a struggle between Iraq and the United States, and even more personally as a
struggle became thus personalized, it enhanced Saddam’s reputation as a courageous
strongman willing to defy the imperialist United States.

When President George H.W. Bush depicted the conflict as the unified civilized
his role in history and places great stock in world opinion. If he were to conclude that his
status as a world leader was threatened, it would have important constraining effects on
him. Thus the prospect of being expelled from the United Nations and of Iraq being
castigated as a rogue nation outside the community of nations would be very threatening
to Saddam. The overwhelming majority supporting the Security Council resolution at the
time of the conflict must have confronted Saddam with the damage he was inflicting on
his stature as a leader, despite his defiant rhetoric dismissing the resolutions of the United
Nations as reflecting the United States’ control of the international organization.

Defiant rhetoric was a hallmark of the conflict and lent itself to misinterpretation
across cultural boundaries. The Arab world places great stock on expressive language.
The language of courage is a hallmark of leadership, and there is great value attached to
the very act of expressing brave resolve against the enemy in and of itself. Even though
the statement is made in response to the United States, when Saddam speaks it is to
multiple audiences; much of his language is solipsistic and designed to demonstrate his
courage and resolve to the Iraqi people and the Arab world. There is no necessary
connection between courageous verbal expression and the act threatened. Nasser gained
great stature from his fiery rhetoric threatening to make the sea red with Israeli blood. By
the same token, Saddam probably heard the Western words of President Bush through a
Middle Eastern filter. When a statement of resolve and intent was made by President
George H.W. Bush in a public statement, Saddam may well have discounted the
expressed intent to act. This underlines the importance of a private channel to
communicate clearly and unambiguously. The mission by Secretary of State Baker
afforded the opportunity to resolve any misunderstandings on Saddam’s part concerning
the strength of resolve and intentions of the United States and the international coalition.

Throughout his 22 years at the helm of Iraq, Saddam Hussein had languished in
obscurity, overshadowed by the heroic stature of other Middle Eastern leaders such as
Anwar Sadat and Ayatollah Khomeini. But with the Gulf crisis, for the first time in his
entire career, Saddam was exactly where he believed he was destined to be— a world-
class political actor on center stage commanding world events, with the entire world’s

9

attention focused upon him. When his rhetoric was threatening, the price of oil rose
precipitously and the Dow Jones average plummeted. He was demonstrating to the Arab
masses that he is an Arab strongman with the courage to defy the West and expel foreign
influences.

Now that he was at the very center of international attention, his appetite for glory
was stimulated all the more. The glory-seeking Saddam would not easily yield the
spotlight of international attention. He wanted to remain on center stage, but not at the
expense of his power and his prestige. Saddam would only withdraw if he calculated that
he could do so with his power and his honor intact, and that the drama in which he was
starring would continue.

achieved considerable honor in the eyes of the Arab masses for having the courage to
stand up to the West. It should be remembered that, even though Egypt militarily lost the
1973 war with Israel, Sadat became a hero to the Arab world for his willingness to attack
– and initially force back – the previously invincible forces of Israel. Qadhafi mounted an
air attack when the United States crossed the so-called “line of death.” Even though his
jets were destroyed in the ensuing conflict, Qadhafi’s status was raised in the Arab world.
Indeed, he thanked the United States for making him a hero. Thus Saddam could find
honor in the 1990 confrontation. His past history reveals a remarkable capacity to find
face-saving justification when reversing his course in very difficult circumstances.
Nevertheless, it would be important not to insist on total capitulation and humiliation, for
this could drive Saddam into a corner and make it impossible for him to reverse his
course. He would – could – only withdraw from Kuwait if he believed he could survive
with his power and his dignity intact.

By the same token, he would only reverse his course if his power and reputation were
threatened. This would require a posture of strength, firmness and clarity of purpose by a
unified civilized world, demonstrably willing to use force if necessary. The only
language Saddam Hussein understands is the language of power. Without this
demonstrable willingness to use force, even if the sanctions were biting deeply, Saddam
is quite capable of putting his population through a sustained period of hardship.

It was crucial to demonstrate unequivocally to Saddam Hussein that unless he
withdrew, his career as a world-class political actor would be ended. The announcement
of a major escalation of the force level was presumably designed to drive that message
home. The U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force unless Iraq withdrew by January
15 was a particularly powerful message because of the large majority supporting the
resolution.

The message almost certainly was received. In the wake of the announcement of the
increase in force level, Saddam intensified his request for “deep negotiations,” seeking a
way out in which he could preserve his power and his reputation. That President Bush
sent Secretary of State Baker to meet one-on-one with Saddam was an extremely
important step. In the interim leading up to the meeting, the shrewdly manipulative
Saddam continued to attempt to divide the international coalition.

10

Document Outline
• Political Personality Profile
• ??
• Khayrallah Inspires Dreams of Glory
• Capable of Reversing His Course
• Yields on Shatt al Arab To Quell the Kurdish Rebellion
• Attempts to End the Iran-Iraq War
• Reverses Policy on Disputed Waterway
• Reversal of Hostage Policy
• A Rational Calculator Who Often Miscalculates
• No Constraint of Conscience
• Paranoid Orientation
• ??
• Probably Over-reads Degree of Support in Arab World
• Why Saddam Did Not Withdraw from Kuwait
• Weakened Military
• Fractures in Tribal Loyalty
• Fault Lines in the Family
• ??
• Demotion of Uday
• Qusay
• Strategic Shift
• Redemption and Restoration of Morale Courtesy of the Kurds
• UN Resolution 986
• Strengthening International Support
• Iran
• ??
• Weapons of Mass Destruction
• Weapons Inspections
• The Use Of International Crisis

Saddam Hussein of Iraq: A Political Psychology Profile

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