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A kinder, gentler murderous dictator

Get ready for the latest salvo in the media campaign to undermine any possible rationale for the Iraq war: charming descriptions of the softer side of Saddam Hussein. The Associated Press reports on a story coming out in the July issue of GQ magazine:

Thrust unexpectedly into the role of prison guards for Saddam Hussein, a group of young American soldiers found the deposed Iraqi leader to be a friendly, talkative "clean freak" who loved Raisin Bran for breakfast, did his own laundry and insisted he was still president of Iraq, says a report published on Monday.

...Saddam learned the names of the GIs guarding him, was interested in the details of their lives, which they were not supposed to discuss, and sometimes offered fatherly advice. They conversed in English.

[Specialist Sean] O'Shea said when he told him he was not married, Saddam "started telling me what to do." "He was like, `you gotta find a good woman. Not too smart, not too dumb. Not too old, not too young. One that can cook and clean.'"

Then he smiled, made what O'Shea interpreted as a "spanking" gesture, laughed and went back to washing his clothes in the sink.
Awww... what a sweetheart. Not since Sideshow Bob's parole hearing has a criminal been so egregiously misrepresented to the public.


Anonymous said...

Supposedly, Herman Goering befriended his guards, through an actually warm personality (how many politicians or bureaucrats rise without seeming like "nice people")?

He used one of the friendships to smuggle in poison to committ suicide, avoiding Allied justice. 

Posted by Dan

Anonymous said...

I smell a sitcom!!!!  

Posted by Bojack

Anonymous said...

Parole Board: "Isn't it true that you have a tatoo that says "Die Bart, Die"?

Sideshow Bob: No, no, no...that's simply German for "Thee Bart, Thee". 

Posted by Dave

GaijinBiker said...

Bojack: I was thinking the exact same thing. It would be like a reverse Hogan's Heroes...

Dave: The follow-up line from one of the parole board members is even better: "No one who speaks German could be an evil man!"

Anonymous said...

Actually I was thinking more along the lines of ALF... but Hogan's Heroes works too. 

Posted by Bojack

Anonymous said...

This is nitpicking again, but how is Saddam being "egregiously misrepresented" here?

If an evil sociopathic dictator tranforms into a "nice" avuncular guy when incarcerated, that's interesting, and therefore news. What's wrong with reporting it?

Are you advocating censoring any positive information about Saddam for fear that the public will somehow forget the decades of coverage of his tyranny? I thought you were in favor of presenting the whole picture and letting the public figure things out for themselves. It's not like Saddam's guilt is hard to understand. 

Posted by Big Ben

Anonymous said...

I can answer that Big Ben: supporters of aggressive U.S. militarism are constantly on the lookout for moral blank checks.

As you can see on this blog, defense of the U.S. invasion almost always devolves to: ok, we're forced to admit that the U.S. military tortures, kills civilians, spends money we don't have and lies about it all, but it's necessary because our enemies are PURE EVIL.
Thus it just won't do to conclude that Saddam (or Noriega or Kadafy, etc.) is a bad guy. He must be made out to be a super bad guy, beyond evil, barbaric and so on and on and on. That way, however inhumane, senseless, unAmerican, barbaric and plain stupid U.S. actions are, they are "better than Saddam.''
Notice how Iraq war supporters cling so vociferously to a fetishized description of "gulag," as if "better than gulag'' is a respectable rationale for using torture. Notice how Fox News Channel's and CNN's and the network's barking dog news-commentators repeat ad nauseum that people need to see beheadings so that they can see how evil the bad guys reallly are.

Many of these same people argue that news coverage showing Iraqis as humans victimized by a war they don't deserve are irrelevant, since they somehow make it more difficult for the U.S. to "win."

In a world where Saddam is a human, not a superhuman satanic force, the exceedingly thin case for war in Iraq dwindles to nothing.


Posted by bunkerbuster

Anonymous said...

I don't think we should censor information, but I question the agenda behind what essentially amounts to a puff piece on Saddam Hussein.

All news coverage contains bias, if only in the fact that the reporter chose to devote his attention to one particular story and ignore others. And I believe that spending time and effort humanizing the image of a brutal dictator, when other, more consequential stories are left uncovered, represents a case of misplaced journalistic priorities. What good does it do us to know that Saddam likes Raisin Bran, but not Froot Loops?

I suspect the whole thing is at least in part an attempt to play down the threat Saddam represented by portraying him as a harmless old man. If so, then the article is deliberately attempting to obfuscate meaningful information by smothering it beneath a pile of trivia. People may be smart enough to see through this tactic, but that doesn't mean I have to respect or encourage it.

When we paint U.S. troops as murderous thugs and Saddam Hussein as an avuncular old man happily munching his breakfast cereal and dispensing fatherly advice, then we have truly gone through the looking glass. 

Posted by GaijinBiker

Anonymous said...

GB writes: ``When we paint U.S. troops as murderous thugs and Saddam Hussein as an avuncular old man...''

Back on earth, the media is crammed with positive stories about troops, along with occassional news about thuggish, murderous behavior. To my knowledge, this single report is the only one to ever suggest that Saddam is actually a human being. Morever it is simply hallucination to suggest that the context and full content of the reports on Saddam's guards and how he responded to them suggests that he is merely "an avuncular old man.''

The only thing I can figure is that right-wingers feel profoundly threatened when someone even hints that there moral blank check is an overdraft. 

Posted by bunkerbuster

maryatexitzero said...

I suppose we should be grateful that the Left hasn’t yet started a campaign to free Saddam Hussein, like their previous efforts to Free Slobodan Milosevic!!...

From the "Artists’ Appeal for Milosevic"

If justice is not just, if prosecution is persecution, if international law is flouted in order to “enforce international law”, we are indeed now living in the dystopian world of George Orwell’s 1984. The neighborhood bully [the US, of course] has decided the world is his back yard. The implications of this egregious use of "power politics" go beyond the unjust trial of Slobodan Milosevic: the "new world order" now being implemented is simply inhuman and intolerable. What can be done to change this cruel and criminal state of affairs?

Let us remember that it was not long ago that 15 million people marched on the same day in a gesture of international solidarity to say no to the Bush junta’s illegal war on Iraq. Now is the time for another such gesture. For if this trial continues, the only triumphs will be those of travesty over justice, power over principle, disinformation over truth. And many feel that the sum total of these acts constitutes state terrorism perpetrated on a virtually defenseless country and its legally elected president.

Sounds familiar.

Posted by mary



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