Saddam Hussein stumbled and fumbled and betrayed his people into catastrophes. In the latest catastrophe he had a way out - proper use of the United Nations to resolve his country's perilous situation. His latest failure has brought catastrophe to more than his own people.
Success Before Failures
Saddam Hussein brought a measure of progress and stability to Iraq. Baghdad of the 1980's was considered the most advanced city of the Middle East. Before the Gulf War:
- Iraq's social and economic indicators were generally above regional and developing country averages. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1989 stood at 75.5 billion for a population of 18.3 million, $4000 per capita.
- Iraq had one of the highest per capita food availability indicators in the region. Dietary energy supply averaged 3120 calories per capita/per day.
- According to the World health organization (WHO), prior to 1991, Iraq health care reached approximately 97% of the urban population and 78% of rural residents. The health care system had an extensive network of health facilities linked up by reliable communications and a large fleet of service vehicles and ambulances.
- Infant mortality declined from 1960 to 1990, with the rate at 65 per 1.000 live births in 1989 (1991 Human Development Report average for developing countries was 76 per- 1.000 live births). UNICEF indicates that a national welfare system was in place to assist orphans and children with disabilities and support for the poorest families.
- Before 1991 the South and Center of Iraq had a well developed water and sanitation system comprising over two hundred water treatment plants ("wtp's)for urban areas and 1200 compact wtp's to serve rural areas, as well as an extensive distribution network. WHO estimates that 90% of the population had access to an abundant quantity of safe drinking water.
The inflated ambition of the Iraqi leader and his Baathist Party - unite the entire Arab world into becoming a powerful force - destroyed Iraq's progress.
Saddam's Early Failures
Saddam Hussein's initial failure - The Iraq/Iran War
Historians have differing opinions of the origins and causes of the war between Iraq and Iran that started in 1980. Although Iran and Iraq had negotiated territorial agreements over the Shatt al Arab waterway in 1975, Iraq's intention to gain exclusive control of the Shatt-al-Arab waterway is considered one principal cause of the war. The most likely cause - Saddam Hussein's effort to increase his power in the Arab world and replace Iran as the dominant state in the Persian Gulf.
Iranian counter attacks forced Saddam Hussein to request withdrawal to international borders, believing his gesture would make Iran agree to end the war. Iran did not end the war. In June 1982, the Iraqi leader proposed to negotiate and to withdraw its forces from Iran. Iran refused to acknowledge the proposal.
In April 1984, Saddam Hussein urged Iran's leader, Ayatollah Khomeini to meet with him to discuss peace negotiations. Iran wanted to halt the war, but the Ayatollah rejected any offer that involved negotiations with President Hussein.
The Iraq/Iran war lasted until August 1988, ending when Iran accepted United Nations Security Council Resolution 598. All previous opportunities to end the war could only be fulfilled if Saddam Hussein resigned as President, an act he was not willing to do.
Saddam Hussein's next failure - Gulf War
Saddam Hussein stumbled into the Gulf War by seizing Kuwait. He might have felt justified in attacking Kuwait and believing that the U.S. would not interfere. However, he had no political plan to administer Kuwait and no military plan to prevent the allied forces from destroying his ambitions. All opportunities to prevent the war could only be fulfilled if Saddam Hussein resigned as President, an act he was not willing to do.
Saddam Hussein's additional failure - Preventing Sanctions
Undoubtedly, the world mistreated the Iraqi people in the sanctions against their country. According to a United Nations field office survey in 1994:
..the country (Iraq) experienced a shift from relative affluence to massive poverty. In marked contrast to the situation prior to the events of 1990-91, the infant mortality rates in Iraq became among the highest in the world, low infant birth weight affected at least 23% of all births, chronic malnutrition affected every fourth child under five years of age, only 41% of the population had regular access to clean water, 83% of all schools needed substantial repairs. The Iraqi health-care system approached a decrepit state.
Saddam Hussein cannot be blamed for the results of the sanctions. He can be blamed for not stopping the sanctions. All opportunities to end the sanctions could only be fulfilled if Saddam Hussein resigned as President, an act he was not willing to do.
Saddam's final and greatest failure - The Present War
The almost non-existent effort by the Iraqi army to halt the allied onslaught exposed Saddam Hussein's lack of strategy and military preparation to stop the allied advance. He left his country open to ruin.
If Saddam Hussein knew he had no military potential to prevent Iraq from being overcome by war why didn't he seek an approach that might have prevented an attack?
The Iraqi President had an opportunity to prevent an attack on his country and its eventual occupation. He could have resigned for "reasons of health," which would have allowed a new government to invite the United Nations to supervise inspections and monitor some key activities. He could have pre-empted the planned pre-emptive attack against his country. The opportunity to prevent the war could only be fulfilled if Saddam Hussein resigned as President, an act he was not willing to do.
Saddam Hussein's failures have ruined Iraq. His latest failure to prevent the war has ruined the cooperation between the nations of the world community, the basis for preventing subsequent wars.
april 7, 2003
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