Saddam Hussein: The U.S Portrayal of Evil Encarnate

When Iraq invaded and occupied the country of Kuwait in August 1990, the Bush administration was faced with several dilemmas. From a foreign policy point of view, this action could greatly destabilize the balance of power in a part of the world that was vital to U.S. interests. The United States was dependant on a continuous flow of oil to drive its economic machine, which Kuwait supplied greatly. In addition, this move would put more power into the hands of a government that was not only unfriendly to the U.S., but a sworn enemy of the state of Israel, a strong U.S. ally. In addition to, the fall of communism had created what George Bush had described as, "A new world order," and would become the first major test of how the U.S. would handle its role as the sole remaining super power in this "new world order." There were many challenges facing the Bush administration as to the manner in which they would handle this first major international crisis. The Bush administration had to develop a consensus of the major remaining powers, and appear not acting alone in its response to President Saddam Hussein?s actions of invading Kuwait. They also yearned to keep Israel from being involved so as not to alienate the remaining Middle Eastern nations. Lastly, they faced a domestic dilemma, in that much of the American public had significant reservations about involving U.S. troops involved in a foreign conflict. There remained a bad taste of Vietnam among the American public, and there were very mixed responses to American involvement in Somalia, Nicaragua, and Grenada. For the Bush administration, Hussein was not a merchant who could be bargained with, but rather an outlaw who would have to be defeated by force. The Bush administration was faced with a task of developing (more or less) overwhelming support from the U.S. people to take any action in Kuwait, which was accomplished by a dramatic public relations move to demonize Saddam Hussein in the eyes of the American people.

The task of the United States demonizing Saddam Hussein was facilitated by many factors, both real and imaginary; a mixture of true facts and public relations image making. On the fact side, Saddam Hussein was indeed a dictator, and responsible for some true atrocities. Hussein ruled with an iron fist. Most accounts of political analysts looking at Iraq agree that his rein was one characterized by fear of the state. In her book, The Outlaw State, Elaine Sciolino describes Hussein as "a man who used a combination of terror and reward to break the spirit of his people." Through the use of secret police, the Baath Party and the army, Saddam controlled every aspect of Iraqi life. As one American reporter quoted as driving through Iraq, "From the Saddam International Airport, heading down the Saddam Freeway, past Saddam City and the Saddam Water Purification Plant, we sped by Saddam institutes, Saddam housing estates, Saddam boys? clubs, Saddam sports arenas, Saddam hospitals, Saddam cafes, and, of course, dozens of Saddam billboards, statues, mosaic walls, and monster outdoor portraits." Any opposition to his political views was irraticated. For example, membership in the opposition party ShiaDawa was punishable by death. One of its leaders, IyatollahBaqr al-Sadr, was executed, along with members of his family, by orders from Saddam Hussein. There is significant evidence indicating that Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran during their 8-year war, which is condemned universally by the international community. Hussein is quoted as saying in an interview with Spanish television, "America used nuclear weapons against Japan. Isreal possesses nuclear weapons- you and the whole world know about this. Iraq, therefore, has the right to possess the weapons which its enemy has... America moreover, used chemical weapons against the people of Vietnam. The USSR also used chemical weapons against the people of Afghanistan. So talk about Iraqi use of chemical weapons is insincere and hypocritical." Most accounts of Saddam?s rise to power in his tenure as leader of Iraq indicate that he constantly used murder, torture, lies, and terror to achieve his goals. In addition to these hard facts, his physical characteristics, mannerisms, and someway naive attempts at portraying himself as a great hero and leader (even God-like) made him more susceptible to criticism and contempt by the American people. The