Beyond Saddam: The Arab Trauma

Beyond Saddam: The Arab Trauma

In the Gulf War that Saddam Hussein forced on the whole world it was only natural that the Iraqi president should be portrayed as if he were the essential problem. If Iraq were routed, Saddam destroyed, and the Iraqi military machine demolished— according to conventional wisdom—a new world order could be created in the Middle East and stability restored to the region. But that is not the case.

Saddam Hussein is not the disease; he is only the symptom. With all his brutality, aggressiveness, and tyranny, he expresses a social phenomenon and a historical reality that are much more complex and threatening than the personality of this violent village thug who became a brutal ruler possessing weapons that endanger the region and the entire world. The problem is not Saddam. He is merely its most extreme and radical expression; hence, his personal disappearance—and it is hard to see how he will get out of this war alive—will not solve it. Although the solution of the problem itself is not at hand and is dependent on the outcome of the war, defining it and understanding it are possible and important even now. If we do not understand the problem, we shall end up being disappointed by the results of the war, even if it ends in a crushing victory over Saddam Hussein.

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Duggan | University of California Press Gardels