This commentary was found at the end of an otherwise normal review of the documentary Uncle Saddam:
However, Americans, who were led to believe by President George Bush that Iraq would be a cakewalk with ‘liberated’ Iraqis dancing in the streets to welcome the Anglo-Americans axis troops, are looking askance at reports that the Iraqis are actually holding out. It is evident that the Iraqi people, in their time of crisis, have proven to like Saddam and are now rallying behind him against the US-British aggression.
The heroic resistance of the Iraqi people has stunned the West and the Arab world, and all those who believed the battle would end quickly for the benefit of the US and British armies. It is clear that the Iraqi people, whom they wished to liberate, refuse to accept freedom brought to them by the tanks of the occupation forces. Western policy makers miscalculated their strategy and admitted that the time was ripe for Britain and the US to seek an “honorable” solution in the United Nations.
I must have missed the “Aggression Against Iraq” banner at the top of the page on my first reading. In any case, perhaps these folks should read Arab News more often, where this startling report appeared:
When we finally made it to Safwan, Iraq, what we saw was utter chaos. Iraqi men, women and children were playing it up for the TV cameras, chanting: “With our blood, with our souls, we will die for you Saddam.”
I took a young Iraqi man, 19, away from the cameras and asked him why they were all chanting that particular slogan, especially when humanitarian aid trucks marked with the insignia of the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society, were distributing some much-needed food.
His answer shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.
He said: “There are people from Baath here reporting everything that goes on. There are cameras here recording our faces. If the Americans were to withdraw and everything were to return to the way it was before, we want to make sure that we survive the massacre that would follow as Baath go house to house killing anyone who voiced opposition to Saddam. In public, we always pledge our allegiance to Saddam, but in our hearts we feel something else.”
Different versions of that very quote, but with a common theme, I would come to hear several times over the next three days I spent in Iraq.
The people of Iraq are terrified of Saddam Hussein.
I certainly didn’t expect so much resistance and so little uprising by the Iraqi people in this war. But in hindsight, the present situation makes perfect sense. In 1991, we encouraged rebellion… and then allowed Saddam to slaughter and brutalize those who did so. (Wisely I think, we are actively discouraging such rebellion this time around.) And Saddam clearly learned his lesson from 1991, given his present use of the Fedayeen to terrorize the locals into submission — and into fighting. The Iraqi people are — and should be — wary of our invasion until they know we have eliminated the threat from Saddam. Let’s hope they need not be wary for long.