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Panorama
Lessons to be learned
Saddam Hussein

On Panorama, I shall be examining what lessons we can draw from Saddam Hussein's past conduct in order to discover what he is likely to do now, as the United States seems more and more determined to get rid of him.

I'm going to look at the way Saddam has dealt with crisis after crisis since he took power in Iraq twenty-three years ago, and the way he has succeeded in manipulating his image in order to keep his power and protect his life.

We trace his use of doubles, and examine his qualities as a decision-maker.

How could someone who made so many strategic errors - invading Iran, for instance, or attempting to swallow up Kuwait - be so clever that he has managed to stay in power when all his old opponents in the West, from George Bush senior and Margaret Thatcher to John Major and Bill Clinton have all vanished from the international scene?

Go down fighting

I first visited Iraq in 1986, and spent nearly six months there immediately before, during and after the Gulf War from 1990-91.

It, and its leader Saddam Hussein, have dominated much of my professional life in that time, and I have watched him survive crisis after crisis with his instinct for wrong-footing his opponents.

Yet he is no longer a survivor or a deal-maker; this time, he knows, he is facing not just defeat but death. Everyone we have interviewed who knows him believes he will go down fighting, rather than sue for peace.

And it seems likely that the executioner will be an Iraqi, rather than an American; Saddam knows he is surrounded by men who would like to kill him.

Fascinating

One such man is his former head of military intelligence, who escaped to Britain when he realized that Saddam was conducting yet another cull of the senior military elite, and that he was likely to be next.

This is a fascinating story of the exercise of power in one of the world's nastiest dictatorships, and of where it is likely to lead us all.

Saddam - a warning from history


Background



IN DEPTH
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