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Inside Saddam Hussein's War Diary: Hot Damn! It's Showtime!
January 17, 2003
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers

Dear Diary: This is a tough one. If I hang in there, I may just survive to carry out my plans. But if I make a wrong move, or misinterpret the wide variety of signals coming my way, I'm vaporized toast.

Oh, I know I could take the advice of some Arab leaders and go into exile, in Lybia or Egypt or somewhere, with tons of money made available to me. If I thought I could do so by setting up a new Iraqi government that the Americans would accept - but which would welcome me back when the time is right, or that I could control from outside the country - I'd probably do it. I don't really want to be nuked in my bunker.

But, God help me, I do get off on this cat-and-mouse game, I really do. It stirs my blood. Most of the time, I'm bored, just raking in the loot, building more palaces, wiping out another corps of officers, target-practicing on some Kurds. It's when the West, and especially the U.S., comes after me that I really enjoy. It's showtime!

It's scary, no doubt about it. No more balancing me off against the Iranians; they want me out of here this time, either by the exile route or by offing me with missiles, incinerating me in my bunker, or an assassin's bullet, purchased for millions of U.S. dollars. There are all too many who would love to do the deed.

Heard this great joke: An American reporter comes to Baghdad and asks people on the street what they think of Saddam Hussein. They all rush away; nobody will talk to him. Finally, one courageous fellow motions to the reporter to wait for him in an alley. The guy looks left and right and, when he sees that nobody is around to overhear, he slips into the alley. "Well," says the reporter, "what do you think of Saddam Hussein?" The man looks around nervously and whispers, "I like him."

So I'm not loved by my citizens. I've been in power this long because they fear me. I know that. They know that if they don't demonstrate total loyalty, they'll be fish bait. But they also see the handwriting on the wall: my time may be running out, the American calvary is riding in, and this time they may get me.

But maybe not. First, there is a worldwide anti-war movement that has affected governments in Europe and elsewhere - even in England, the Americans' one ally. Next, the inspectors aren't finding anything - and they won't; I've had four years to hide the stuff well, all over Iraq, in private basements, mosques, gardens, underground caverns, in berms along river banks, etc. They'd have to be here for a dozen years and, unless someone were to blab - that's why we've got to prevent the inspectors from taking our scientists and their families abroad - they'd still find nothing.

But the U.N. inspectors are my human shields. As long as they're here working - thinking they'll maybe find something - the Americans and their lackeys can't start the bombing campaign. So let the inspectors stay. We'll dump another 12,000 documents on them; who cares if those pages don't contain the full information they requested? It keeps them busy and gains me more time to figure out what to do next.

My worry is that Bush is so frothing at the mouth, like an enraged bull, that he'll do what his daddy did: warn the inspectors to get out immediately and then start the assault. And then it might be too late to arrange an escape.

My problem is that I've met someone bloodthirsty and lunatic. He's willing to risk the well-being of his country and countrymen. He doesn't care how many civilians and troops die. He loves the oil under our land. He sees himself as a savior of this part of the world - hell, the whole world. He believes he's doing God's will. Am I looking into a mirror, or does George W. Bush bear a striking resemblance to me?

So, bring it on, Mr. Bush. I can take it. Mess with me, and you'll live to regret the day you tried to finish me off. The Muslim nation will rise up in righteousness against you. You, the great Satan country, will find yourself totally isolated in the world - not even your puppet, England, will back you any longer - and suicide bombers, or agents carrying biological timebombs, will enter your cities at will, wreaking havoc worse than you can even imagine.

If I die, I die. I'll become a Muslim martyr (even though I don't believe any of that stuff), and my name will be honored throughout the nation of Islam forever. Or, if it has to come to it, I'll live out my life in luxurious exile somewhere, and re-emerge later. Either way, I can't lose. Only America can lose.

Bernard Weiner, a playwright and poet, authored Inside Saddam Hussein's Diary: "I Don't Have to Show You No Stinkin' Anything!" last August. He is co-editor of The Crisis Papers, and was a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 20 years.

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