Navigate to News section

What’s ‘Saddam’ Spelled Backwards?

New files show Hussein’s paranoia regarding Israel

Marc Tracy
October 25, 2011
Saddam Hussein standing trial in 2006.(Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
Saddam Hussein standing trial in 2006.(Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

New documents taken possession of after the Iraq invasion are providing an unprecedentedly close look at the decisions, life, and mind of late dictator Saddam Hussein. And the leitmotif, alternately grim and darkly humorous, is that Hussein believed Israel to be behind everything—even the stuff they didn’t do!

• When Iran launched its first air strikes in 1980 to kick off the decade-long Iran-Iraq War, Hussein insisted to his advisers, “This is Israel.” It wasn’t.

• Hussein worried that Israel would attack his nuclear facility at Osirak. Less than a year later, Israel did.

• To protect that facility, he had it fortified with many sandbags. The sandbags were no match for Israel’s, er, bombs.

• Hussein’s paranoia led him to execute the Iranian journalist Farzad Bazoft for allegedly spying for Israel, a fiasco that led to Britain’s withdrawing its ambassador and, indirectly, the first Gulf War.

• “Once Iraq walks out victorious, there will not be any Israel,” Hussein said. “Technically, they are right in all of their attempts to harm Iraq.” No word on whether Israel has accepted the dead man’s vindication as a compliment.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.