Tired of all the “he said/she said” revolving around Saddam Hussein and his inner sanctum? Wouldn’t it be great to have been a fly on the wall at Saddam’s meetings? As second best, wouldn’t it be nice to have access to his archive of documents?
Well now both of these options are available to researchers thanks to the 20 transcripts and documents that were released on October 25, 2011, at an event at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC. The treasure trove can be accessed on line at the CWIHP Digital Archive.
When American forces invaded Iraq in 2003 they captured an archive of documents and recorded meetings that provide a bird’s eye view of Saddam Hussein’s inner sanctum.
A very small portion of the collection of documents detailing conversations between Saddam Hussein and his generals and officials during the Iran-Iraq War has just been released.
I haven’t had a chance to go through the documents yet. But, according to The New York Times
. . . the transcripts depict a leader who was inclined to see enemies everywhere, who often displayed a shallow understanding of diplomacy outside the Middle East, and who harbored grand ambitions for his country but was prone to epic miscalculations.
Here are just three points drawn from the documents as related by the Times report:
- Mr. Hussein so underestimated Iran’s military that he wrongly assumed Iran’s initial airstrikes in the Iran-Iraq War had been carried out by Israeli warplanes.
- Saddam felt so threatened by the rise of fundamentalist Islamic groups that he discussed his desire to “trick” the public into thinking that his government, too, endorsed Islamic values.
- Mr. Hussein feared that the Soviet Union wanted to keep the Iran-Iraq War going to distract Iran from helping Muslim fighters in Afghanistan and the Soviet Republics.
It’s been said that the released archives are the Iraqi version of the Oval Office tapes that help bring down President Richard Nixon. At the very least, the documents shed new light on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and his mindset as a leader.
Some more resources on Iraq are listed below.
The history of the Persian Gulf War has been well documented, but the release of declassified transcripts of Saddam Hussein’s deliberations on Feb. 24, 1991, the first day of the Persian Gulf land war, provides gripping new details.
The New York Times has published an interactive guide to the archives called Archive Offers Rare Look Into Hussein’s Private Ruminations. You’ll want to check it out.
I hope you’ll take the time to go to the links and discuss your reactions to the documents and transcripts in comments area below.