No Dictator, No Allegiance
The turning point.


In my other life, when I was a general serving under a Communist dictator, I had to swear allegiance to the dictator alone, by name — not to the country of Romania. That was the case under Stalin, under Hitler, and is now under Saddam Hussein. When the Romanian dictator fell, the allegiance of his security and military forces came to an abrupt end, and so it will be with the Iraqis.

Consider what happened to my daughter, as Romanian Communism began to fall apart at the seams. I had been forced to leave her behind when I broke with Communism in 1978, and as a result, she and her husband became one of the Securitate’s top targets, in an effort to deter other high-ranking government officials from defecting. The two of them were constantly interrogated and kept under ostentatious lock-step surveillance around the clock for eleven years. During the night of December 21, 1989, when Ceausescu ordered the arrest of political dissidents, a Securitate team snatched them from their house and drove them off toward the Bulgarian border, giving them to understand that their dead bodies would be dumped at the border to show they had been trying to escape illegally. Miraculously, just as they were approaching the border, the car radio blared out a Radio Bucharest announcement that Ceausescu had fled and his office had fallen into the hands of rebels. In a flash, the two dozen Security escorts ditched their cars, shed their uniforms, dumped their weapons, and ran off like rats deserting a sinking ship. When my daughter and her husband made it back to Bucharest, they found that the Securitate guard car that had always been stationed outside their house had also been abandoned, with the files on their case still lying on the seat.

The clincher came for the whole Romanian population a few days later, when local television broadcast a lurid picture of the tyrant and his hated wife lying in a pool of blood. The brutal Securitate, which had killed thousands of innocent citizens, instantly collapsed, and the people felt free to breath again.

If history is any guide, the allegiance of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guards and fedayeen will also evaporate into thin smoke at the sight of his dead body. Soon afterwards, the ravenous Iraqi people will be able to use the unique riches of their country to build a new life for themselves. My formerly oppressed fellow Romanians, who had been reduced to a starvation diet under Ceausescu, did just that — now their country has even been invited to join NATO.

— General Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc. He is currently finishing a new book, Red Roots: The Origins of Today’s Anti-Americanism.