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Hume Horan on Saddam


Hume Horan, perhaps the most talented State Department Arabist in a generation, continue to ring true.  He succumbed to cancer less than a month after the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq.  Below are thoughts he sketched out in a November 2003 e-mail:

On Muqtada al-Sadr: “Arrest him, anytime, anyplace, as soon as possible. No matter what. His expanding thuggishness reinforces Iraqis’ belief that we tolerate him because he divides the Shi‘ites, and thus leaves us masters of Iraqi politics and of Iraqi oil. Otherwise how could the greatest power in the world, which destroyed Saddam’s mighty army, shrugged off Arab rage and the opposition of its European allies, not respond to al-Sadr’s provocations? Al-Sadr has money, and many ruthless supporters; if he continues unchecked, July 1 [2004] might set off a gang war between rival militias.”

On Saddam Hussein: “I bet every Iraqi politician (outside of the Sunni triangle) prays that we catch Saddam, before July 1 [2004]. So long as his pug marks can be seen in the morning around our campfire, Iraqis will not sleep soundly. And for too many reasons to enumerate, he must be killed. No Iraqi legal system could cope with Saddam alive. We can pooh-pooh the likelihood of his ever making a comeback. But just that simple word ‘comeback’ must bring on a fainting spell for the likes of Governor [Iskandar] Witwit [of Hillah], who saw his brother’s head hacked off in front of him.”

Transfer of Sovereignty: “I don’t know whether the Iraqis will be ready for independence. But after July 1, we’ll honestly be able to say to ourselves, and to the world, that we left Iraq freer than we found it, that we showed an altruism that may be incomprehensible to the peoples of the Middle East, and that we gave the Iraqis a new chance to plot their destiny and make their own mistakes.”


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