Iraqi citizens victims, not enemies

By Cyrus Moussavi 2005

People living in a free country their entire lives find it hard to imagine life any other way. That’s why most citizens of the United States have trouble imagining why the people of Iraq would re-elect Saddam Hussein.

Many Americans reason that if Iraqi people didn’t want Hussein as their president, they simply wouldn’t vote for him. Since he won the 1995 elections with 99.96 percent of the vote, it must mean that the people of Iraq love the guy.

That is very hard to believe considering Hussein’s record for killing his own citizens. Hussein has led the country into war twice since 1979, resulting in millions of casualties. Iraq has accumulated over $75 billion in debt during Saddam’s reign, and the per capita income averages to about $710 a year.

Obviously, living conditions in Iraq are not ideal; in fact, they barely count as livable.

Because of these and many other direct attacks on basic human rights, the people of Iraq despise Saddam Hussein more than Americans hate Carrot Top. This is where the difficult questions come in. If life in Iraq is so hard and Iraqis hate Saddam, why is there no revolution, or why don’t they just impeach the guy?

If an Iraqi citizen heard this question from a stranger, they would probably laugh out loud, state how much they love Saddam and how much he has done for them and then change the subject. People in Iraq, and in many other countries being run by a dictator, are afraid to say or do anything that might sound anti-government because if the wrong person heard, it would be grounds for the government to machine-gun their family.

During the summer I spent time in a county in a situation almost identical to Iraq’s, and almost everybody I knew told me how horrible and unfair their government was. When I asked people why they didn’t do anything about ti, they just laughed at how naive I was.

By the time my trip was over, though, I realized why no one had the guts to stand up to the government. Imagine 20 people revolting with what weapons they had (i.e. sticks and shoe soles) against 100 of the angry, mustachioed machine-gun wielding police who constantly patrol the streets.

So when Saddam gets 99.96 percent of the vote in Iraq, it’s not because he is a great and widely popular leader. It’s because that other .04 percent of the population were either dead before the vote or definitely dead and/or missing important limbs after the vote. And when people justify a war with Iraq in which millions of Iraqi citizens could be killed by reasoning that the Iraqis knew what they were getting into by voting for Saddam, they are sadly mistaken.

And the people who will really pay the price for this mistake don’t have a say in the matter either way.

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