I have a confession: I agree with something Saddam Hussein said last
week. My guilt is killing me. I haven't slept well. I pick at my food.
I put on socks that don't match my shirt.
It's a terrible thing to agree with Saddam. I'm convinced that he
is indeed, as the unsinkable Molly Ivins so delicately puts it, "a
When somebody's as nasty as Saddam is, I always ask myself this
question: "What would Marlon Brando do?"
Not the Brando of "A Streetcar Named Desire" or "On the
Waterfront." Certainly not the Brando of "Guys and Dolls."
I mean the Marlon Brando of "The Godfather." Don Vito Corleone.
The Mafia guy.
Here's what I'm pretty sure Brando-Corleone would not do: He
would not send several hundred thousand soldiers,equipped with all kinds of
non-discriminating weapons, to take care of one guy, even a guy as nasty
He'd send maybe as many as four or five hit men (including at least
one of his sons) to do the job. I don't even want to think of what they'd
do to Saddam or how they'd do it, but it would be neat and surgical with
no collateral damage, no unintentional deaths. And at least one of them
would come back to Brando and tell himwhile he was tending to his tomato
plantsthat that little matter was taken care of and The Family could get
on with the wedding plans.
Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency.
But that's all a digression. I was talking about having agreed
with Saddam on something. Here's what it was:
When Saddam was talking to Ramsey Clark last week, he said,
according to the A.P., that he can do nothing to keep the U.S. and Britain
from attacking "because President Bush has already made up his mind."
Saddam may be wrong about everything else, but I'm convinced he's
right about this. No matter what he does or doesn't do, President Bush is
going to war against him.
I was convinced of that by what I saw on the Feb. 20 PBS
"Frontline" showthe one sub-titled "The War Behind Closed Doors."
It's about the origin of the Bush policy of pre-emptive
strikesyou know, the sort of thing the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor. The
policy was first proposed in 1991 after the first Gulf War ended before we
could take out Saddam.
That was a big disappointment to the hawkiest members of the Bush
I staffespecially Paul Wolfowitz.
So Wolfowitz came up with a secret policy guideline endorsing
pre-emptive strikes against Saddam and others who might get in our way.
To their credit, Bush I and Colin Powell rejected the policy in
1992, and the Clinton Administration had no use for it, so it went into
the bottom drawer.
The Truth, Mainly
But it came back out when Bush II was elected and hawks like
Wolfowitz, Cheney, and Rumsfeld came back to Washington. After 9/11, they
saw the chance to link Iraq to al-Qaeda, to plug into the national outrage
over the terrorist attacks in order to finish the job on Saddam. Even
though none of the terrorists were Iraqis, even though Saddam, the
secularist, and Osama bin Laden, the Islamic fundamentalist, couldn't
stand each other.
And so President Bush in his first State of the Union address
called our attention to "the axis of evil" which, somehow, in some vague
way which only the initiated could understand, was related to the 9/11
That was 13 months ago, and that, "Frontline" leads me to believe,
is when the president decided we were going to war with Iraq. That's why
I agree with Saddam that nothing he can do will prevent a war because Bush
II has already made up his mind.
It probably also explains why the president gets so cranky when
anyone disagrees with what he's already made up his mind about.
And one more digression:
In last Tuesday's Journal-Star, there's a four-column photo of the
interior of a Baghdad pastry shop. In the background are yellow flowers
and wonderful looking pastries. In the foreground are two pretty Iraqi
women, about the age of my daughter and my daughters-in-law. With them
are a little boy, about the age of my grandson, and two girls, about the
age of my granddaughters.
The story under the photo says that the children are told at
school to "follow teachers' instruction in case of bombing, and practice
ducking under their desks."
You knowas a defensive measure against the near certainty that a
few of our bombs and missiles will go astray to do hellacious collateral
damage to whatever happens to be in their way, even pastry shops and
Anybody have Brando's phone number?
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail