What Saddam Learned From George H.W. Bush

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Why did Saddam Hussein decide to invade Kuwait in 1990? George Piro, the FBI agent who interrogated Saddam for seven months, explains in a new interview:

In the course of several face-to-face discussions, Piro said Hussein also told him that the incident that finally led him to decide to invade Kuwait in 1990 was a personal insult by the emir there.

“What really triggered it for him, according to Saddam, was he had sent his foreign minister to Kuwait to meet with the emir al-Sabah . . . to try to resolve some of these issues. And the emir told the foreign minister of Iraq that he would not stop doing what he was doing until he turned every Iraqi woman into a $10 prostitute. And that really sealed it for him, to invade Kuwait,” Piro said in the interview.

Wow, what a preposterous justification for invading a much smaller country! I wonder where Saddam got the idea such nonsense was acceptable?

Here’s George H.W. Bush speaking on December 20, 1989, seven months before the invasion of Kuwait, explaining why he’d just invaded Panama:

Last Friday, Noriega declared his military dictatorship to be in a state of war with the United States and publicly threatened the lives of Americans in Panama.

The very next day, forces under his command… brutally beat a third American serviceman; and then brutally interrogated his wife, threatening her with sexual abuse. That was enough.

Here’s the Washington Times the next day:

More than anything else, it was a rape threat by Pananamian soldiers to a U.S. naval officer’s wife that triggered President Bush’s decision to oust “Maximum Leader” Manuel Antonio Noriega… She was “sexually harassed” and threatened with rape, the incident that administration officials called the last straw.

The women of America and Iraq are very, very lucky they have men like George H.W. Bush and Saddam Hussein looking out for them.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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