What Saddam Learned From George H.W. Bush

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


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.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate