Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

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Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press

DETERRENCE AND SADDAM HUSSEIN

Hussein and George Bush, therefore, came to this 1990–1991

conflict with different backgrounds and perspectives.

Simply put, George Herbert Walker Bush was born to privilege

and power. His father was a US senator. Saddam Hussein

was born in a poor Iraqi village, and his father died before he

was born. Bush attended Andover Preparatory School and Yale

University. Hussein dropped out of school in his teenage years

and did not finish high school until he was 24. At the time, he

was being sought in Iraq for an attempted killing of the Iraqi

president and was a fugitive living in Cairo, Egypt. Saddam

never earned a college degree, although he attended several law

classes while in Egypt.

The two also differed in other ways. Bush served as a pilot in

the US Navy in World War II, engaged in 58 air combat missions,

and won the Navy Cross for bravery. Saddam Hussein

never served in the Iraqi military, and, when he applied as a

young man, he was denied entry into the Iraq military academy,

one of the few paths available for poor Iraqis attempting

upward mobility.

Bush was widely traveled and had served overseas as US

ambassador to China and later as chief US ambassador to the

United Nations. Hussein never traveled outside the Middle

East. Bush was knowledgeable about the international system

and worldwide threats. He served as director of the Central Intelligence

Agency. Saddam worked exclusively within the Ba’ath

Party, where he first served as an organizer, as a hit man, and

later as the feared head of party security responsible for thousands

of executions.

Bush served in elective politics in the United States, first as

a congressman from Texas, later as chairman of the Republican

Party National Committee, and finally as vice president and

president of the United States. By 1990 Bush already had won

five elections on his way to the top of the US political system.

On the other hand, Saddam Hussein had murdered and terrorized

his way to the top of the Iraqi political system. He had

never won an election until after he seized the presidency in

1978. All political contests thereafter probably were rigged, as

he built a terrorist police state.

His was a fearful and feared regime, and Saddam Hussein essentially

was the sole foreign policy and defense policy decision

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