Hussein's preference for informal chains of command encouraged a "gossip culture" among close aides, Duelfer found. Decision-making also was hampered by the "growth of a culture of lying," which Duelfer attributes to fear and an inability to achieve results.
Tariq Aziz, a former deputy prime minister, is quoted as asserting that before last year's invasion by U.S.-led forces, Iraqi commanders lied to Hussein about Iraq's preparedness, leading Hussein to badly miscalculate his military's ability to deter an attack. Other former Iraqi officials also are cited saying key commanders overstated their combat readiness and willingness to fight.
Saddam Hussein, shown during a 1998 visit to the northern city of Kirkuk, views himself "as the most recent of the great Iraqi leaders," says the report by Charles Duelfer.
(Iraq News Agency Via AP)
MSNBC Video: The Post's Dana Priest talks about details of Saddam Hussein's personality contained in the report.
AP Report: The top U.S. arms inspector said Wednesday he found no evidence that Iraq produced any weapons of mass destruction after 1991.
_____Today's Post Coverage_____
U.S. 'Almost All Wrong' on Weapons (The Washington Post, Oct 7, 2004)
Hussein Used Oil to Dilute Sanctions (The Washington Post, Oct 7, 2004)
War's Rationales Are Undermined One More Time (The Washington Post, Oct 7, 2004)
Inspector Is Known as Tough, Thorough (The Washington Post, Oct 7, 2004)
Timing of Report Called Inspector's Decision (The Washington Post, Oct 7, 2004)
Many former associates, according to Duelfer, have described Hussein as deeply affected "by a deprived and violent childhood in a village and tribal society bound by powerful mores." Hussein had few friends among top leaders, Duelfer says.
Hussein's deepening seclusion in the late 1990s came in part out of heightened fear of assassination following an attempt on the life of his son, Uday, in December 1996, Duelfer says. Another factor, Duelfer notes, was Hussein's growing interest in writing.
Among Hussein's extensive security measures, Duelfer reports, was the establishment of a laboratory specifically to test the food served him. His construction of multiple palaces also reflected, in part, an attempt to keep himself hidden. It was a manifestation as well of Hussein's "view of himself as the state," Duelfer says.
Even Hussein's senior aides had difficulty locating him at times. Duelfer quotes one former official saying government ministers were picked up and driven to meeting locations in vehicles with blacked-out windows and were never told where they were once they arrived.
According to Duelfer, Hussein had a long view of history and "a strong sense of the glory of a long struggle." He accepted setbacks as "noble challenges to be overcome." He refused, for instance, to admit that Iraq had lost the 1991 Persian Gulf War, in which a U.S.-led coalition ousted Iraqi forces from Kuwait, viewing the conflict as "only a temporary setback," Duelfer writes.
Hussein's view of international affairs was focused on the Arab world, Duelfer says, and that becomes key in understanding his interest in weapons of mass destruction.
Hussein, Duelfer concludes, believed Iraq's possession of such weapons was necessary principally to counter Iran, a longtime enemy. "Secondary considerations," Duelfer adds, "included a desire both to balance Israel and acquire status and influence in the Arab world."
In Hussein's view, Duelfer says, weapons of mass destruction saved Iraq a number of times. During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, chemical weapons had halted Iranian ground offensives. In the 1991 Gulf War, Hussein believed, his potential use of such weapons deterred U.S. and allied forces from pressing their attack beyond the goal of freeing Kuwait.
One of the great puzzles surrounding the disclosure that Iraq had no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction by the time U.S. forces invaded last year is why Hussein would not have revealed that fact. Duelfer suggests an answer by depicting Hussein as engaged in a "difficult balancing act."
On the one hand, Duelfer says, Hussein recognized the need to disarm to achieve relief from U.N. sanctions. On the other, he felt the need to retain such weapons as a deterrent.
"The regime never resolved the contradiction inherent in this approach," Duelfer says.
Hussein's view of the United States was complicated, Duelfer writes. While Hussein "derived prestige from being an enemy of the United States," he also recognized that "it would have been equally prestigious for him" to be a U.S. ally.
Both Aziz and Hussein's former presidential secretary, Abid Hamid Mahmud, have told interrogators that Hussein hoped for improved relations with the United States, Duelfer says. Indeed, in the 1990s, Hussein repeatedly tested Washington's willingness to open a dialogue.
Duelfer reveals that between 1994 and 1998, Duelfer as well as Rolf Ekeus, a former chief U.N. weapons inspector, were "approached multiple times by senior Iraqis with the message that Baghdad wanted a dialogue with the United States and that Iraq was in a position to be Washington's 'best friend in the region bar none.' "
"Baghdad offered flexibility on many issues, including offers to assist in the Israel-Palestine conflict," Duelfer recalls. "Moreover, in informal discussions, senior officials allowed that, if Iraq had a security relationship with the United States, it might be inclined to dispense with WMD programs and/or ambitions."