[FOUNTAIN]Uneasy lies the headAt first sight, he looked like Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Some people thought he resembled Karl Marx. Others say the picture reminded them of Tolstoy. The face in the internationally broadcast picture is Saddam Hussein’s, when he was captured by U.S. forces.
The well-groomed mustache that had became his signature was no where to be seen, and the untidy beard covering half his face and neck made him look nothing like the former dictator of Iraq. His disheveled hair looked as if it had not been washed for days. On the arch of his left eyebrow was a small but fresh-looking scar. The U.S. forces claim that Saddam was cooperative when captured. But the visible scar in the photo suggests that there might have been some sort of struggle. Saddam returned to the public eyes after eight months in hiding, and he looked exhausted and miserable.
What was he looking at with his blurry eyes? The 66 years that he had fought for survival, success, and power might have passed before his eyes like a flashback.
Saddam’s father died before he was born, and he never knew fatherly love in his poor childhood. He had no one to rely on, and survival itself was the goal of his life. The prime rule of survival was not to trust anyone.
When he turned 19, he participated in the anti-British movement, and soon he realized the art of propaganda and agitation. The nationalist slogans against the foreign rulers were attractive. But Saddam himself never valued ideologies or principles. His only goal was seizing power. Behind the assassination attempt on a prime minister, a British puppet, lay his ambition to stand at the center of a political organization.
At age 42, Saddam blackmailed the president of Iraq and usurped power. He firmly believed that the most effective way to rule the country was a reign of terror. The more he tightened surveillance, the more nervous he grew.
War can unite a country, and Saddam knew how to exploit the way a war can make people forget their harsh lives. In the 24 years of his reign, Saddam fought three wars totaling 10 years. The regime killed tens of thousands of people. Since the days he fought for survival until he was removed from leadership, Saddam could never be at ease. No matter how pitiful he looked in the photo, Saddam Hussein’s real life was certainly more miserable.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.