The Horrors of "Peace"
From the March 10, 2003 issue: Saddam's victims tell their stories.
by Stephen F. Hayes
03/10/2003, Volume 008, Issue 25
"Do you know when?" It is the question on all minds these days--those of stockbrokers, journalists, financiers, world leaders, soldiers and their families. When will the United States lead a coalition to end Saddam Hussein's tyranny over Iraq?
The answer matters most to the tyrant's subjects--like the man who asked the question of his friend in an early-morning phone conversation on Monday, February 24. The call came from Nasiriyah, in southern Iraq, to the home of an Iraqi exile in suburban Detroit.
It used to be that Iraqis trapped inside their country would speak to each other and to friends outside in veiled language. For years, Saddam's regime has tapped the phone lines of all those suspected of disloyalty, so an inquiry about the timing of a possible attack would be concealed behind seemingly unrelated questions. On what date will you sell your business? When does school end? When are you expecting your next child?
But few Iraqis speak in puzzles anymore. They ask direct questions. Here is the rest of that Monday morning conversation:
"Do you know when?"
"I'm not sure."
"Are you coming?"
"Yes. I am coming. We will . . . "
The second speaker, an Iraqi in Michigan, began to provide details but quickly reconsidered, ending his thought in mid-sentence. He says he was shocked by the candor coming from Iraq. "Never in the history of Iraq do people talk like this," he said later.
"Why are you silent?"
"I'm afraid that you'll be in danger."
"Don't be afraid. We are not afraid. This time is serious."
"I am coming with the American Army."
"Is there a way that we can register our names with the American forces to work with them when they arrive? Will you call my house at the first moment you arrive? I will help."