When a tyrant says he wants to kill you, believe him

The writer and commentator Douglas Murray (who was Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion and is now a fellow of the Henry Jackson Society), is an amazingly forthright and courageous defender of Israel who frequently writes columns and opinion articles in the press which put all Israel’s Hasbara people into the shade. A wonderful video of Murray, speaking last March at the Cambridge Union, has suddenly been making the rounds and “gone viral” on the internet.  Even though his speech is almost a year old it is as relevant today as it was then – possibly even more so. Watch it and be inspired. (h/t Melanie Phillips via Elchanan).

The sentiments expressed in this video tie in very clearly with an interesting article on Jewish Ideas Daily entitled Listening to Saddam.

A new book, The Saddam Tapes: The Inner Workings of a Tyrant’s Regime 1978-2001, based on transcripts of conversations between Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and his inner circle, provides a disconcerting look at the “rationality” of another regime with nuclear ambitions.  Culled from thousands of hours of tape recordings captured by American forces, augmented by analysis from the Institute for Defense Analyses, the book addresses several issues relevant to Iran, including Saddam’s views of the United States, Israel, and weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iran-Iraq relations and first Gulf War.  The book also allows us a view of the Saddam regime’s grasp of reality—and, by extension, that of Iran’s theocrats.

In some ways Saddam, secularist and Arab nationalist, contrasted profoundly with Iran’s current theocratic leaders; but there are ominous similarities.  For Saddam as for the mullahs, Israel was the “one who raped our land,” the “despised entity,” the entity “rejected by humanity and by the nation.”  Zionists, Israelis, and Jews were undifferentiated.  Saddam thought the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were to be carefully studied as an invaluable historical record of the global Jewish Zionist conspiracy.  He believed Israel was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.  Zionists were responsible for reviving Pharaonic civilization in Egypt and Phoenician civilization in Lebanon in order to “break up the fabric of Arab nations.”  For Saddam, anti-Semitism was not simply an expedient or cover but a central organizing principle of life and thought.

Saddam saw himself as a world historical figure, a revolutionary leader with a unique destiny—yet he was also conspiratorial, egotistical, ill-informed, fundamentally Muslim, and irretrievably anti-Semitic.  In different ratios, these features also describe the Iranian leadership.  Their self-concept is no less revolutionary than Saddam’s, and their goals are no less grandiose: resisting America’s “global arrogance,” driving it from the Gulf and Middle East, restoring Iranian and Muslim honor, and creating a “world without Zionism.”

Which brings us to the weapons of mass destruction, which Saddam appears to have considered at two levels.  Against Kurds and Iranians, chemical and biological weapons were practical tools of warfare and mass murder.  Against Israel and the United States, the issue was at one time primarily deterrence: “Without such deterrence,” he said, Iraq and the “Arab nation will continue to be threatened by the Zionist entity.”  But with Israel and America deterred, Saddam could wage bloody attritional warfare to “liberate” Arab lands.

The 1991 Gulf War changed his thinking.  In January of that year, as the war raged, Saddam ordered chemical and biological warheads prepared for use against Saudi targets.  “Also, all the Israeli cities,” he added, “all of them.  Of course you should concentrate on Tel Aviv, since it is their center.”  Thankfully, the order to fire never came.

His visceral anti-Semitism—not merely suspicion regarding Israel as a regional hegemon or concern for the Palestinians—was profound.  The same is indisputably the case with Iran.  Whether this is defined as rational or irrational is irrelevant.  The important thing is to take it seriously.

International protests against the Iraq war were fueled by indignation that the war was based on a lie, that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. But as we have seen, Saddam indeed possessed them in the past and there was no reason to think, after all his bombast, that he didn’t still possess them.   It is still reasonable to assume that he shipped the WMD out of Iraq while the allied forces were still grouping.

For the anti-war protestors to claim that war on Iran would be based on similar “lies” would be absurd and morally wrong. They should listen to Douglas Murray again.

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12 Responses to When a tyrant says he wants to kill you, believe him

  1. debiz_seo says:

    WOW …… That was some excellent speaking by Douglas Murray.

  2. Rob Harris says:

    Excellent speech by Douglas Murry. He hit the nail on the head, revealing the absurdity of others, including one rank apologist in British diplomatic circles, of which there are many. His parallel of the Yom Kippur war was very interesting, an dit is quite shocking that European countries wouldn’t aid the US airlift at all. One thing I would disagree with only slightly (because it is still partly correct) is his assertion that those that would condemn Israel, would say “thank God for Israel” in private after a strike. I firmly believe many who bend over backward to defend Iran in the West actually want them to visit a nuclear holocaust on Israel because the very same people clearly want to demonise and defame Israel out of existence even if they do not say so explicitly.

  3. cba says:

    Brilliant, brilliant, brillinant! I literally sat at my computer and applauded at the end.

    Rob, regarding the “thank God for Israel,” I took him to be referring to the countries in our neighbourhood, not in Europe or the States.

    What those Jew-haters in Europe and the States don’t realise is, once (God forbid) Iran was finished with Israel they would move onto other targets. As Churchill said about appeasers and crocodiles…

  4. Leslie Greenberg says:

    I have no doubt that every other Arab country would secretly like Israel to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities, in order to spare their own fate at the hands of Iran. I would think that most of the thinking world would not welcome the success of Iran’s nuclear aspirations since they would also be vulnerable. Of course, then they would all like Israel to disappear…

    After the Gulf War (Desert Storm), Dick Cheney sent a note to the Israeli PM, thanking Israel for destroying the Iraqi nuclear reactor 10 years previously. In October of 1991, he made those remarks public when he addressed the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). At the time of the attack, Reagan was persuaded by his ambassadors in the Arab countries to decry Israel for its actions, against his personal beliefs. That’s par for the course in Israel.

    As a footnote not related to the current topic, the last plane to return to base after the bombing of the Osirak nuclear reactor, was piloted by the youngest member of the team, Ilan Ramon, who later died in the explosion of the Columbia Space Shuttle.

  5. RobRob says:

    Agree with all the commenters here. What a fantastic speech. Inspiring, in fact, and I wouldn’t say that often. Thanks, Anne, for posting.

    I did not realise the Americans prevented Israel from taking pre-emptive action. I thought they were really taken by surprise.

    A propos, I recall reading – and I don’t remember the source, but I think it was a reliable Israeli journo – that so parlous was Israel’s position in 1973 that Golda Meir was seriously considering invoking the nuclear option.

    • anneinpt says:

      RobRob, you’re correct about Israel’s dire situation in 1973. It was Moshe Dayan who told Golda Meir that “The Third Temple is in danger”, referring to the the Third Commonwealth, i.e the modern State of Israel. That is when Golda Meir gave the order to arm nuclear missiles in order to persuade the Americans to airlift equipment and arms.

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  7. Rob says:

    Sorry, it’s just Rob, not RobRob. My bad.

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