Courtesy Reuters

Understanding Saddam

By John Mueller

To the Editor:

In "The New Politics of Intelligence" (May/June 2004), Richard K. Betts argues that "Saddam's record in obstructing un inspectors and lying throughout the cat-and-mouse inspection game of the 1990s made no apparent sense unless the Iraqis were continuing to hide the weapons." This misses the fact that the security system for Iraq's weaponry and that for Saddam's personal safety were the same. Saddam saw the inspections, at least in part, as something the United States could use to calculate his whereabouts, thus making an assassination by, say, a cruise missile entirely feasible. Consequently, his wariness and duplicity -- especially when inspectors demanded to visit such sensitive places as his palaces and Baath Party headquarters -- are quite understandable.

JOHN MUELLER

Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Policy and Professor of Political Science, Ohio State University

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