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Section Gee! | Art Buchwald

Looking for the Real Hussein

November 19, 1998|Art Buchwald

During Desert Storm, I was one of the few reporters to reveal why the United States could not knock off Saddam Hussein of Iraq. The explanation was that everyone in Iraq looked like Saddam, and we couldn't tell one from another.

At the beginning of his regime Hussein was concerned about the possibility of his assassination, so he came up with the idea that every male citizen in the country had to look exactly like him. This included the mustache, the haircut and the black beret.

Men who did not resemble Saddam to the secret police's satisfaction were arrested and sent to work as slave labor in a poison gas factory.

Thus started a long line of Saddam Hussein look-alikes who have been driving the CIA and everyone else crazy.

What makes the story more interesting is that when any two men meet on the street they have no idea which Saddam they are talking to. One could be a citrus grower from Baghdad and another the leader of the country.

From the start, this has been the problem for the United States. If you are going to cut off the head of a snake, which snake are you talking about?

People recently told the story of the time the real Saddam Hussein and an impostor appeared at a rally. The fake Hussein had medals all over his chest. The real Saddam was covered with flies. The people went crazy for the false one--and ignored the real one.

Concerned, Hussein's advisors suggested holding a mustache-measuring contest. The contestant wearing real hair on his lip would be declared the leader. Both men showed up on the platform, and Iraqi barbers took the measurements. The real Saddam won by a hair, and the people burned the false Saddam in effigy.

The question arises, if all the men in Iraq look like Saddam, how do we knock off our Saddam? It remains a secret, but the Air Force is now developing a smart bomb that can tell the difference.

However, there clearly is no sense bombing the hell out of Iraq as long as the real Saddam keeps walking around free and the ersatz ones are hiding in the bunkers.

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