Bullies almost always become bullies because they have something to hide. Often what they are hiding is a great fear of the very thing over which they appear most courageous.
Saddam Hussein bullied to hide his fear of death; he killed because he knew he would otherwise be killed. Later he killed for pleasure, as an inexpensive way to remind his public of who held all power. Killing became his signature, a mark he then passed on to his sons.
Uday and Qusay killed out of birthright: they did it for sport and entertainment, and eventually to satisfy their deepest sadistic yearnings as the drug-addled monsters they were – but they were bullies of a different sort from their father. Bullydom had been laid on them, trained into them; whereas Saddam, who was raised by his mother, fell on bullying as a type of currency.
While his bully boys were enjoying their heyday, sponsoring events in which contestants would deliberately run themselves through with a long sword, then bow and exit the stage to the applause of the boys – and if the boys did not applaud, the contestant would be returned for a second stab, Saddam Hussein fell into the slow decline of an aging bull. He spent more time alone with his thoughts, listened with less interest to his advisors, wrote novels, heard what he wanted to hear and was completely out of touch with reality in a delusional world managed by a small inner circle, the Howard Hughes of Baghdad.
His sons died the way they lived. Saddam lived the way he lived. In hiding.
There are ways to lay low, and ways to lay lower, but never before has a hole been laid so low for the inhabitation of a human. Lying on his back, hours, days at a time in a place no prisoner would be made to go, Saddam went willingly into an oven, a poorly oxygenated place where his own spilled urine ammoniated rapidly, both replacing air with ammonia and calling flies to the presence of food.
Hiding in a hole, Saddam had already lost everything: his power and throne, his fortunes and family, his freedom, his legacy, his dignity, and finally even his manhood, all to escape the one thing that always scared him most: Death.
Bullies who live long enough will see themselves exposed as the cowards and frauds they always were. It happens as teeth are lost. Some bullies, like Napoleon are left as an island; others, like Hitler, run away like little scaredy cats back to whatever demons sent them forth in the first place.
For Saddam, it’s already finished. He is therefore at the perfect moment in life. He will likely spill all he knows in a book deal, laying out a rather sleepy history of a country in exile that was the object of great speculation of which he was barely aware.
Sometimes, maybe even usually, things are just as they appear. Personalities are easier to read than satellite photos. Bullies are easy calls because their behavior follows rigid patterns.
Even bullies like George Bush and Osama bin Laden are easy to predict. Post you later. CW