Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Saddm's Secrets

So the most surreal thing happened to me yesterday. I was in the Family Christian Store in Laurel, looking for a book (which they didn't have). I was on my way up to the register to ask if they had it and I just hadn't seen it, when I saw a book entitled "Saddam's Secrets" on their 'special buy' rack. Now, any book about Iraq or the middle east or Saddam catches my eye...but this one made me stop in my tracks.

It was written by a neighbor of mine when I lived there.

Now, normally, that would be an exceptionally good thing...except that General Georges and I didn't exactly see eye-to-eye on a great number of things. I didn't trust him, partly because I felt that my bosses trusted him too much (if he said "don't cook chicken on Thursday - it might be dangerous," we didn't cook chicken on Thursday, and I'm not at all exaggerating, but I think what sticks in my craw most about this aspect is that I felt he was a little too happy to be able to boss around a group of Americans); partly because he'd been high up in Saddam's government, so (regardless of his lack of participation in the Ba'ath party) was not someone to be trusted (the only people who got rich under Saddam were people that Saddam allowed to be rich, and Georges wasn't exactly hurting for cash); and partly because he helped his brother's construction company fleece our organization on a project that I was in charge of. They didn't finish the work and ended up charging us at least twice what we'd originally contracted for. This resulted in my company feeling that all of the projects that I was in charge of were "failures" (yes, that is a direct quote, given multiple times at an all hands meeting), and ultimately (this is the part that really broke my heart) causing them to prohibit me from even visiting the friends that I'd made in that area, muchless completing the projects and being true to my word to those that I'd promised to help.

So, needless to say, I don't exactly have a warm feeling when I think of Gen. Georges.

That's not to say that he didn't do some good things for us too. He's the reason that my boss got to meet and chat several times with Ambassador Paul Bremer. He's the reason that my friends who died two years ago this week were given a memorial service (attended by Amb. Bremer) at the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority - housed in Saddam's main palace, in the "Green Zone"). His position in the CPA, and then in the interim government, helped open doors for my organization - I can't deny that.

...but, there's still not a really warm feeling for him in my heart.

I've only read the first 18 pages so far, although I'm sure I'll finish the book before week's end. I don't know if I, my bosses, our organization, or our projects are mentioned in his chapters on Iraq's rebuilding (I'll let you know, although I doubt it in some ways, and think that it's very likely in others).

Thinking self-centeredly here, did this book appear because God thinks it's time for me to let go of this resentment against Gen. Georges? Did it appear the same week my friends died for a reason? I'm not sure I want to understand Georges better. I want to hang on to that bitterness. I want to revel in the nausea that comes when I realize that Georges, who is already rich, is now getting a little richer because he's published a book and I (of all people) bought it.

But at the same time, for all that I am bitter against Georges, I know that this book speaks the truth about life under and after Saddam, and I want people to know that truth. I've not been given many opportunities to speak about that (I've been trying since I got back a year and a half ago to get a Sunday night time slot at my church, but they keep telling me that calendar's just too full - there's time for a talk about the two-week trip that the pastor (and I, and others) made to Africa, but not time to hear about the 15 months I spent overseas), and some of the people that I have spoken to either a) don't believe me, regardless of what I say; b) hear what they want to hear, regardless of what I say, or c) just don't, despite the bile that rises to my throat when I type this, I tell you, all of my faithful readers....if you really want to know the truth about life under Saddam, during the occupation, and now when the Iraqis are again in control, and you want to hear it from someone who is Iraqi who was both high up in Saddam's regime, and also high up in both the CPA and the current government. If you're not afraid of how the truth might affect your beliefs about the current (and previous) war(s) in Iraq, then read this book.

Here are its particulars:
Title: "Saddam's Secrets: How and Iraqi General Defied and Survived Saddam Hussein"
Authors: Iraqi General Georges Sada with Jim Nelson Black
Publisher: Integrity Publishers
ISBN: 1-59145-404-2
Cover price: $24.99
Family Christian Store price: $19.99 + tax price: $15.74 + shipping


Anonymous said...

Whoo hoo - well when you say you want to hold on to your bitterness, you sound like you're succeeding!

Leia said...

Hrm...well...thanks for the encouragement there....