A review of Saddam’s Secrets: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion. By Georges Sada.

Integrity Publishers, 2006.

Georges Sada was a two-star general in Saddam’s military. He was also the air vice marshal, and was put in charge of leading a major aerial assault on Israel using chemical weapons. Fortunately that did not transpire, but one has to ask: Why has such a person written a book like this?

Sada was no ordinary Iraqi military leader. He was an Assyrian, not an Arab. He was a Christian, not a Muslim. Nor was he a member of the ruling Baath party. Yet in spite of his minority status, he quickly rose through the ranks of the military. And his role there was to in fact help change the course of history.

He single-handedly sought to advise Saddam Hussein that a preemptive strike against Israel was not just wrong, but suicide. While all of his fellow military leaders were simply yes-men to Saddam, Sada was the only one willing to stand up to him and speak truth. Of course that cost many thousands of people their lives.

But Sada had a vibrant and personal faith in Christ which saw him through the darkest of times, even when he was imprisoned by Saddam. It was this commitment to faith and to truth that shaped the life of Georges Sada, and much of modern history.

This combination current events, an insider’s knowledge of the mind and workings of a ruthless dictator, and the moving story of a Christian Daniel in a Muslim lion’s den makes for compelling reading.

Indeed, the book is fresh off the press, with events as recent as the London terrorist bombings discussed. Thus what the world has witnessed from afar by television and the media for the past few decades up to today the reader gets to see from a first-hand account.

The rise of Sada through the military, his many standoffs with Saddam (Saddam once told him he had defied him 17 times – he had kept count), his personal intervention to save the lives of 40 coalition pilots taken prisoner during the first Gulf War, and his current work as advisor to the new Iraq are all covered here in depth.

All these features alone make the book a must read. But because of his privileged position inside the top ranks of the Iraqi military, he is also able to shed new light on much debated recent events. For example, what of the weapons of mass destruction that so many critics have claimed never existed? Well they existed alright, and Sada tells us in detail how they were hidden, covered up, and eventually smuggled into Syria.

He chronicles how in 2002 these weapons were smuggled out in commercial 747s and 727s, along with other means, in Syria. Of course some have already said that Sada has no evidence for any of this. So who are we going to believe? Someone who has been there and seen much of it for himself, or those who, simply because of their hatred of the US and the West, will believe anything a dictator tells them?

He also gives us an insider’s account of the oil-for food program. This program was a monumental disaster, with UN corruption equaling that of the dictator. The program simply allowed Saddam to siphon off nearly $2 billion for himself, while leaving the Iraqi people starving.

Then there is the controversy about the invasion of Iraq itself. Sada makes it absolutely clear that this was a most necessary and most welcomed liberation. Iraq under Saddam had become hell, with millions killed and tortured, and the power-hungry ego of Saddam would not have rested till he had mastery over the entire Arab world and had procured and used nuclear weapons to impose his will.

Saddam was simply evil, and only force could and would put an end to his reign of terror. Sada makes it quite clear that the role of the coalition in liberating Iraq was the right, proper and only course of action. Sada chronicles the misery and hardships the people experienced under Saddam. And Sada knew this from first hand experience, having known Saddam even before his rise to power. Saddam was “a genius at doing evil” says Sada, and as one of the worlds’ greatest mass murderers – he killed more Arabs than anyone else in history, for example – he had to be stopped.

Indeed, Sada says the coalition should have finished off the job during the first Gulf War, saving countless lives and freeing Iraq from the hands of this madman. Unfortunately the Iraqi people had to wait another 12 years, and suffer many more horrors.

It was during this period that the route of sanctions simply led to further aggrandizement and consolidation of power for Saddam while his people descended into further deprivation and suffering. Saddam had by the end of the 90s some 68 palaces, and was worth around $10 billion. This came from the pillage of Iraq and from oil money that was meant to feed the people.

All the grizzly details are found in this book: how Saddam deliberately built military command bunkers in secure structures below civilian bunkers, so that civilians would be killed and serve his propaganda purposes. How he bribed many overseas journalists and media personal to tell his version of events. How he would personally watch, and enjoy, the torture and death of his enemies, even suspected enemies.

The bribing and corruption of UN officials is also told in sickening detail. UN members who were meant to be monitoring this whole program were instead taking kickbacks and raking in billions of dollars for themselves, while oil flowed out of the country illegally. The corruption reached to the highest levels at the UN, and Sada believes that one day the oil-for-food program will “prove to be the biggest bribery scheme in modern times”.

The book concludes with the many good things that are happening in the new Iraq, good things that rarely get mentioned in the mainstream media. And it also looks at how the faith of Sada is still bringing peace and life in post-war Iraq. On one occasion Sada noted four youths circling his home, sizing it up for a terrorist attack. His bodyguards chased down the four and brought them to his home. The usual routine would have been for these four to be promptly executed.

But Sada talked to them, forgave them, and let them go. In four hours they returned in tears with their families, thanking him and asking for forgiveness. The four have returned to university and have abandoned their sinister ways. Such is the power of love and forgiveness.

This, concludes Sada, is what Iraq needs more than ever. For forty years Iraqis have only known fear, terror, hatred and bitterness. What Iraq needs now is love and reconciliation. And the life of Sada has been an example of that.

This book then is a powerful volume: it highlights both the depravity and goodness of mankind. And its shows how one person can make a difference, not just in one nation but in the world.

[1177 words]

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