Saddam’s Delusions

In Foreign Affairs, Kevin Woods, James Lacey, and Williamson Murray present some of the key findings of a study of the Iraqi military based on interviews and internal documents:

Only slowly did Saddam and those around him finally seem to realize that they were suffering a catastrophic military defeat. In the regime’s final days, the only decisive actions those at the top seemed capable of were attempts to stem the flow of bad news. For instance, a Ministry of Defense memorandum dated April 6 told subordinate units, “We are doing great,” and reminded all staff officers to “avoid exaggerating the enemy’s abilities.” By that point, Iraq’s military forces had already collapsed or were collapsing. Coalition attacks had destroyed almost all of the corps and division headquarters, and the few that remained had been rendered ineffective by the furious pace of the U.S. advance. Although some isolated Iraqi units continued to fight, they were no longer connected to a coherent military organization.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Aziz, by then even Saddam had finally accepted that the end was near. On that day, he called a meeting of the Iraqi leadership at a house in central Baghdad. During the meeting, according to Aziz, Saddam’s tone was that of a man “who had lost his will to resist” and “knew the regime was coming to an end.” Later that day, Saddam traveled to another safe house a few miles away (he changed locations every three to six hours). There he met with his personal secretary, his two sons, the minister of defense, and the chiefs of staff of the al Quds Army, the Republican Guard, and the Saddam Fedayeen. It was almost midnight, and according to those present, the combination of some accurate battlefield reports and Western satellite news broadcasts had finally made it impossible to ignore their dire predicament.

Yet Saddam began giving orders to deploy and maneuver formations that had ceased to exist.