Marines.Together We Served

Monday, July 09, 2007

When Character Matters Most

It’s no secret that I love to read.

From time to time I run across a book that I find particularly interesting. I then find myself compelled to share the book so you can benefit from what I’ve enjoyed. The book I’m referring to is,

Saddam’s Secrets:

How an Iraqi General defied and survived Saddam Hussein.

This is an autobiography of Iraqi General Georges Sada. I will admit that I was expecting this three hundred page tome to be nothing but excuses for why he served under so vile a dictator as Saddam Hussein. I was delightfully mistaken!

In the Forward to the book you discover right away why this is no ordinary man. U.S. Air Force Colonel Dave Eberly describes his harrowing ordeal of being the first American pilot to be shot down in the Gulf War. After his capture, he was taken to Baghdad’s infamous Abu Ghraib Prison where he was interrogated and imprisoned. The man who was responsible for preventing Col Eberly’s head from being separated from his body was General Sada.

When Sada first joined the Iraqi Air Force the year was 1958. His father had been career military, so Georges grew up around military air bases and loved airplanes. He would eventually become Iraq’s best pilot. Because Iraq was on friendly terms with Europe and America in those days, Sada assumed that he would have advanced training on both of those continents. Political fortunes, however, changed the landscape of Iraq, and Sada found himself being sent to Soviet Russia for his training.

Make no mistake. This is a man who loves his country, and just like our men and women in uniform, he was prepared to give his life in her defense. Following historical military precedent, Sada chose not to take sides when it came to politics. What sets this man apart from his Iraqi counterparts was his strong faith in God, and his absolute unwillingness to compromise when it came to telling the truth.

Several military coups occurred following 1958. Each time, General Sada would ride out the storm of change, continuing to perform his duties as expected. In 1969, a new leader took over Iraq. This leader had an aide who was determined to eventually be the ruler of Iraq. That aide was Saddam Hussein. It was not until 1979 that Saddam would become President of Iraq. He accomplished this feat by walking into the then current president’s office, pointed a gun at his head, and ordered him to leave the country.

Over the next twenty-odd years General Georges Sada would be retired, brought back on active duty, and retired again, used as an advisor to Saddam Hussein, a successful gentleman farmer, involved in uniting the various religious factions to form the present government in Iraq, and is now heavily involved in helping rebuild the political infrastructure of his country.

What is so fascinating about this story is the courage of one man to face up to one of the most evil men in history and speak the truth. He fully expected to be killed any number of times at the hands of Saddam. Many men were, and Sada will admit that it was only by God’s grace that he was not ignominiously dispatched like the others.

General Sada is an Assyrian Christian. Throughout his career in the military he was constantly urged to join the Baathis political party which was what all the other officers did because Saddam would frequently reward such men for their loyalty to the party. General Sada refused to join this party for two clear reasons: First, the Baathis’ are Arabs. He is not. He’s Assyrian. Second, the Baathis’ are Muslim. Sada is a Christian. Let me be quick to point out that he is not merely a Christian in name only. He takes his faith very seriously. This is why God used him in so strategic a manner.

General Sada was the only man Saddam trusted to tell him the truth. The truth often infuriated him, but he knew that Sada never sugar-coated what needed to be said. For instance, you never hear in our media of the awful plans that Saddam had in attempting to destroy Israel at the outset of the first Gulf War. He wanted ninety-eight jet planes to fly into Israeli territory and drop bombs containing chemical and biological agents. After meeting with all of his military advisors, who, in true sycophantic fashion, told Saddam this would be a rousing success for Iraq, Hussein turned to General Georges Sada and asked what he thought of the plan. General Sada told him in so many words that it would be a disaster.

In this wonderfully refreshing book, Georges Sada addresses all the issues that our media continues to bandy back and forth. What about the WMDs? Wasn’t Iraq better off with Saddam than the current so-called civil war? Shouldn’t American troops be withdrawn? You will read about his defense of a downed British pilot when an irate Qusay Hussein (one of Saddam’s sons) wanted him killed on the spot. He also reports on the question of what happened to downed Navy pilot Scott Speicher. He tells of the barbarity of Saddam, but that Saddam's sons were a hundred times more evil. You will also read his comments about mistakes America and her leaders have made in dealing with Iraq. He speaks as only one can that has lived through the challenges that faced his country. It is true that Sada has been interviewed (on rare occasion) by CNN and FOX News, but our own national nay-sayers will not take this man seriously. It is to our detriment to ignore a man who was willing to place himself in so precarious a position and then live to tell about it. It is worth your time to read this book.

Whether or not you choose to believe this man’s story, you cannot deny his strength of character.

When it’s all said and done, it is character that matters most.

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