Tough talk in Iraq#039;s latest war of words

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 23, 2003

Tribune Staff

&uot;They are a gang of war criminals … international bastards. They lie day and night. They are not human.''

Strong words, no doubt. Words filled with much emotion and hate. Words many people will find offensive.

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However, the three short sentences may well describe how many Americans feel about the Iraqi government led by dictator Saddam Hussein.

And, the facts show such a description would be a fitting one for Hussein and his band of military leaders.

Hussein reportedly has used chemical weapons on his own citizens, utilized torture techniques too gruesome to describe and supported terror groups around the world, including paying cash rewards to the families of suicide bombers.

And, of course, that doesn't begin to describe the years Iraq has deceived and avoided abiding by the United Nations' ban on weapons of mass destruction. Nor does it describe the way in which Iraq invaded and seized its neighbor, Kuwait, in 1990.

Yes, one could easily make the argument that Iraq's current leaders have acted in horrific ways. And calling those leaders non-human, well, it seems to fit, doesn't it?

Oddly, however, those harsh words were spoken Saturday by Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf.

And, despite what many in the West may think, al-Sahhaf was not describing his countrymen, but rather the invading Americans and British.

If American lives were not on the line, al-Sahhaf's words would almost be funny. They are, despite the seriousness of the situation, still quite comical.

It is, as some might say, the pot calling the kettle black.

As Allied forces push deep into the heart of Iraq, destroying any military force Iraq possesses, the band of international war criminals has fallen back on their most annoying weapon -- their foul mouths.

Hopefully, the ongoing military strikes soon will silence Iraq's current regime once and for all.