Saddam Hussein has been held up as the archetypical evil dictator: a man whose tyrannical rule has driven his country into abject poverty; a man who "used chemical weapons on his own people." The Bush administration has asserted that it wants to see a regime change in Iraq. But journalist Sandra Mackey argues that as horrible as Saddam has been, what comes after him could be even worse.
Mackey argues that Iraq is not a nation but a collection of peoples placed within an arbitrary international border. Iraqi people have no sense of country. They are a fractured group. The non-Arab Kurds of the northern mountains hate the majority Arab population, while the Arabs themselves are divided between the powerful Sunni minority of the middle of the country, and the majority Shia Muslims of the southern marshlands.
Any type of power vacuum that would follow Saddam's deposition or death could trigger a major civil war among ethnic groups. It could lead to the creation of another harsh dictator, perhaps even Saddam's son. It could also entice foreign powers like China or Russia to meddle in oil-rich Iraq's affairs, and essentially could de-stabilize the entire region.
This hour, the Bush administration wants Saddam out. But what would come next?
Sandra Mackey, author of "The Reckoning: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein", has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, and several other newspapers
This program aired on May 28, 2002.