Saddam Hussein Had Oppressed Iraq for More Than 30 Years (NYT Obit)

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The hanging death of Saddam Hussein tonight ended the life of one of the most brutal tyrants in recent history and negated the fiction that he himself maintained even as the gallows loomed— that he remained president of Iraq despite being toppled by the American military and that his power and his palaces would be restored to him in time.

The despot, known universally as Saddam, had oppressed Iraq for more than 30 years, unleashing devastating regional wars and reducing his once promising, oil-rich nation to a claustrophobic police state.

For decades, it had seemed that his unflinching hold on Iraq would endure, particularly after he held on to power through disastrous military adventures against first Iran and then Kuwait, where an American-led coalition routed his unexpectedly timid military in 1991.

His own conviction that he was destined by God to rule Iraq forever was such that he refused to accept that he would be overthrown in April 2003, even as American tanks penetrated the Iraqi capital of Baghdad in a war that has become a bitterly contentious, bloody occupation.

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