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Saddam's Heroes

Saddam's Heroes

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Published by Don Gomez
This research explores the Iraqi military experience before and after the Iran-Iraq War and the Invasion of Kuwait. Particular attention is paid towards state-constructed nationalism, the soldier’s experience of war, and becoming (or failing to become) veterans. Based on a reading of available material and interviews with Iraqi veterans, the research reveals a ‘war generation’ filled with anger and despair over their ‘lost youth.’ The crushing defeat of Iraq during the Gulf War, the collapse of the armed forces, and a handicapped economy provided Saddam’s regime with the political cover to ignore the needs of the war generation. Veterans’ benefits were largely nonexistent. Pride in military service disappeared and veteran communities never formed. This research suggests that the war generation continues to struggle with their memories of war and their participation in the longest war of the twentieth century.
This research explores the Iraqi military experience before and after the Iran-Iraq War and the Invasion of Kuwait. Particular attention is paid towards state-constructed nationalism, the soldier’s experience of war, and becoming (or failing to become) veterans. Based on a reading of available material and interviews with Iraqi veterans, the research reveals a ‘war generation’ filled with anger and despair over their ‘lost youth.’ The crushing defeat of Iraq during the Gulf War, the collapse of the armed forces, and a handicapped economy provided Saddam’s regime with the political cover to ignore the needs of the war generation. Veterans’ benefits were largely nonexistent. Pride in military service disappeared and veteran communities never formed. This research suggests that the war generation continues to struggle with their memories of war and their participation in the longest war of the twentieth century.

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Published by: Don Gomez on Oct 11, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/22/2014

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Saddam’s Heroes:Iraqi experiences as soldiers and veterans byDon GomezThis dissertation is submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies of the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London).
Word Count: 9,968
 
Table of Contents
Abstract
3
Chapter I - Introduction
“Carrying the Gun” 3Studying Iraq, war, and warriors: significance and limitations 4Plan of thesis 6
Chapter II - Literature Review
Anthropology of war 7Militarization, citizen-making, and “serious talk” 9
Chapter III - Iraqi Soldier, Iraqi Veteran
Background 13Building an army, building a nation 15War with Iran 19Victory, failed demobilization, and the invasion of Kuwait 24Becoming veterans 27Saddam’s Heroes 31
Chapter IV - Conclusion
34
Appendix 
A note on the interviews 37
Bibliography
38
2
 
Abstract
This research explores the Iraqi military experience before and after the Iran-Iraq War and the Invasion of Kuwait. Particular attention is paid towards state-constructed nationalism, the soldier’s experience of war, and becoming (or failing to become) veterans. Based on a reading of available material and interviews with Iraqi veterans, the research reveals a ‘war generation’  filled with anger and despair over their ‘lost youth.’ The crushing defeat of Iraq during the Gulf War, the collapse of the armed forces, and a handicapped economy provided Saddam’s regimewith the political cover to ignore the needs of the war generation. Veterans’ benefits were largelynonexistent. Pride in military service disappeared and veteran communities never formed. Thisresearch suggests that the war generation continues to struggle with their memories of war and their participation in the longest war of the twentieth century.
Chapter I - Introduction
“Carrying the gun”
In a national radio address designed to raise public morale a few years into the Iran-IraqWar, President Saddam Hussein lauded the “heroic, modern Iraqi man” who “...proved to beloyal ... by carrying the gun in defense of Iraq...” (Workman, 1994: 150). Those who “carried thegun” were supposed to be national heroes. In his speeches, Saddam reserved special recognitionfor the fighting men, and the veterans.Between 1980 and 1988, Iraq engaged in near total war with Iran. Men were drafted,hurriedly trained, sent to the front, and if lucky, released back into society as veterans, many withlifelong physical or mental injuries. Whether he knew it or not, Saddam built what Faleh Jabar calls a ‘war generation’ (2004). An entire generation whose lives intertwined with a devastatingeight year war with Iran, a hasty invasion of Kuwait and a crushing defeat at the hands of the USand Coalition forces.
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