Newspaper Articles Comparison
The subject of the three articles that I chose for this project is Saddam Hussein’s speech in which he commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Gulf War. The first article was David Hirst’s “Resurgent Saddam awaits Bush junior” published in The Daily Star. Hirst points out that Saddam Hussein has been investing heavily in military infrastructure in order to rebuild his military capabilities since his defeat in the Gulf War. The speech, Hirst argues, is worth considering for several reasons. First of all, it coincides with the election of George W. Bush as president of the US, especially that George Bush Senior was the leader of the ally that defeated Iraq in the civil war. Furthermore, the commemoration of the event was only two weeks following the New Year huge military display of Hussein’s military capabilities. Most of these capabilities were built in defiance of the embargo and sanctions imposed on Iraq. Hirst expresses mixed feelings in his articles, first when he describes Saddam Hussein as a usurper of the presidency in Iraq, and secondly when he reflects admiration of a man who has boastfully managed to survive despite the many disasters that plagued him over the past ten years. In fact, Hirst points this out saying, “He [Hussein] is seemingly indestructible.”
The second article, “Iraq still prominent, Hussein Asserts” by Howard Schneider for the Washington Post also covers Hussein’s speech in a very extensive manner, dominated by quotes from this speech. The article also describes the relationship between Hussein and his neighbors. Schneider’s article, however, is different from Hirst’s in two ways. First of all, it contains less of the author’s opinion, and tends to be more focused on the content of the speech rather than on its meanings. Moreover, Schneider offers a piece of information that is not discussed by Hirst, namely that Saddam Hussein may be expressing power in order to combat the rumors that he is dying of cancer and that he has suffered a stroke recently
The third article, “Saddam rewrites Gulf War history in TV speech” was by Greg Myre for Arizona Daily Star. In this article, Myre considered the speech as a display of power through which Saddam Hussein was trying to “score propaganda points against the United States,” especially in reference to Hussein’s declaration that he was planning to donate $95 million to the poor children of America, at a time when Iraq’s economy was in turmoil and thousands of its children were dying every year.
The first aspect of comparison is the title of the articles. The titles used by Hirst and Myre involve personal emotion whereas Schneider’s title is quite neutral. Hirst’s “Resurgent Saddam awaits Bush junior” pictures and foresees a potential challenge where Saddam Hussein intends to settle scores with the son of his old foe. Myre’s title, “Saddam rewrites Gulf War history in TV speech” is very dramatic because it foresees potential problem fermenting in the region at the hand of the man who had written history through war and destruction before. But at the same time, the title also involves mockery at Saddam Hussein and his empty threats about starting a new war and lies about his alleged victory during the Gulf War.
With respect to content, all three authors took liberty quoting many lines from Hussein’s speech, particularly those lines in which Hussein issued violent threats against Israel. In general, the three authors expressed similar information and analysis, and all of them were more or less reluctant to give final opinions on whether the threats were just talk or for real, probably because they have long known Saddam Hussein to be a very unpredictable decision maker. Furthermore, the three authors seem to be in agreement that Saddam Hussein, at least to a certain extent, has the right to be boastful since he is about to survive the third US president following Iraq’s defeat in 1991.
Still, other attitudes can be deduced from the three articles. Greg Myre is quite biased against the judgment of the Iraqi leader and mocks his “rewriting Gulf War history in TV speech” in a manner that aims at showing how helpless Hussein is. Writing for the widely-read Washington Post, Howard Schneider, exercises more self-restraint in his content as he did in the title, mostly sticking to the facts and avoiding making judgments, leaving it to the leader to judge the dramatic – if not lunatic – excerpts of the speech. David Hirst’s article, on the other hand, although classified as an opinion editorial, contains as little opinion as the others. This is due to three reasons: the unpredictability of Saddam Hussein, the policy of the Lebanese newspaper at a time when economic relations between Lebanon and Iraq are improving, and the reluctance of the newspaper to pass an early judgment on an issue whose scope has not yet been defined. The ambiguity of the scope of the speech and its resonance could perhaps be the main reason for which all three authors avoided passing judgments.
Conclusion and Wrap Up:
Eleven years ago, Saddam Hussein marched forces in the streets of Baghdad and threatened to strike Israel. Although his words were taken for granted by the media as propaganda, less than a year later, he had drowned the world and the region in a massive and destructive war. Today, similar threats are made by the same person who has survived all kinds of sanctions, rebuilt his power and continued to express aggressive threats. However, in the three articles that were discussed, none of the authors dared to pass a direct judgment on whether the drums of war were being heard again.