As the war came to an end and people began to realize they might actually be rid of Saddam Hussein, they began to open up, admitting their fears, their frustrations, and even their shame at what had happened to their country. “The Iraqis,” she observes, “have some intense days of reckoning ahead of them. There has been a very tight lid on that country for 30 years. Now that it’s off, they’re going to have come to grips with the fissures of their so-
ciety. They’re afraid of themselves. Again and again, I heard Iraqis say the same thing I used to hear in the old Soviet Union: ‘We’re an ungovernable mass. We need a strong leader. We need a Saddam.’ ” As happy as some Iraqis were to see their dictator topple, many, including Abu Leith, were shaken by the sight of American troops in their country.