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Between Iraq and a Hard Place

On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of Kuwait that ransacked the country, killed scores of innocent people, and destroyed the country's petroleum infrastructure. Eventually bringing together an allied coalition to turn back Saddam's forces and free Kuwait. But how many people actually know the events occurring in Iraq in the year preceding the invasion from inside the ruling party?

I worked as a civilian contractor for close to a year directly for the Revolutionary Command Council, leading a team of Western technicians to modernize banking in the country. On the day of the Kuwait invasion, I, along with hundreds of others were taken hostage as collateral by the Iraqi government. Fearing my own death as well as my immediate colleagues, I led an escape across two deserts five days later to safety in Jordan. I had no previous military training; only the sheer will not to perish as a result of the US government nor forfeit my life for corporate bosses who failed to intervene in any way to help us.

This is the story of what I saw in the year preceding Desert Shield that you never heard nor read about, as well as events that followed at the conclusion of Desert Storm. What life was like for a then peace-loving people, the regime and how it operated, the betrayals, the "Super Gun", Uday Hussein, the gassing of the Kurds at Halabja, the WMD and the destruction of this stockpile by the US military that caused Gulf War syndrome, and the after effects on our troops which the US government denied for years and years. Thousands and their offspring suffer from these results today and will for generations to come.

I never returned to Iraq, but shortly after Desert Storm I did go to perform a similar assignment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia while the oil wells were still on fire in the desert. There, I was also an "insider" to the workings of the government, the attempt to recover the stolen gold, the corruption in the ruling family, the hypocrisy of the country, and the plight of the Palestinian people working and living in the kingdom for backing Iraq in its war with the allies.

Although I waited a quarter of a century to publish this book for fear of retribution for the material in it, I hope this story sheds light on a war and the destruction of a nation and its people that really did not have to be fought at all. I am still traumatized both mentally and physically from the experience and likely will be for the remainder of my natural life. Believe me, it's a lot easier to do in the movies, and it pays a whole lot better! But it also taught me a valuable life lesson: if you think time heals all wounds, it doesn't. That is why they call a scar a scar!

--John Norman



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