Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
The editors of this volume have worked intimately with Saddam's legacy for several years. We believe that the contents of this study well reflect the Saddam we know. This, of course, is an utterly subjective judgment. Furthermore, some recordings capture only part of what are clearly longer-running conversations on the same topic, or they capture narrow aspects of wider-ranging conversations. For these reasons, we do not believe that readers should consider our conclusions here, such as they are, definitive. Years of work will be required before an ecological understanding of Saddam emerges. As U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has argued, important insights and lessons will remain hidden until the Iraqi records are publicly available to the academic community. Because the purpose of this study is more to invite future research than to present a definitive analysis of authoritarian decision making, we have left detailed analyses of Saddam's psyche and the role of bureaucratic politics in Iraq to others.
This study will have succeeded if it encourages scholars to use the Conflict Records Research Center (CRRC) to study the collection of recordings and supporting materials. After all, there is no shortage of work to do. Although this study focuses on Saddam Hussein, it is also about the United States. Saddam's regime is gone forever, yet the need remains for U.S. policy makers to accurately assess which policies toward Iraq worked and which did not. Then they must wrestle with the more complicated issue of why a given policy succeeded or failed if the lessons are to help shape options for situations unrelated to events in Iraq.