Bush as Saddam magazine cover stirs controversy
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Sunday, September 23, 2007 9:11PM EDT
The cover article on the latest issue of Maclean's magazine, titled "How Bush Became the New Saddam,'' is stirring up controversy south of the border.
Bush is depicted on the cover dressed as Saddam Hussein, complete with a moustache, beret and military attire.
Freelance journalist Patrick Graham, who wrote the story, said the idea came from a comment made to him during a recent trip to Iraq.
"An Iraqi friend of mine was laughing, saying, 'The Americans are the new Baathists in Iraq'," Graham told CTV's Question Period on Sunday, referring to the party once ruled by Hussein.
"When I said that to my editor, they thought through what the implications were. They read my piece, and they put that together."
In the U.S., bloggers on the left and right have been hotly debating the merits of the comparison.
"Graham legitimately documented the danger and violence that still exists in Iraq, but nowhere in his article was he willing to concede anything positive about the country's progress,'' complains Lynn Davidson on one U.S.-based conservative blog.
"(His) one-sided portrayal of Iraq made the New York Times' coverage look fair and balanced.''
Still, Suneel Khanna, communications director for Maclean's, told ABC News that the magazine has not received any complaints from its 10,000 American subscribers.
Graham defends article
Graham, who spent more than a year in Iraq following the U.S. invasion, returned recently to document the progress.
Before leaving in the fall of 2004, Graham had written an article describing the insurgency and the tribal culture in Anbar province.
"It was a very influential article and it helped, I think, influence the way in which the Americans developed their surge strategy," said Graham.
"So when I went back I was really curious because the people that I knew who had been in the insurgency were now fighting with the Americans."
Graham said the switch was an extraordinary development.
"What I realized after I got there (the second time) was that the Americans had really switched sides and that they were carrying out the old Baathist strategy in Iraq and that's one of the reasons why the insurgents and a lot of Sunni Iraqis had switched sides."
Graham said he discovered that the surge strategy was essentially the Saddam strategy -- which was to contain the Kurds, confront the Shia using tribal Sunnis, and to confront Iran.
"They basically created a home grown insurgency in Anbar, which they've now won over, and now they're not admitting to themselves what they're doing -- which is taking up where Saddam left off," said Graham.
He said it's important that the U.S. admit who their new allies are and understand the implications of their strategies or they will "screw up again."