WASHINGTON -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, in a message to American television audiences, portrayed the Persian Gulf crisis as an American-British-Israeli conspiracy to deprive Arabs of their "dignity and humanity" and said that Kuwait had waged economic war against Iraq.
Insisting that the American purpose was one of politics, not principle, Mr. Hussein told Americans that President Bush is "sending your sons to a war that has no human value or meaning save fatal arrogance."
Accusing Mr. Bush of "repeating the mistake of Vietnam," Mr. Hussein warned that if the president "starts a war, it won't be up to him to end it."
The 76-minute speech was taped in Iraq and given yesterday to U.S. television networks, through the State Department, as a reply to the 8-minute speech by Mr. Bush broadcast a week ago Sunday in Iraq.
Mr. Hussein read the somewhat disjointed and rambling speech in Arabic, pausing often, while English subtitles flashed across the screen.
Though given to extreme and flowery language, the speech was less bellicose than many of his other statements.
Mr. Hussein said that, since 1947, the U.N. Security Council had passed 160 resolutions criticizing Israeli actions. Yet no measures of the kind taken now against Iraq had ever been taken against Israel, he said, and the resolutions were never implemented. To do so, he said, "would have freed Arabs" to realize their just "dignity and humanity."
"It would run counter to the interests of Israel and the Zionist lobby which controls the fate of many [U.S.] politicians," Mr. Hussein said.
He also offered a historical defense of his assertion that Kuwait is part of Iraq, saying it was severed in 1913 by Britain as part of Britain's preparation for World War I, citing four unsuccessful efforts since then to restore it to Iraq.
Lately, he said, the rulers of Kuwait had engaged in a conspiracy to destabilize Iraq politically, economically and militarily, accusing them of "amassing wealth and women" to such a degree that one, he said, tried to marry a young woman who he later discovered was one of his own daughters.