From the mind of Saddam Hussein comes another vicious dimension to the deadly art of war. This time the Iraqi dictator has opted for the use of dual-purpose facilities -- military and civilian -- in an attempt to win on the propaganda stage what he cannot win on the battlefield. In effect, he is using his own people as "human shields" to discourage bombing of legitimate targets or, if the worst happens, as it did in Baghdad this week, to flash to the world pictures of dead and burned and maimed innocents via instant television coverage.
Such tactics can hardly be surprising from a man who turned his country into a garrison state, launched two wars in one decade for territorial aggrandizement, used chemical weaponry to kill thousands of Kurds, forced hundreds of foreigners to act as "human shields" for military installations and defense factories, publicly proclaimed his intention to use prisoners-of-war for the same purpose, unleashed an oil-spill disaster in the Persian Gulf and shot Scud missiles randomly into the heart of Israeli and Saudi population centers.
Americans are grieved that bombs and rockets delivered by their own airmen inevitably kill civilians. Officials in charge of the gulf war are making excruciating efforts to avoid such casualties for reasons that are both humane and geo-political. But they will have to do better to prevent Saddam Hussein from obscuring the fact that he started this war by violently seizing little Kuwait.