Watching Iraq, Preparing for Congressional Run

Watching Iraq, Preparing for Congressional Run

Iraqi-born congressional candidate and Herndon resident has different perspective on war.

Like many Americans, Sam Kubba has watched the war with Iraq carefully and with mixed emotions. Unlike many Americans, Kubba was born in Iraq and is now running for Congress in the country he has called home since he was four years old.

As the United States moved closer to war in March, Kubba, a Herndon resident, held his breath and waited. "Saddam is an insect," he said, shortly after the war started. "Now we are making him into a martyr. We don't want that. We don't need that."

Surprisingly, Kubba blames the necessity of war on the first President Bush. Bush, Sr. should have sent the coalition forces into Baghdad during the first Gulf War, Kubba argued. "We were at the doorstep and the people were ready," he said. "Back then, we had a legitimate reason to go in take Saddam out. We didn't do that."

That is not to say the current Bush Administration is without blame in the eyes of Kubba. The candidate believes President Bush pushed inexorably towards conflict. "We should have gone through the U.N.," he said earlier this month. "It's too bad because most Iraqis love Americans — the people, not the government. Now, I fear that will change, too."

<b>WHILE KUBBA</b> maintains that "90 to 95 percent of Iraqis despise Saddam," he says the United States should be careful of feeling too confident. "You can be a German and hate Hitler, but you are still a German and it doesn't fill you with great enthusiasm to be conquered," Kubba said.

"We'll be seen as arrogant conquerors," Kubba said, shortly before the now famous statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in a Baghdad square. "We can't try and win the hearts of a people by bombing their country."

Despite the seeming success of the operation, Kubba still worries that things will turn. "Even today, I think events are overtaking us. We'd have to expect that," the candidate said. "There are a lot of underground parties and everybody and their brother is rising up."

To avoid a post-war anti-American backlash, Kubba said whomever leads the newly liberated country should be someone who is "not associated" with America. Before the end game materialized, Kubba feared that retired lieutenant general Jay Garner would assume a leadership position. His fear was realized after the Bush Administration appointed him to run a Saddam-less Iraq. "That will be the worst decision possible," Kubba said at the time.

<b>NOW THAT GARNER</b> is on the ground in Baghdad, the goodwill among some Iraqis over the fall of Saddam may be short-lived, he warned. "We have to be careful. The longer we stay, it is likely to backfire."

Kubba worries about the war's repercussions in this country, as well. Like the months following Sept. 11, the possibility of an anti-Arab-American backlash is very possible, Kubba said. "The greatness of America lies in its diversity," he said. "This could tear our country apart."

Kubba said the administration's handling of the war has made it difficult to dispel the notion that the United States went to war with Iraq over oil. "Of all the ministries in Iraq — and the Army only protects the Oil and Interior ministries?" Kubba asked rhetorically. "What about health and foreign affairs? Aren't they important, too? And what about the museum? In hindsight, that wasn't very sensitive on our part."