Saddam: Robert Byrd of Iraq?

Renaming all those buildings won’t be cheap.

Among the little-discussed costs the United States will incur after deposing Saddam Hussein is the expense of renaming buildings. Like some Robert Byrd on steroids, the Iraqi leader has slapped his name onto everything in sight. There is Saddam University, founded in 1993, which encompasses the Saddam College of Law, the Saddam College of Medicine, the Saddam College of Engineering, the Saddam College of Science, and the Saddam College of Political Science. There is the Saddam University for Islamic Sciences, founded in 1989 “according to the direction of H.E. the President the Fighter Saddam Hussein (May God preserve and protect him).” There is the Saddam Center for Cardiac Surgery. There is the Saddam Bridge, the International Saddam Tower, and the Saddam International Airport. There is the Grand Saddam Mosque, still under construction, which promises to be the largest in the world. Four of its minarets were built to resemble Kalashnikov rifles, and another four were built to resemble Scud missiles. In 1990, after Iraq invaded Kuwait and declared it Iraq’s 19th province, a portion of that province was named, “Saddam.” (Obviously the letterhead was changed after the Gulf War, so that won’t cost us a dime.) In 1998, the first test-tube baby born since the Gulf War was named … well, guess.

Some public buildings outside Iraq may come to be renamed, too. Birmingham, England, has a Saddam Hussein Mosque, built in 1988 with funds from the Iraqi government. And a small town in Sicily called Santa Maria di Licodia has an amphitheater dedicated to the big guy, who paid for it.

The cost of all this renaming is difficult to calculate, because Chatterbox’s list of Saddam-named edifices is necessarily incomplete. He invites informed readers to send further examples of public structures and institutions in Iraq named after Saddam. E-mail entries, which should include a reliable citation or Web link, to  under the subject heading, “Saddam buildings.”