It all started in the spring of 1986 when George W. Bush was sent to Iraq as a secret emissary on behalf of the Reagan Administration. Despite his lack of experience in…well…anything, President Reagan sent Bush because Bush’s father, Vice President George H.W. Bush, said he could be trusted.
The Iran-Iraq War was at a stalemate and the younger Bush went to Iraq in order to offer assistance to the Iraqis in their cause. The United States had a vested interest in the deposition of Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and senior aides in the Reagan Administration, as well as top American intelligence officials, believed that strengthening Iraq would lead to an Iranian defeat and that an Iranian defeat would result in the end of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. That would bring about the fall of Ayatollah Khomeini.
George W. Bush, just 39 years old at the time, arrived in Baghdad in secret and was whisked away by helicopter to one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces, on the Euphrates River in Najaf. It was there that the eventual adversaries would first meet, but at the time, they really enjoyed each other’s company. For hours, they joked, watched local performers, spoke to one another about their hopes and dreams, and then gathered for dinner.
During that dinner, the seeds were planted for a conflict that later would cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives. Saddam and Bush feasted on quail that Saddam claimed he had personally hunted earlier that day. Bush, remembering his diplomatic initiative, asked Saddam what the United States and President Reagan could do to help Iraq defeat the Iranians and topple Ayatollah Khomeini. Saddam laid out what he would need, and Bush assured the Iraqi leader that his requests would be no problem and that he was glad that they could come to an agreement.
Unfortunately, both men began drinking during the dinner, and both men became boisterous. Good-natured joking was transforming into sharp jabs and then downright hostility. Saddam and Bush were joined by a very small group of people, and the entire room went silent as the Iraqi dictator and the future American President started boasting about their manhood and making challenges to the other man.
Saddam found himself in an unusual position as Bush would not defer to him in these challenges. When Saddam dropped and did 50 push-ups, Bush did the same. When Saddam swam across the Euphrates and back, Bush did, as well. They had a foot race around the palace with no clear winner. Arm-wrestling settled nothing. They competed to see who could kick a soccer ball the furthest and, again, there was no distinction between the two. Saddam skipped a rock across the river six times, and so did Bush.
Saddam was getting more-and-more frustrated by his inability to best George W. Bush in feats of strength, athletic contests, or the board game “Sorry!”. If an Iraqi had met all of Saddam’s challenges as Bush had without deferring to the Iraqi dictator, Saddam would have had his son Uday torture the man. Of course, he couldn’t do that with the son of the Vice President of the United States, especially since he had been sent as a special emissary by President Reagan.
Suddenly, an idea brightened Saddam’s countenance. He summoned an aide and whispered something in the man’s ear. Five minutes later, Saddam’s aide walked in with a large boombox and an Iraqi soldier brought in several pieces of cardboard.
Saddam stood up, loosened his tie, removed his military-style beret, and rolled up his sleeves. Staring at George W. Bush with fire in his eyes, the Iraqi dictator growled, “Let’s see your B-boy stance, Texas.”
Bush quickly stood up, ready for the challenge, removed his jacket, and rolled up his shirtsleeves, as well. Removing his shoes, Bush gestured to Saddam, “It’s your country…for now…so, why don’t you go first?”.
Although he was fuming and visibly shaken by Bush’s confidence, Saddam closed his eyes, took three deep breaths, and pointed at the Iraqi near the boombox. Immediately, Run-D.M.C.’s self-titled album began playing and — there’s really no other way to put this: Saddam Hussein got the fuck down. The Iraqi dictator was popping, locking, busting out power moves and pulling up with world-class freezes.
Bush was obviously overmatched. The confidence was gone. The liquid courage from the night’s alcohol was abandoning him. As “Rock Box” played, Bush proved that he couldn’t match Saddam Hussein in everything. Had it ended there, with Saddam smiling and shaking hands with the future President after Bush graciously admitted defeated, perhaps the world would be different today.
Saddam, however, had been humiliated earlier in the night. Instead of smiling and shaking Bush’s hand, he pointed once against to the boombox. Saddam stared hard at Bush, did the Crip Walk and then transformed that into a Moonwalk. Saddam Moonwalked right out of the room, continuing to stare Bush in the eyes, and saying, as he reached the doorway, “Show yourself out, motherfucker.”
When George W. Bush returned to the United States, he immediately gave up drinking alcohol and focused himself on his life and future. He swore to himself that he would one day gain revenge against Saddam Hussein’s disrespectful showing during their b-boy battle in Iraq. Everything Bush did from 1986 on was done with the single purpose of destroying Saddam Hussein. Owner of a baseball team, Governor of Teas, President of the United States — none of these things meant much if Saddam Hussein was still gloating about his victory.
People talk about the oil or the revenge for slights against George W. Bush’s father or a search for weapons of mass destruction, but you now know the truth. George W. Bush went to war in Iraq because Saddam Hussein ambushed and embarrassed him during their breakdancing battle in 1986. There was never blood for oil; the blood was for breakdancing.