"Even open-minded people will often find themselves unable to take seriously the likes of [Noam] Chomsky, [Edward] Herman, [Howard] Zinn and [Susan] George on first encountering their work; it just does not seem possible that we could be so mistaken in what we believe. The individual may assume that these writers must be somehow joking, wildly over-stating the case, paranoid, or have some sort of axe to grind. We may actually become angry with them for telling us these terrible things about our society and insist that this simply 'can't be true'. It takes real effort to keep reading, to resist the reassuring messages of the mass media and be prepared to consider the evidence again."
David Edwards - Burning All Illusions
The postings are oftentimes long and a few readers have claimed being "burnt out." My apologies. As the selected topics are not for entertainment but to stimulate deep thought (see MISSION Statement) and hopefully to rock the boat of complacency (re MISSION).
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Many of the world's most repressive dictators have been friends of America. Tyrants, torturers, killers, and sundry dictators and corrupt puppet-presidents have been aided, supported, and rewarded handsomely for their loyalty to US interests. Traditional dictators seize control through force, while constitutional dictators hold office through voting fraud or severely restricted elections, and are frequently puppets and apologists for the military juntas which control the ballot boxes. In any case, none have been democratically elected by the majority of their people in fair and open elections. - Dennis Bernstein & Laura Sydell, "Friendly Dictators" (1995)
Saddam Hussein: A Dictator Created Then Destroyed By America
By Robert Fisk, The Independent UK, Posted on December 30, 2006,
Saddam to the gallows. It was an easy equation. Who could be more deserving of that last walk to the scaffold -- that crack of the neck at the end of a rope -- than the Beast of Baghdad, the Hitler of the Tigris, the man who murdered untold hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis while spraying chemical weapons over his enemies? Our masters will tell us in a few hours that it is a "great day" for Iraqis and will hope that the Muslim world will forget that his death sentence was signed -- by the Iraqi "government", but on behalf of the Americans -- on the very eve of the Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, the moment of greatest forgiveness in the Arab world.
But history will record that the Arabs and other Muslims and, indeed, many millions in the West, will ask another question this weekend, a question that will not be posed in other Western newspapers because it is not the narrative laid down for us by our presidents and prime ministers -- what about the other guilty men?
No, Tony Blair is not Saddam. We don't gas our enemies. George W Bush is not Saddam. He didn't invade Iran or Kuwait. He only invaded Iraq. But hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead -- and thousands of Western troops are dead -- because Messrs Bush and Blair and the Spanish Prime Minister and the Italian Prime Minister and the Australian Prime Minister went to war in 2003 on a potage of lies and mendacity and, given the weapons we used, with great brutality.
In the aftermath of the international crimes against humanity of 2001 we have tortured, we have murdered, we have brutalised and killed the innocent -- we have even added our shame at Abu Ghraib to Saddam's shame at Abu Ghraib -- and yet we are supposed to forget these terrible crimes as we applaud the swinging corpse of the dictator we created.
Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half souls? And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam's weird trial, forbade any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him. Could he not have been handed over to the Iranians for sentencing for this massive war crime? Of course not. Because that would also expose our culpability.
And the mass killings we perpetrated in 2003 with our depleted uranium shells and our "bunker buster" bombs and our phosphorous, the murderous post-invasion sieges of Fallujah and Najaf, the hell-disaster of anarchy we unleashed on the Iraqi population in the aftermath of our "victory"-- our "mission accomplished" -- who will be found guilty of this? Such expiation as we might expect will come, no doubt, in the self-serving memoirs of Blair and Bush, written in comfortable and wealthy retirement.
Hours before Saddam's death sentence, his family -- his first wife, Sajida, and Saddam's daughter and their other relatives -- had given up hope. "Whatever could be done has been done -- we can only wait for time to take its course," one of them said last night. But Saddam knew, and had already announced his own "martyrdom": he was still the president of Iraq and he would die for Iraq. All condemned men face a decision: to die with a last, grovelling plea for mercy or to die with whatever dignity they can wrap around themselves in their last hours on earth. His last trial appearance -- that wan smile that spread over the mass-murderer's face -- showed us which path Saddam intended to walk to the noose.
I have catalogued his monstrous crimes over the years. I have talked to the Kurdish survivors of Halabja and the Shia who rose up against the dictator at our request in 1991 and who were betrayed by us -- and whose comrades, in their tens of thousands, along with their wives, were hanged like thrushes by Saddam's executioners.
I have walked round the execution chamber of Abu Ghraib - only months, it later transpired, after we had been using the same prison for a few tortures and killings of our own -- and I have watched Iraqis pull thousands of their dead relatives from the mass graves of Hilla. One of them has a newly-inserted artificial hip and a medical identification number on his arm. He had been taken directly from hospital to his place of execution. Like Donald Rumsfeld, I have even shaken the dictator's soft, damp hand. Yet the old war criminal finished his days in power writing romantic novels.
It was my colleague, Tom Friedman -- now a messianic columnist for The New York Times -- who perfectly caught Saddam's character just before the 2003 invasion: Saddam was, he wrote, "part Don Corleone, part Donald Duck". And, in this unique definition, Friedman caught the horror of all dictators; their sadistic attraction and the grotesque, unbelievable nature of their barbarity.
But that is not how the Arab world will see him. At first, those who suffered from Saddam's cruelty will welcome his execution. Hundreds wanted to pull the hangman's lever. So will many other Kurds and Shia outside Iraq welcome his end. But they -- and millions of other Muslims -- will remember how he was informed of his death sentence at the dawn of the Eid al-Adha feast, which recalls the would-be sacrifice by Abraham, of his son, a commemoration which even the ghastly Saddam cynically used to celebrate by releasing prisoners from his jails.
"Handed over to the Iraqi authorities," he may have been before his death. But his execution will go down -- correctly -- as an American affair and time will add its false but lasting gloss to all this -- that the West destroyed an Arab leader who no longer obeyed his orders from Washington, that, for all his wrongdoing (and this will be the terrible get-out for Arab historians, this shaving away of his crimes) Saddam died a "martyr" to the will of the new "Crusaders."
When he was captured in November of 2003, the insurgency against American troops increased in ferocity. After his death, it will redouble in intensity again. Freed from the remotest possibility of Saddam's return by his execution, the West's enemies in Iraq have no reason to fear the return of his Baathist regime. Osama bin Laden will certainly rejoice, along with Bush and Blair. And there's a thought. So many crimes avenged. But we will have got away with it.
© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.View this story online at:
Saddam's Hidden History
by Joel Bleifuss
In These Times magazine, January 2004
Saddam Hussein's career as a world political figure is over; and a good thing that is. Yet with all the hoopla surrounding the capture, one would never know that the Iraqi president was once a dependable American ally.
Almost all of the instant histories that filled the news pages and the airwaves after his capture ignored the documented fact that throughout the '80s, Saddam was a key U.S. ally in the Middle East. Consider the following:
* In 1959 the CIA put Saddam Hussein on its covert operations payroll. The CIA wanted to assassinate then-lraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim, who was buying weapons from the Soviet Union and putting Iraqi communists in positions of power. To that end, the agency hired Saddam, then 22, and five other men. The hit failed because Saddam began firing too soon, wounding Qasim and killing his driver.
Qasim finally met his end in a Ba'ath Party coup in 1963. After the coup, the CIA provided the anti-communist Ba'athists with a list of suspected communists, who were rounded up and executed en masse. A former CIA official told the United Press International's Richard Sale: "It was a bit like the mysterious killing of Iran's communists just after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979. All 4,000 of his communists suddenly got killed."
* On September 22, 1980, Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, invaded Iran, beginning a war that lasted eight years and left an estimated 1 million dead. In April 1981, then-Secretary of State Alexander Haig visited the Middle East and upon his return wrote a debriefing paper for President Ronald Reagan in which he said, "It was also interesting to confirm that President Carter gave the Iraqis a green light to launch the war against Iran through [Saudi then-Prince, now-King] Fahd."
(Haig's notes, marked "top secret," were discovered by investigative reporter Robert Parry in the documents from a congressional investigation into the Reagan administration's contacts with Iran. They can be viewed at www.consortiumnews.com, a Web site Parry founded. As a correspondent for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the '80s, Parry broke many of the stories now known as the Iran-Contra Affair. His chronicle of Saddam's relationship with the United States, "Missing U.S.-lraq History," can be read at www.inthesetimes.com.)
* In 1982, the Reagan administration, though officially neutral, began to fear an Iranian victory. In a 1995 affidavit in a federal criminal court case, Howard Teicher, a one-time member of Reagan's National Security Council staff, said that in 1982 he helped draft a secret National Security Decision Directive, signed by Reagan, to provide covert support to Iraq.
Teicher wrote, "The CIA, including both CIA Director [William] Casey and Deputy Director [Robert] Gates, knew of, approved of and assisted in the sale of non-U.S.-origin military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to Iraq." The Reagan administration also began providing Saddam Hussein's military with satellite photos of the battlefield and dual-use technology that Iraq used to build chemical and biological weapons. And the Reagan administration allowed Iraq to buy computer software that Saddam could use to track political opponents.
At a Senate hearing on September 19, 2002, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.V.) asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: "Did the United States help Iraq to acquire the building blocks of biological weapons during the Iran-lraq war? Are we in fact, now facing the possibility of reaping what we have sown?" Rumsfeld, who was Reagan's special envoy to the Middle East in 1983 and 1984 and who met personally with Saddam on December 20, 1983, replied that he had "no knowledge" of such U.S. assistance. Was that a lie?
The Washington Post's Michael Dobbs, after poring through thousands of unclassified government documents, wrote in a December 30, 2002, article: "The administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush authorized the sale to Iraq of numerous items that had both military and civilian applications, including poisonous chemicals and deadly biological viruses, such as anthrax and bubonic plague."
* In 1986, then Vice President George H.W. Bush encouraged Saddam, through Arab intermediaries, to strike Iran harder, according to a November 2, 1992 New Yorker story by Murray Waas and Craig Unger. Indeed, that year, the Iraqi air force began to bomb civilian neighborhoods in Tehran and other cities. The United States allegedly desired an intensified bombing to make Iran more dependent on U.S. supplies of anti-aircraft parts to defend their cities. Such spare parts were an integral part of the Reagan administration's illegal arms-for-hostages deal with Iran.
In his 1995 affidavit, Teicher wrote, "In 1986, President Reagan sent a secret message to Saddam Hussein telling him that Iraq should step up its air war and bombing of Iran. This message was delivered by Vice President Bush, who communicated it to Egyptian President Mubarak, who in turn passed the message to Saddam Hussein." The Clinton administration declared that Teicher's affidavit was false and then promptly classified it as a state secret.
* In 1988 it became known that Saddam Hussein had used his chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds in the town of Halabja. In response, a number of senators, including Al Gore (D-Tenn.), introduced the "Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988," which sought to impose sanctions against Iraq. The act passed the Senate unanimously, but the Reagan White House killed the bill in the House.
Peter Galbraith, the former ambassador to Croatia who worked in the Senate as an Iraq expert at the time, wrote in the Boston Globe Magazine: "Secretary of State Colin Powell was then the national security adviser who orchestrated Ronald Reagan's decision to give Hussein a pass for gassing the Kurds. Dick Cheney, then a prominent Republican congressman and now vice president and the Bush administration's leading Iraq hawk, could have helped push the sanctions legislation but did not."
* In 1990, with Iraq's economy devastated by the war with Iran, Saddam invaded Kuwait-but only after consulting with the Bush administration. The State Department informed Saddam that Washington had "no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait." And later, U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie told Saddam, "We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait."
Foreign Policy, in its January-February 2003 issue noted that the "United States may not have intended to give Iraq a green light, but that is effectively what it did."