me start by making it very clear that there is no question in my
mind that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who did not hesitate
to torture and kill his political opponents, killing many innocent
victims along with them. I don't like governments that do these
things. This is not a partisan issue. I am confident that ALL of
you will agree with me on this point.
I want to set
aside the question of why we went to war with Iraq. (Refuting
transparent and oft-repeated lies gets tiresome.) Instead I
want to focus on a more fundamental question.
picture shows Donald Rumsfeld in Iraq shaking hands with Saddam
Hussein on Dec. 20, 1983. Incidents involving gassing of Kurds
occurred in August, October, and Novembeer of the same year
and were public
knowledge at the time of this photo.]
Why did we
Hussein in power? Why did we consider
him a friend and an ally throughout the worst of his misdeeds?
Why did we arm
him? Why did we provide
him chemical and biological agents to add to his arsenal? Why
did we provide
aerial reconnaissance support while he used illegal chemical weapons
against Iran? Why did we continue
to support him even after the notorious incident where he gassed
a Kurdish village on Iraqi soil? Why have we supported
countless equally viscous dictators around the world? (If any
of the facts implied by these questions come as a surprise to you,
check out our website at ProgressiveWritersBloc.com, and follow
often given for our support of Saddam Hussein is that we backed
him for geopolitical reasons in
order to contain Iran during the exceptionally bloody Iran-Iraq
war from 1980-1988. That answer begs the question, however.
Iran was also
our "friend" during the long rule of Mohammed
Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. The Shah was brought to power
by a British led coup in 1941, lost power, briefly, to the popular
nationalist leader Muhammed Mosaddeq in 1953, then was restored
to power in another coup sponsored by the CIA. The Shah was notorious
for his brutal secret police force, Savak, which was formed
with the help of the CIA and Israel's Mossad.
The Shah, loved
by the US but increasingly hated by the Iranian people, was no less
a tyrant than the recently deposed "Butcher of Baghdad".
But he could be counted on to side with the US. Therefore he was
our "friend," regardless of his human rights record.
tyrants has its downside: their victims don't like it, and they
are likely to blame us as well. Hence, Iran erupted into a revolution
that brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power, and the US was proclaimed
to be "The Great Satan". The Ayatollah and the succession
of clerics that followed, have arguably taken Iran backward through
time, but at least their problems, and solutions, medieval as some
of them may be, are of the home-grown variety. For the first time
in generations Iran is run by and for Iranians. There is something
right about that, no matter how much we dislike being disliked by
our "friendly" dictator in Iran, we propped up another
"friendly" dictator in neighboring Iraq who launched a
against Iran. Iraq had its own reasons for attacking Iran, but
we facilitated it. To a large extent it was a proxy war. We provided
the arms and the AWACS air reconnaissance support, while Iran and
Iraq supplied the blood. The war certainly would not have dragged
on as long as it did had we not fueled the fire. Nearly nine years
of warfare with high tech weapons, countered by "human waves"
of Iranians, countered by illegal chemical weapons, left as many
as a million dead and several million wounded.
I have digressed.
I was talking about Saddam Hussein. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a brutal
tyrant. No argument there. He was a tyrant all along, but he was
a "friendly" tyrant until he got in our way. That means
the blood of his victims is on our hands as well. If the US presence
lacks legitimacy in the eyes of Iraqis and the rest of the world,
it may be because they know history better than we do.
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