Monday, January 29, 2007

Western Support for Saddam

Thanks to and Barry's work in conjunction with Canal + France, we know more about America's involvement in the support of Saddam Hussein against the Iranians in the 1980's. We also learn more about about how United Nations sanctions against Iraq did not hurt Saddam, but hurt his people greatly.

We all know that Saddam used weapons of mass destruction to kill many of his people. But what is not commonly known is that Donald Rumsfeld met with and shook hands with Saddam Hussein in 1983, and although it is not known what went on in this meeting, only a couple of months later, Saddam used chemical weapons on his people. In an effort to support Iraq against Iran, the US provided satellite imagery to the Iraqis about Iranian troop formations. The Iraqis used nerve gas against the Iranians after receiving this intelligence.

George W Bush cited the village of Halabja, whose residents were killed in 1988 by chemical weapons, as a reason to overthrow Saddam Hussein. But at the time it happened, no western governments wanted to talk about it. Partly because of its support of Iraq over Iran, and partly because what Lando and Canal + France say was western desire to control Iraqi petroleum, the US and other western governments ignored Halabja when it happened. Opposition in the US to legislation to place sanctions on Saddam were orchestrated by Colin Powell, at that time National Security Adviser. French and German companies had sold chemicals and other equipment to Iraq in the 1980s. Records of these sales are kept under lock and key in the United Nations.

Sanctions imposed by the United Nations on Iraq for 12 years is estimated to have caused the deaths of at least 500,000 Iraqis. Despite knowledge of death rates under the sanctions, the UN continued the sanctions. Medications, including rehydration fluids, ran out quickly. Some politicians in Washington accused those warning of the mass deaths of succumbing to Saddam's propaganda. The allegation is made in the following video that the west deliberately targeted water and electrical supplies in Iraq. Untreated water resulted in mass outbreak of disease. The theory was that if the people of Iraq were hurt by the sanctions, they would rise up against Saddam. But in reality, the Iraqi people blamed the west. The embargo is now over, but Iraqi doctors still don't have the supplies they need. The United Nations kept the embargo in place even though it was learned that Saddam was circumventing the embargo and that only the Iraqi people were suffering.

For more information, visit Barry is the recent author of the book WEB OF DECEIT: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush.


Rich Warnick said...

I know where you're going with this, Frank. The truth is that before we invaded Saddam was contained, the Kurds were free of him, and the cost of US military operations in and over Iraq was about $1.5 billion a year.

The truth is, sanctions could have been adjusted to circumvent Saddam's efforts to punish "his own" people (really Shiites he hated) while he built more palaces.

It was a war of choice. The UN wasn't with us, which makes the invasion illegal.

Frank Staheli said...


I'm not sure where I was going with it. I just found it very interesting.

Where was I going? Where should I go?

Rich Warnick said...

The usual neocon argument is that in 2002-2003 sanctions and no-fly zones were a failed policy, or about to fail. Saddam was winning sympathy for the suffering Iraqis (really due to him, not sanctions), the UN and our allies were corrupted by Iraqi oil money, and Iraq was about to come out of the sanctions regime and resume full-scale WMD production.

Colin Powell didn't agree, but who in the Bush administration listened to him?

Frank Staheli said...


I see what you're saying now. Actually I was intrigued by the detail of American involvement for the last 30 or more years. I remember a US News coverstory in about 1988 that had a picture of Saddam on the cover, entitled something like "Who armed this madman?" And then talked about US, France, Germany, etc. helping him gear up, but I don't remember much...

I particularly like what I'm learning in Ricks' book "Fiasco" about the results of Bush Sr's stopping the war in mid stream and bailing on the Shia and Kurds, and how neocons felt like there was always unfinished business, but how the people in the know (Zinni, Garner, Abazaid, and Schwartzkopf for that matter) realized that trying to mop up in 2003 where we had ended in 1991 would be like jumping into a tar pit.