America's Bad Books

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

<b>Best to forget that Saddam Hussein was supported by the U.S. in wars against America&#146;s enemies</b>

As world leaders urge U.S. President George W. Bush not to rush into a unilateralengagement with Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney has attempted to support the plan with a history lesson on U.S.-Iraq relations.

Cheney reminds those of us who might be tempted to give diplomacy another chance and open the way for further weapons inspections, that Saddam Hussein is “the same dictator who has been on the [U.S.] State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism for nearly two decades.”

Ahem. Perhaps what the vice president meant to say was that Saddam Hussein is the samedictator who should have been on the State Department’s list of statesponsors of terrorism for nearly two decades.

True, Iraq was on the annual list when it was first created in 1979 and is on the list today. But from 1982 until 1990, the Reagan and Bush administrations bestowed upon Iraq the honour of being the only country ever to be removed from the list, making the grand total of years on the list a mere fifteen. Nice try, Dick.

Why should we care? Because he’s right — a history lesson is in order.

So here it goes. Some of the most brutal acts of the Hussein regime occurred during the period in which U.S.-Iraq relations were the friendliest — in the “off-list” years. In 1984, the day before U.S. Middle East Envoy (now Secretary of Defense) Donald Rumsfeld arrived for an official visit in Baghdad, Iraq was accused of poisoning 600 Iranian soldiers with mustard gas. In 1988, the Iraqi forces gassed the Kurdish village of Halabja, killing 5000 people, very likely using the Hughes helicopters sold to them by the United States in 1983.

With a decimated military and the enforcement of no-fly zones, today Iraq is utterly incapable of reproducing these kind of attacks. Yet the U.S. is preparing for a second Gulf War. What gives?

Perhaps Ronald Reagan and George Bush senior were willing to overlook Iraq’sgenocidal operations in the 1980s because Iraq was fighting Iran’s militantly anti-American regime that had just overthrown the Shah, another U.S.-friendly dictator. In 1990, the monster that the U.S. helped to create started to turn on its master, so moral outrage against Saddam Hussein was once again in the U.S.’s interest.

Cheney’s statement about how long Saddam Hussein has been in the State Department’s bad books is not a simple error in arithmetic. It is a whitewash of history designed to deliver the moral certitude needed by the American people to fight another war. Saddam’s eight-year rehabilitation has been swiped from America’s collective memory banks as the press reports Cheney’s misleading statements without comment.

As the general public forget about the long flirt with Saddam, so we forget about the CIA’s support for Osama bin Laden’s anti-Soviet activities.

The 1980s were a bad decade, I know. Do we have to bring all that up again? History can be such a nuisance. Best to forget that both bin Laden and Hussein — leaders of the “Axis of Evil” no less — were supported by the U.S. in order to fight wars against America’s enemies. It’s bound to cause anxiety right when we need to be convinced that the solution to terrorism is more military action.

Nevertheless, some of us, like Winston in George Orwell’s 1984, have this quirkypreference for historical accuracy. We are a little troubled by such collective amnesia:

It was rather more of a shock to him [Winston] when he discovered from somechance remarks that she [Julia] did not remember that Oceania, four yearsago, had been at war with Eastasia and at peace with Eurasia.... “I thought we’d always been at war with Eurasia,” she said vaguely. It frightened him a little.

Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.