By Chris Floyd - Los Angeles Times.
Aug. 3, 2002
"But odious as it is now, Saddam's
regime was certainly every bit as odious back in 1983, when
the Reagan-Bush administration sent a special envoy to the
tyrant, pledging American support for his war of aggression
against Iran "
Every day, the war drums beat their restless
tattoo from the sun-blistered scrub brush of Crawford, Texas. "Attack
Iraq! Attack Iraq! Attack Iraq!" they cry, relentlessly, maddeningly,
driving the tribal elders to frenzy in the ritual dance around the fire.
The War Leader, chest smeared with blood, face blazing with slashes of
vibrant paint, emerges from his sacred cave and bellows: "I will not wait!
He will not stand!" The elders, drunk with sound and fury, strip off their
loincloths and colored robes and nakedly bray their oath of fealty to the
Leader, to his righteous war of conquest, and to the great one-eyed god
burning in the noonday sky.
In other words, just another typical week in
U.S. politics, as the Chief Vacationer and those wiggly invertebrates
known as Congressional Democrats continue to build the "bipartisan
consensus" for America's first openly declared aggressive war.
The urgency to depose Saddam Hussein seems a
bit curious. True, he's a tyrant who deals in political murder, ethnic
cleansing, mass repression and aggressive war -- but the United States
generally likes that in a foreign leader. Witness this week's decision by
Bush to resume cozy ties to the Indonesian military, lately guilty of,
well, political murder, ethnic cleansing, mass repression and aggressive
war in East Timor in 1999. Not a single top Indonesian officer has faced
charges for that attempted genocide: Indonesia's second holocaust in East
Timor; the first occurred in 1975, with the official blessing of U.S.
President Gerald Ford. But War Leader Bush likes the cut of the
Indonesians' bloodstained jib, so he's opening up the spigot again, The
Los Angeles Times reports.
But unlike the American-blessed tyrants now
holding sway in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Syria and other enlightened
nations where Bush is sending his captives to be tortured, Saddam sticks
in the craw somehow. True, he runs an odious regime. In fact, he has run
it -- in part or completely -- for 34 years, without managing to destroy
the entire world and Crawford, Texas, too. Yet now, suddenly, he must be
"taken out" -- apparently because some shaman told the War Leader that
after almost four decades of wealth and power, Saddam is about to commit
suicide by attacking the nuclear-armed nations of the United States and
Israel. (It's funny what those drums -- and a few cups of haoma -- can
lead you to believe.)
But odious as it is now, Saddam's regime was
certainly every bit as odious back in 1983, when the Reagan-Bush
administration sent a special envoy to the tyrant, pledging American
support for his war of aggression against Iran, as Jeremy Scahill reports
The envoy assured The New York Times that
Saddam "was not interested in making mischief in the world." American aid
-- including material for those sinister "weapons of mass destruction" --
poured into Iraq. The envoy returned to Baghdad a few months later, to
better coordinate the new alliance. While he was there, breaking bread
with the Iraqi murderers, the UN confirmed that Saddam had begun using
chemical weapons against the Iranians.
The envoy said nothing. The alliance continued.
The war went on. A million people died.
Now that envoy -- a little minion named Donald
Rumsfeld -- is preparing another trip to Baghdad, this time at the head of
a conquering army. Who knows? Maybe another million people will die. The
envoy won't mind; he's seen it all before.
And surely the Iraqi regime was equally odious
in 1989, when George Bush I signed an executive order mandating closer U.S
ties with Saddam -- including the sale of WMD technology -- just months
after Saddam had been accused of gassing his own people. Or in 1991, when
a mere two weeks before Iraq's much-telegraphed invasion of Kuwait, Bush's
ambassador, April Glaspie, assured Saddam: "We have no opinion on
Arab-Arab conflicts like your border disagreement with Kuwait."
Can you spell "green light"? Saddam could. But
then Saudi Arabia -- cradle of the Taliban, business partner of the Bush
Family -- perceived a possible threat to their sacred oil fields and
called in their palace guard: the U.S. military. Bush duly dispatched
thousands of young Americans to kill and die for his princely
The rest, as they say, is history -- except, of
course, for all the facts being buried in the sound and fury of frenzied
barbarians howling for war.
Especially this fact: The odious Iraqi regime
is no more or less dangerous now than it has been for decades. America's
rulers know this. They've always used the murderous tyrant for their own
political purposes, foreign and domestic, supporting him or demonizing him
as they see fit.
If the Soviet Union hadn't collapsed in 1991,
taking with it the rationale for the American elite's vast military
expenditures and profitable empire-building, Saddam would be regarded as
nothing but a minor irritant today, like Libya's Gadhafi -- or even a
staunch ally, like the "reformed" killers in Indonesia.
But the elite needs a big enemy, and bin
Laden's little band of box-cutters (the FBI says they have dwindled to
less than 200 members) just won't do -- not if you're looking for
long-term returns on military pork, and constant diversion from injustice,
inequality and wholesale corporate looting at home. And so an "Axis of
Evil" is concocted; failed states are magnified into dire threats; the war
drums never cease -- and the contracts keep coming. First Iraq, then Iran,
Louder, drums, louder -- so we won't hear the