Darkness at Noon


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 on Commondreams.org.

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.

Heavy Traffic

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 pals.

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.

Dead Reckoning

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, then ...

Louder, drums, louder -- so we won't hear the screams.

 

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