- You may feel disgusted by the hypocrisy of US plans to
make war on Iraq and sickened at the inevitable slaughter of thousands
of people. But if you could only vaguely recall the details of how deep
the hypocrisy goes, then read on.
- The US not only helped arm Iraq with military equipment
right up to the time of the Kuwait invasion in 1989, as did Germany, Britain,
France, Russia and others, but also sold and helped Iraq to integrate chemical
weapons into their US-provided battle plans while fighting Iran between
- According to a New York Times article in August, 2002,
Col. Walter P. Lang, a senior defense intelligence officer at the time,
explained that D.I.A. and C.I.A. officials "were desperate to make
sure that Iraq did not lose" to Iran. "The use of gas on the
battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern,"
he said. One veteran said, that the Pentagon "wasn't so horrified
by Iraq's use of gas." "It was just another way of killing people
_ whether with a bullet or phosgene, it didn't make any difference."
- Now consider just how deceptive the recent comments from
the White House are. In late September spokesman Ari Fleischer said that
British Prime Minister Blair's dossier of evidence is "frightening
in terms of Iraq's intentions and abilities to acquire weapons." A
few days later, while making his case against Saddam, President Bush said
"He's used poison gas on his own people." Bush deceives because
he hides the fact that US officials, including his father, had no qualms
about helping Saddam gas Iranians. What is truly frightening are the US
policies toward Iraq, the cover ups of those policies, and the US officials
who personally profit in the millions of dollars from those policies. To
whatever degree Saddam is a tyrant, he would not be that without the US
- The question is not whether Saddam is willing to use
chemical or other weapons of mass destruction again. The question is whether
the US is currently selling and helping countries use weapons of mass destruction.
- Details about Iraq killing Iranians with US-supplied
chemical and biological weapons significantly deepens our understanding
of the current hypocrisy. It began with "Iraq-gate" -- when US
policy makers, financiers, arms-suppliers and makers, made massive profits
from sales to Iraq of myriad chemical, biological, conventional weapons,
and the equipment to make nuclear weapons. Reporter Russ Baker noted, for
example, that, "on July 3, 1991, the Financial Times reported that
a Florida company run by an Iraqi national had produced cyanide -- some
of which went to Iraq for use in chemical weapons -- and had shipped it
via a CIA contractor." This was just the tip of a mountain of scandals.
- A major break in uncovering Iraqgate began with a riveting
1990 Nightline episode which revealed that top officials of the Reagan
administration, the State Department, the Pentagon, C.I.A., and D.I.A.,
collectively engaged in a massive cover up of the USS Vincennes' whereabouts
and actions when it shot down an Iranian airliner in 1987 killing over
200 civilians. The "massive cover up" Koppel explained, was designed
to hide the US secret war against Iran, in which, among other actions,
US Special Operations troops and Navy SEALS sunk half of Iran's navy while
giving battle plans and logistical information to Iraqi ground forces in
a coordinated offensive.
- In continuing the probe, as Koppel explained in June,
1990, "It is becoming increasingly clear that George Bush [Sr.], operating
largely behind the scenes throughout the 1980s, initiated and supported
much of the financing, intelligence, and military help that built Saddam's
Iraq into the aggressive power that the United States ultimately had to
- A PBS Frontline episode, "The Arming of Iraq"
(1990) detailed much of the conventional and so-called "dual-use"
weapons sold to Iraq. The public learned from other sources that at least
since mid-1980s the US was selling chemical and biological material for
weapons to Iraq and orchestrating private sales. These sales began soon
after current Secretary of State, Donald Rumsfeld traveled to Baghdad in
1985 and met with Saddam Hussein as a private businessman on behalf of
the Reagan administration. In the last major battle of the Iran-Iraq war,
some 65,000 Iranians were killed, many by gas.
- Investigators turned up new scandals, including the involvement
of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL), the giant Italian bank, and many of
the very same circles of arms suppliers, covert operators, and policy makers
in and out of the US government and active in those roles for years. The
National Security Council, CIA and other US agencies tacitly approved about
$4 billion in unreported loans to Iraq through the giant Italian bank's
Atlanta branch. Iraq, with the blessing and official approval of the US
government, purchased computer controlled machine tools, computers, scientific
instruments, special alloy steel and aluminum, chemicals, and other industrial
goods for Iraq's missile, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.
- However, the early reports on BNL's activities and the
startling revelations that the US government astonishingly knew that BNL
was financing billions of dollars of purchases illegally, were rather comical
in view of later revelations regarding who was involved. US government
officials didn't just know and approve, but some were employees at BNL
directly or indirectly. It was Representative Henry Gonzalez (D-Texas)
who relentlessly brought key information into the Congressional Record
(despite stern warnings by the State Department to stop his personal investigation
for the sake of "national security").
- Gonzalas revealed, for example, that Brent Scowcroft
served as Vice Chairman of Kissinger Associates until being appointed as
National Security Advisor to President Bush in January 1989. As Gonzalez
reported, "Until October 4,1990, Mr. Scowcroft owned stock in approximately
40 U.S. corporations, many of which were doing busies in Iraq." Scowcroft's
stock included that in Halliburton Oil, also doing business in Iraq at
the time, which had also been run by current Vice President Dick Cheney
for a time. Recall that this year President George Bush Sr. faced suspicion
of insider trading in relation to selling his stock in Halliburton. The
companies that Scowcroft owned stock in, according to Gonzalez, "received
more than one out of every eight U.S. export licenses for exports to Iraq.
Several of the companies were also clients of Kissinger Associates while
Mr. Scowcroft was Vice Chairman of that firm." Thus, Kissinger Associates
helped US companies obtain US export licenses with BNL-finance so Iraq
could purchase US weapons and materials for its weapons programs.
- Many US business-men and officials made handsome profits.
This included Henry Kissinger, the former Secretary of State under Richard
Nixon, who was an employee of BNL while BNL was simultaneously a paying
client of Kissinger Associates. Gonzalez reported that Mr. Alan Stoga,
a Kissinger Associates executive, met in June 1989 Mr. Saddam Hussein in
Baghdad. "Many Kissinger Associates clients received US export licenses
for exports to Iraq. Several were also the beneficiaries of BNL loans to
Iraq," said Mr. Gonzalez. Kissinger admitted that "it is possible
that somebody may have advised a client on how to get a license."
- Perhaps the most bizarre revelations about the involvement
of former US officials concerned a Washington-based enterprise called "Global
Research" which played a middleman role in selling uniforms to Iraq.
It was run by, none other than Spiro Agnew (Nixon's former VP who resigned
to avoid bribery and tax evasion charges), John Mitchell (Nixon's chief
of staff and Watergate organizer), and Richard Nixon himself. In the mid-1980s,
more than a decade after Watergate, Nixon wrote a cozy letter to former
dictator and friend Nicolae Ceausescu to close the deal. Global Research,
incidentally, swindled the Iraqis, who thought they were getting US-made
uniforms for desert conditions. Instead they received, and discarded, the
winter uniforms from Romania.
- By late 1992, the sales of chemical and biological weapons
were revealed. Congressional Records of Senator Riegle's investigation
of the Gulf War Syndrome show that that the US government approved sales
of large varieties of chemical and biological materials to Iraq. These
included anthrax, components of mustard gas, botulinum toxins (which causes
paralysis of the muscles involving swallowing and is often fatal), histoplasma
capsulatum (which may cause pneumonia, enlargement of the liver and spleen,
anemia, acute inflammatory skin disease marked by tender red nodules),
and a host of other nasty chemicals materials.
- To top it all off, there is the question as to whether
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was a set up. Evidence indicates that the US
knew of Iraq's plans -- after all, the military and intelligence agencies
of the two countries were working very closely. Newspaper reports about
the infamous meeting between then-Ambassador Glaspie and Iraq officials,
and a special ABC report in the series "A Line in the Sand,"
indicated that, although the US officials told Iraq that it disapproved,
they indicated that the US would not interfere.
- Bear in mind the attitude of the US policy makers not
only regarding Iraq's use of gas against Iranians, but in general. Richard
Armatige, then Asst. Sec. of Defense for International Security Affairs
and now Deputy Secretary of State, said with a hint of pride in his voice
that the US "was playing one wolf off another wolf" in pursuing
our so-called national interest. This kind of cool machismo resembled the
pride that Oliver North verbalized with a grin during the Iran-Contra hearings
as "a right idea" with regard to using the Ayatollah's money
to fund the Contras. The setting up of Iraq thus would be very consistent
with the goals and the character of US foreign policy in the Middle East:
to control the region's states either for US oil companies or as bargaining
chips in deals with other strong countries, and to profit by selling massive
quantities of weapons to states that will war with or deter those states
that oppose US "interests."
- The problem that Armatige refers to was the fact that
by 1990, the US and allied arming of Iraq had given Iraq a decisive military
edge over Iran, which upset the regional "balance." The thinking
among the US hawks was Iraq's military needed to somehow be returned to
its 1980 level. An invasion of Kuwait would enable the US to do that.
- But initially many arms suppliers opposed the war on
Iraq because they had been making huge profits from arms sales to Saddam's
regime during the 1980s. Indeed, one US official interviewed expressed
his disappointment with Iraq's invasion and the subsequent Gulf War because
the relationship with Iraq could have continued to be "very profit...uh
- Bush Sr. and others expected that after the war, Saddam
would capitulate to US designs on the region. With a heeled Saddam, the
interests of arms suppliers, defense contractors, and the many US oil corporations
could be renewed. Iraqi would have to re-arm itself and invest in oil drilling
and processing facilities that were destroyed by US forces. And to pay
for all that, Iraq would have to sell oil cheap, which served the interests
both of the giant oil corporations and the American public who had begun
buying GM SUVs en masse. It would be good for US business.
- The invasion today is, above all, to renew US firm's
access to Iraqi oil. As reported recently in the New York Times, former
CIA director R. James Woolsey, who has been one of the leading advocates
of forcing Hussein from power, argues that, "It's pretty straightforward,
France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. They should
be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government,
we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American
companies work closely with them. If they throw in their lot with Saddam,
it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi
government to work with them."
- His views are of course supported by the new Iraqi government-in-waiting.
Faisal Qaragholi, the "petroleum engineer who directs the London office
of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an umbrella organization of opposition
groups that is backed by the United States" says that "Our oil
policies should be decided by a government in Iraq elected by the people."
Ahmed Chalabi, the INC leader, put it more bluntly and sadi that he favored
a U.S.-led consortium to develop Iraq's oil fields, which would replace
the existing agreements that Iraq has with Russia and France. "American
companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil," Chalabi said.
- Note also that Bush and company have a personal stake
in unilateral action. According to Leroy Sievers and the Nightline Staff
at ABC, "Dick Cheney's Halliburton Co. had interests in Iraqi oil
production after the [Gulf ] war."
- Thus, following the Gulf War, Cheney, Bush Sr. and others
didn't expect that Saddam would refuse to abide by US interests and join
the so-called "family of nations." This is really what President
Bush Jr meant when he said at a cabinet meeting on Sept. 24, 2002 that
he intends "to hold Saddam Hussein to account for a decade of defiance."
- There is no shock about any of this, nor of the sordid
assortment of officials and individuals directly or indirectly involved
-- from the infamous US-based international arms dealer Sarkis Songhanalian
and former Gen. Secord, to Oliver North and Richard Nixon -- and many others.
They had been part of covert US arms and drug deals and Mafia dating back
decades. Iraqgate was in fact also part of Irangate, and both are about
a shadow government that circumvents domestic and international laws in
arming regimes and terrorist organizations to enhance the profits of US
businessmen and corporations.
- The public learned since the mid-1980s that the shadow
government folks played all sides of various wars, and made curious business
alliances. Profits were good, but there were also ideological reasons.
While arming Iraq and putting proceeds into their pockets, the covert operators
also armed Iran. Israel of course, had also been arming Iran since the
Ayatollah came into power in order to counter Iraq. The US soon joined
these operations after Regan came to power.
- Oliver North, Bush Sr., Dennis McFarlane, and Gen. Secord,
and others purchased from the CIA spare parts for US-made weapons and more
than two thousand TOW missiles, which the CIA had purchased at discount
rates from the Pentagon. Secord and North sold the weapons and parts to
Iran in exchange for cash and the release of US hostages in Lebanon.
- In public, Ronnie Reagan repeatedly condemned negotiations
with terrorists in principle and even stated on national TV that there
had been no negotiations with terrorists. He went back on air a few months
later and said that while he still didn't believe "in his heart"
that the US had negotiated with terrorists, the facts told him "otherwise."
He escaped impeachment because he "couldn't remember" signing
detailed instructions for sales of weapons to Iran and for the diversion
of money to the Contras.
- Insiders considered these trades "business as usual."
Former General Secord, for instance, unashamedly told Congressional investigators
during the Iran-Contra hearings that his arms-dealing firm, the "Enterprise,"
which sold the TOWs to other brokers and then to Iran, was a legitimate
profit-making business. And as we all know, at the other end of the deal,
North channeled a portion of the proceeds from those sales through Swiss
banks and to the terrorist Contras in Honduras. Their job was to overthrow
the Sandinista regime that overthrew the brutal 43-year Somoza family dictatorship
supported by the US.
- Again, in legal terms, the scandal was not only that
Reagan's administration circumvented the Boland Amendment which outlawed
military support to the Contras, but also that the CIA had also mined the
harbors of Nicaragua. When the US was taken to the International Court
of Justice (ICJ) and convicted of violating international laws, President
Reagan disregarded this conviction saying the ICJ had no jurisdiction over
the United States.
- Bush Jr. has stated the following reasons for invading
Iraq, all of which are accurate except the last: (1) Iraq used chemical
weapons, (2) Iraq tried to build nuclear weapons, and (3) the US tried
to bring Iraq into the "family of nations" (said first by Bush
Sr). He is correct that Iraq was willing to use chemical weapons and has
been trying to build nuclear weapons for years. Of course, he just fails
to mention that the US was willing to sell, and to help Iraq use, chemical
weapons of mass destruction and that his friends profited handsomely in
so doing. He also fails to note that today Hussein is not seen as an immediate
threat by it's Arab neighbors, none of whom have called for his ouster,
and that Iraq has only a shadow of the power it had in 1990. There is no
evidence to support Bush or Blair's claims that Iraq has and is preparing
to use chemical or biological weapons.
- Lastly, what about Bush Jr.'s third contention, that
the US had tried to bring Saddam into the "family of nations?"
In view of the thousands upon thousands of women, children, and men butchered
with US battle plans and arms, as well as arms from Europe, one could only
characterize that family as being composed of unscrupulous, profiteering,
vile accomplices to mass murder. Perhaps this is also a reason why the
Bush administration opposes the formation of the World Court and needs
US politicians and military personel exempt from international law.
- Elson E. Boles is an Assistant Professor of Sociology
at Saginaw Valley State University University in Michigan.
- He can be reached at: email@example.com