David Swanson, OpEd News, October 24, 2006
Rumsfeld and his ally Saddam
The White House has arranged to announce two days before the November 7, 2006, elections a guilty verdict for Saddam Hussein and, no doubt, plans to finally murder him. Meanwhile an appeals process is delaying until at least five days after the elections release of photos of members of the U.S. military and its contractors raping and murdering children and adults at Abu Ghraib.
While use of the death penalty is one of many American practices that much of the world views as barbaric, there can be little doubt that Saddam Hussein is guilty of major crimes stretching far beyond those he’s been tried for, and including many in which the United States has been complicit.
A famous image shows Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein. There’s nothing wrong with shaking hands with a dictator. It’s potentially far more productive than slaughtering 650,000 of his nation’s people. Bush should be shaking hands and talking with the leaders of Iran and North Korea rather than threatening to destroy their countries. The trouble is that Rumsfeld wasn’t meeting with Hussein in order to promote democracy. Rumsfeld was there on December 20, 1983, as a special envoy for President Ronald Reagan to assist in Iraq’s efforts to kill Iranians, including through the use of chemical weapons – an illegal practice that Rumsfeld has more recently used himself against civilians in Iraq, most notably in Fallujah.
The Reagan administration knew that Iraq was using chemical weapons. Nonetheless, following Rummy’s visits in December of 1983 and March of 1984, the United States established full diplomatic ties with Iraq on November 26, 1984. Reagan and Rummy and the rest of the truly Neo cons also supplied Iraq with helicopters and other “dual use” equipment and materials (including anthrax), provided intelligence and satellite data to assist Iraq’s bombing raids on Iran, prevented passage of strong Senate legislation cutting off assistance to Iraq, and prevented any UN Security Council resolution that would have directly condemned Iraq by insisting that Iran was also using chemical weapons. When Iraq used chemical weapons to slaughter Kurds in Halabja in March of 1988, the Reagan administration falsely blamed Iran. The George Bush Sr. administration continued to supply Iraq with weapons, despite Iraq’s then real chemical and biological weapons programs, until the day before Iraq invaded Kuwait, August 2, 1990.
For all the crimes that Saddam Hussein committed, with and without U.S. assistance or approval, it is noteworthy that there was no terrorism in the nation he controlled, not until we spent over $400 billion of our U.S. tax dollars to transform Iraq into the “central front in the War on Terror” and a training ground for a generation of terrorists.
In the course of making the world less safe for democracy, Donald Rumsfeld has overseen the slaughter of 650,000 Iraqis and 3,000 Americans. He has targeted civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances. He has used white phosphorous as a weapon on civilian families. He has used depleted uranium and a new form of napalm. (When did melting the skin off children become a family value?) He has approved the hiding of prisoners from the Red Cross, the detention of Americans and non-Americans without charge or counsel, and the use of torture. Acceptable torture techniques at Abu Ghraib were posted on the wall in a memo from Rumsfeld.
So, by all means, let’s talk about Saddam Hussein’s guilt and how much fun it will be to kill him. But let’s remember who supported him for decades. And let’s ask ourselves what the 650,000 Iraqis we’ve killed already were guilty of. Wasn’t the plan to liberate them, not murder them? Here is guilt aplenty for Rumsfeld, Bush, and Cheney, and the corporate interests they serve.