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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Iraq: a chapter ends « Previous | |Next »
December 15, 2003

I came in from watering trees in the morning dew at Victor Harbor to hear the news reports saying that Saddam Hussein has been captured by the Americans. He'd been trapped like a rat in a farm house near his home town of Tikrit.

It's good news. It closes a very bloody and nightmarish chapter in Iraq's history. The horror of a brutal tyrannical regime has finally come to an end as there is no way that Saddam will come back to power in Iraq after the Americans leave.

The media whores in the corporate media will gloat and the spin machine will spring into action. here's a suggestion: do a Roman thing and march Saddam through New York in chains? Hollywood will handle it.

Seriously though. Will Saddam be brought to justice before an internationally legitimate court of law? Will it be a real trial with a real discovery process, full accountability and lots of public testimony. Or will it be a show trial that goes along with the current whitewash of the West's historical relationship to Iraq. Thus John Howard says:

"I read articles that are critical of the Americans and critical of my government and the implication of those is that Iraq would probably still be better off with Saddam Hussein.You can't have it both ways, you can't say that he was a loathsome dictator and murdered his people and then criticise the people who remove him."

Yes you can. And you can do so and support a democratic Iraq.

The Iraqi regime was brutal terrorist state; but it was supported to the hilt by the West during the Cold War as a defense against the Soviet Union. Paul McGeough in the Sydney Morning Herald reminds us of the details:

"The US Central Intelligence Agency masterminded the 1963 coup that gave the Baathists their first, brief taste of power. And it is said to have provided the lists of communist sympathisers that the young Saddam helped liquidate by the hundred afterwards.

Saddam signed a defence and co-operation treaty with Moscow, greatly troubling Washington and neighbouring Iran. He toured Provence with Jaques Chirac, successfully negotiating the purchase of Mirage fighter jets and a nuclear reactor. In the early 1980s the Italians sold him an entire navy. Jimmy Carter saw him as a bulwark against the Iranian ayatollahs and Soviet expansion, and sold him five Boeing jets. Ronald Reagan sold him Hughes helicopters readily adapted to fire anti-tank missiles. He also sent a young Donald Rumsfeld to curry favour in Baghdad and teams of military advisers to help Baghdad in its war against Iran.

Even after Saddam started using chemical weapons against the Iranians, Margaret Thatcher allowed the sale of sophisticated weapons. Kofi Annan pitched in with advice on how the dictator should dress to be better received in the West."

The Cold War complicity with terror does away with the black and white scenarios of today.

Will the US allow Saddam to reveal all about U.S. complicity in his crimes? It's doubtful.

Reconstruction, state building, security are the themes of the new chapter that is being written. The narrative is about the US being bogged down, yet on a colllision course with Syria. The judgement is the Iraqi resistance to American occuaption will continue. Saddam's capture will not lessen the resistance to the pacification of the Sunni triangle since many other motivations are in play.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:13 AM | | Comments (2)


Perhaps the enforced grey of Cold War complicity with ugly regimes has given us the luxury of a more black and white assessment of these regimes Gary?

One would like to think so.

Alas, US support for Saudi Arabia dashes the hopes somewhat.