Since American diplomacy consistently employed Saddam as our man to keep the mad Muslims in tow, why turn on him? Just to propel Bush’s agenda, or advance the interests of the Israelis? It seems only yesterday when a much younger Rumsfeld made his way to Baghdad at Reagan’s request to convey our best wishes to Saddam Hussein during his war against Iran. Rumsfeld opened the way for financial and military support. At the time, of course, in the early ’80s, they knew Saddam was using poison gas against Iranian troops and his own Kurds. It didn’t bother Reagan. His administration worked hard at the U.N. to avoid having to vote on a resolution condemning the use of gas.
After the first Gulf war, we made use of Saddam once more. Bush’s father sat by while the vanquished Saddam slaughtered thousands of Shiites in southern Iraq, quashing them temporarily as a political force and sending a warning to Iran not to start anything.
Saddam and his Baathist goons were always our handmaidens against the Shiites. So it makes sense that when confronted with defeat in Iraq, we turn matters over once more to Saddam’s old colleagues.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 27, 2004