The American people might want a few facts about the real history of U.S.-Iraq relations. Missing chapters from 1980 to the present would be crucial in judging Bush’s case for war. But Americans don’t have those facts because Bush and his predecessors in the White House have kept this history hidden from the American people. When parts of the story have emerged, administrations of both parties have taken steps to suppress or discredit the disclosures. So instead of knowing the truth, Americans have been fed a steady diet of distortions, simplifications and outright lies.
This missing history also is not just about minor details. It goes to the heart of the case against Saddam Hussein, including whether he was an especially “aggressive” and “unpredictable” dictator who had to be removed from power even at the risk of America’s standing in the world and the chance that a war will lead to more terrorism against U.S. targets. For instance, George W. Bush had frequently cited Saddam Hussein’s invasions of neighbors, Iran and Kuwait, as justification for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. “By defeating this threat, we will show other dictators that the path of aggression will lead to their own ruin,” Bush declared. Leaving aside whether Bush’s formulation is Orwellian double-speak – aggression to discourage aggression – there is the historical question of whether Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush actually encouraged Saddam’s aggressions for geopolitical reasons or out of diplomatic incompetence.