January 01, 2007
by Jerry West
George Bush's New Year's present to the world was the death of Saddam Hussein by hanging in Iraq on December 30. Of course the argument will be made that it wasn't the US that hanged Saddam, but the Iraqi people who tried and found him guilty of crimes against humanity in an Iraqi court. Yeah, and the moon is made of green cheese, too.
The Iraqi government and the court that tried Saddam are constructs of the Bush administration and survive only because of the force of US arms. The charges and the proceedings of in the trial itself were no doubt vetted and approved by US authorities. The fact that Saddam was railroaded through this kangaroo court instead of being taken before the International Criminal Court and tried for his crimes speaks volumes about the disrespect that the US has for the international community, international standards and the rule of law on an international scale.
There is no doubt that Saddam was a brutal tyrant, and no doubt that he should have been held responsible for his crimes against humanity. The problem for the US, though, and many other western nations, was how to hold him responsible without getting tarred with the same brush. The things that Saddam did were little different than some of the things that the US and other powers have done, even in the recent past, and those who helped him do these things when it was to their convenience and profit are none other than the US and other powers that are now condemning him.
Iraq, from conception after the First World War to 1958 was a monarchy controlled by British and American interests who were in it for the oil. The vast majority of Iraqis lived in poverty, most were illiterate, and medical services were scarce. Into this cesspool of poverty and despair stepped Iraqi General Abdul Karim Kassem who overthrew the monarchy and established a republic. The western allies went berserk and sent troops to Lebanon and Jordan to contain the spread of the revolution. They also planned an invasion of Iraq, which they never executed, and funded Kurdish guerillas to fight the Iraqi government.
Enter Saddam Hussein, who as a CIA assassin was part of a plot to kill Kassem in 1959. The plot failed and Saddam was whisked away to exile, eventually winding up in Egypt. In 1960 Kassem helped to found OPEC which challenged western control of oil, and in 1962 he formed a state owned Iraqi oil company, threatening the dominance of western oil companies in Iraq. Kassem also laid claim to Kuwait, and in 1963 he was overthrown by the Ba'ath Party in a CIA backed coup that included Saddam Hussein.
Part of the arrangement between the CIA and the Ba'ath Party was that the Party would eliminate Iraq's leftists. Thousands of names were provided by the CIA to the Party as a death list, and the killings commenced under the direction of Saddam. United Press International quotes one US State Department official at the time as saying "We were frankly glad to be rid of them. You ask that they get a fair trial? You have to be kidding. This was serious business."
By 1979 Saddam had risen from head of Iraqi security to President of the republic. Also in that year Iran seized the US Embassy in Tehran, taking Americans hostage. Subsequently in 1980, conveniently for the US, Saddam started a war with Iran that dragged on for eight years and killed almost two million people. Saddam was aided, even encouraged, in this crime against humanity by the US, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other countries, a crime which included the use of poison gas. A use condoned by the United States.
In 1988 Saddam used poison gas against Kurds in Iraq who were seen to be friendly to Iran. Again the US condoned this use and even planted false stories laying the blame on Iran.
At the end of the Iran/Iraq war Iraq was broke and oil production was down due to war damage. Kuwait, which historically could be considered a part of what is now Iraq, held a huge chunk of the Iraqi debt. It refused to give Iraq relief and refused to cut oil production to raise the price of oil and help Iraq.
In meeting between Saddam and US Ambassador April Glaspie on July 25, 1990, Saddam asked "we will give up all of the Shatt to defend our claims on Kuwait to keep the whole of Iraq in the shape we wish it to be. What is the United States' opinion on this?" Glaspie replied: " We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960's, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America."
On July 31 the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs, testified to Congress that the "United States has no commitment to defend Kuwait and the U.S. has no intention of defending Kuwait if it is attacked by Iraq."
On August 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and started the Gulf War. It was an American set up.
As a result of the Gulf War, the period of sanctions that followed, and the current war started based on false pretenses, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and those maimed and those rendered homeless beyond counting. Who is to blame, and who are the criminals?
A kangaroo court has condemned, and an American puppet government has hanged, Saddam Hussein. And they hanged him not for his many crimes against humanity, but for the execution of 144 people in 1982, during a war, who were accused of plotting to kill him. Does this make sense? Is it a worse crime than the thousands that he killed in 1963 at the behest of the US government? Is it worse than the thousands gassed while the US stood by and covered for him?
Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and brutal in a brutal world. But his crimes are also those of the United States that used and encouraged that brutality to further its own goals. With the death of Saddam the cases against him of the far more grievous crimes will vanish from the docket, cases that the US certainly does not want to see investigated and exposed to the full extent.
The tragedy of Saddam Hussein is not that he was hanged, but that he was made a scapegoat to protect others far more guilty than himself. There are people in the west at the highest levels of government who should have been standing on the scaffold beside him with nooses also about their necks. Justice has not been served, it has been denied.