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Rudiments of a Tyrant's Reign

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Message Ron Fullwood
At the beginning of the Iraq invasion, the Bush regime was at war with the entire country. They couldn't have cared less who they killed or maimed in their rush to occupy. They isolated and drove away the very same sects they now claim they want to share power with the Shiite-dominated authority. They engaged in search and destroy, 'anti-insurgent' raids to suppress these groups before, during, and after the 'elections'.

Now the American cabal seems torn between going back to ignoring the killings (which haven't abated since they started their own carpet-bombings), and using the Iraqi violence as both justification for a permanent occupation and portraying the escalation as another 'evil' that Bush will posture our military to 'defend' the region from as he 'spreads democracy'. The examples of Bush's democracy that he offered with his invasion for those who fell outside of the protected interim authority were of the efficacy of violent overthrow, of military dominance, and bloody suppression to achieve power.

Those are the same lessons we taught Saddam when our government was using his military as a wedge against Iran. As many as 300,000 Iraqis are believed to have been deliberately murdered by the regime in Saddam's "Anfal campaign" against the Kurds, and the assaults on the Marsh Arabs and southern Shi'a populations, which resulted in thousands of more dead.

Between 1977 and 1987, some 4,500-5,000 Kurdish villages were systematically destroyed, and the survivors were forced into concentration camps. Many of the atrocities took place at a time when the U.S. was actively supporting Hussein in a manufactured revolution against the Iranian government, whose leaders had humiliated Americans in the '70's hostage crisis.

Iraq used chemical weapons in 1983-1984, during the Iran-Iraq war. It has been reported that some 20,000 Iranians were killed by mustard gas, and the nerve agents tabun and sarin. In 1988, Iraqi soldiers invaded Kurdistan and rounded up more than 100,000 Kurds and executed them. In March 1988, in the town of Halabja, more than 3,000 civilians died from chemical gas attacks by the Iraqi military.

Iraq has been rightly condemned by the U.S. and most of the international community for these and other deadly actions against its citizens and its neighbors. But Iraq did not operate against its enemies alone or without our knowledge, and in many instances, U.S. support. Nightline, in Sept. 1991 reported that the Atlanta branch of an Italian bank, BNL, was able to funnel billions, some of it in U.S. credits, to Iraq's military. The U.S. apparently knew of the transfers and turned a blind eye.

It was reported that "Sophisticated military technology was illegally transferred from a major U.S. company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to South Africa and Chile and, from there, on to Iraq. The Iraqi-born designer of a chemical weapon plant in Libya set up shop in Florida, producing and then shipping to Iraq chemical weapon components. The CIA, the FBI and other federal agencies were made aware of the operation and did nothing to prevent it."

The report further states: "During the 1980s and into the '90s, senior officials of both the Reagan and Bush administrations encouraged the privatization of foreign policy, certainly toward Iran and Iraq. They made a mockery of the export control system; they found ways of encouraging foreign governments to do what our laws prohibited. They either knew or, if not, were guilty of the grossest incompetence, that U.S. companies were collaborating with foreign arms merchants in the illegal transfer of American technology that helped Saddam Hussein build his formidable arsenal."

It summarizes that, "Iraq, during much of the 1980's and into the '90s, was able acquire sophisticated U.S. technology, intelligence material, ingredients for chemical weapons, indeed, entire weapon-producing plants, with the knowledge, acquiescence and sometimes even the assistance of the U.S. government."

The New York Times reported in Aug. 2002 that during the Reagan administration, the U.S. military provided Saddam with critical intelligence that was used in Iraq's aggression against Iran, at a time when they were clearly using chemical and biological agents in their prosecution of that war.

The United States was an accomplice in the use of these materials at a time when President Reagan's top aides, including then- Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci and Gen. Colin L. Powell, then national security adviser, were publicly condemning Iraq for its use of poison gas, especially after Iraq attacked Kurds in Halabja. The classified support reportedly involved more than 60 military advisers from the Defense Intelligence Agency who provided detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for air strikes and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq.

A retired intelligence officer recalled that, in the military view, "The use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern."

A 1994 Senate Banking Committee report, and a letter from the Centers for Disease Control in 1995, revealed that the U.S. had shipped biological agents to Iraq at a time when Washington knew that Iraq was using chemical weapons to kill thousands of Iranian troops. The reports showed that Iraq was allowed to purchase batches of anthrax, botulism, E. coli, West Nile fever, gas gangrene, dengue fever. The CDC was shipping germ cultures directly to the Iraqi weapons facility in al-Muthanna.

Missing from all of the junior Bush's adventures in nation-building is the provision by the U.S. of any of the tools and levers of actual democracy that the citizens of the region might actually begin to use to achieve any of the liberty and self-determination he pretends he wants for them. They regard most expressions of freedom as obstacles to their consolidation of power. But they assumed that they could replicate the toadies they had initally installed in the interim authority for positions in their new junta.

The dirty secret that they are loath to say out loud is that it has become clear they were ignorant of the way the balance of power would shift away from the advantage they had of Saddam's hostility to the Iranians, to a ruling power in Iraq whose majority openly favors Iran.

The Shiite majority they helped to install will make it harder for Bush to use Iraq as a springboard for future military meddling against Iran or Syria. It must have occurred to someone in the White House that the ascendance of a Shiite majority in Iraq undermines the decades of coddling we gave to Saddam to keep the Iranians from gaining influence in the region. Bush's invasion and occupation helped the very elements our government tried for decades to eliminate realize positions of power in Iraq that they couldn't have dreamed of winning from the battlefield.

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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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