December 22, 2003

Rumsfeld, Bechtel and Iraq

Two more soldiers died in Iraq over night. For what? A
foolish military adventure, a neo-con wet dream, a
phoney war staged with real bloodshed for domestic
political consumption by a complicit corporatist
media, the war-profiteering of the _resident's cronies
and sponsors...How many Americans know that Saddam was
actually being held by Kurds, who then left him in
that hole for the US soldiers to "capture" in time to
boost the _resident plunging poll numbers for the
"holidays" news cycle? How many Americans know that
the Thanksgiving "turkey" the _resident held for the
cameras at the Baghdad airport was fake? How many
Americans even know that the _resident only spent 20
minutes in that dining room and only two and a half
hours on the ground in Iraq?

End the War-Profiteering of the Bush Cabal Cronies, Show
Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)

Rumsfeld, Bechtel and Iraq

Well, the Democratic Party seems too nice or inept to
do anything with it, but as the Washington Post points
out, the good folks at the National Security Archive
are continuing to document the long history of
Republican Party coddling of Saddam Hussein, and their
hypocritical winking at his use of weapons of mass
destruction in the 1980s.

The Archive incidentally shows that the Bechtel
Corporation actively connived to subvert 1988
Congressional sanctions on Iraq for using weapons of
mass destruction by seeking non-US subcontractors.
Bechtel was awarded an Iraq reconstruction contract by
US AID last spring worth at least $640 million. Yup,
some American corporations have long been deeply
concerned about the dangers of weapons of mass
destruction and the moral evil of genocide.

It turns out that Don Rumsfeld actually went to Iraq
twice, once in 1983, and again in 1984. The work
Rumsfeld did in 1983 of beginning a rapprochement
between Reagan and Saddam was detracted from by a
strong State Department condemnation of Iraqi use of
chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war. Schultz told
Rumsfeld to explain to Saddam [warning: PDF] that the
Reagan administration did not actually, really have
any serious objections to, like, exterminating Iranian
troops like cockroaches with poison gas. It was just a
general, unspecific blanket condemnation of that sort
of thing, you know, to keep up appearances. Sort of
like when the US was against genocide in general but
didn't really mind so much the one conducted in
Indonesia against hundreds of thousands of leftists in
1965. So, Saddam should feel comfortable about
Reagan's desire to continually improve bilateral
Reagan-Saddam relations at a pace of Saddam's
choosing, and not be put off by the unfortunate but
necessary pro forma condemnations of him as a war
criminal issued at silly old Foggy Bottom.

The document also reveals two other things on which
the press hasn't widely remarked. George H. W. Bush
was deeply involved in this Saddamist démarche, he was
the one who extended an invitation to high Baathist
official Tariq Aziz to come to Washington.

And, Schultz told both Rumsfeld and Saddam that the US
was trying to curb weapons flows to Iran. Yet it is
well known that Israel was supplying Iran with
weaponry in return for Iranian oil. Only a little over
a year later, Schultz double-crossed Saddam by getting
on board with the Iran-Contra weapons exchange, which
was suggested by the Israelis in the first place. The
White House illegally sold Iran hundreds of powerful
TOW anti-tank and HAWK anti-aircraft weapons [which
Reagan came on television and told us were
shoulder-launched weapons!], for use against
Washington's newfound ally, the Iraqis, who were being
assured that the US was trying hard to "prevent an
Iranian victory . . ."

These weapons sales contravened US law, under which
Iran was tagged as a terrorist nation. (Even today I
can get into trouble for so much as editing a paper by
an Iranian scholar for publication in a US scholarly
journal, but it was all right for the Republicans and
Neocons to send Khomeini 1000 TOWs!) Not only that,
but Reagan's team then turned around and used the
money garnered from these off-the-books sales to
support the contra death squads in Nicaragua. In the
US Constitution, how to spend government money is the
purview of Congress, and Congress had told Reagan "no"
on funding the death squads. So Reagan's people
essentially stole weapons from the Pentagon
storehouses, shipped them to Israel for transfer to
Ayatollah Khomeini, and then took the ill gotten gains
from fencing the stolen goods and gave them to
nun-murderers in Latin America.

Here's the timeline:

July -- An Israeli official suggests a deal with Iran
to then-national security adviser Robert McFarlane,
saying the transfer of arms could lead to release of
Americans being held hostage in Lebanon. McFarlane
brings the message to President Reagan.
Aug. 30 -- The first planeload of U.S.-made weapons is
sent from Israel to Tehran. Two weeks later the first
American Hostage is released.
Dec. 5 -- Reagan secretly signs a presidential
'finding,' or authorization, describing the operation
with Iran as an arms-for-hostages deal.

Jan. 17 -- Reagan signs a finding authorizing CIA
participation in the sales and ordering the process
kept secret from Congress.
April -- Then-White House aide Oliver North writes a
memo outlining plans to use $12 million in profits
from Iran arms sales for Contra aid. "

Where are they now?

George P. Shultz is the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford
Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He was
sworn in on July 16, 1982, as the sixtieth U.S.
secretary of state and served until January 20, 1989.
In January 1989, he rejoined Stanford University as
the Jack Steele Parker Professor of International
Economics at the Graduate School of Business and a
distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is
a member of the board of directors of Bechtel Group,
Fremont Group, Gilead Sciences, and Charles Schwab &
Co. He is chairman of the International Council of J.
P. Morgan Chase and chairman of the Accenture Energy
Advisory Board. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom,
the nation's highest civilian honor, on January 19,
1989. He also received the Seoul Peace Prize (1992),
the Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service
(2001), and the Reagan Distinguished American Award

Schultz strongly supported the war against Iraq, on
the grounds that Saddam had used chemical weapons in
the 1980s.

Elliot Abrams, a convicted criminal who lied to
Congress about the shady goings-on in Central America
and a long-time supporter of the far rightwing Likud
Party, was appointed by W. as the National Security
Council advisor for Arab-Israeli affairs. Perhaps it
was Abrams who told W. that Ariel Sharon, the Butcher
of Beirut, is "a man of peace."

Donald Rumsfeld is the Secretary of Defense of the
United States, and supported the war against Iraq,
partially on the grounds that Saddam had used chemical
weapons in the 1980s.

George H. W. Bush is the former president of the
United States. His invitee, Tariq Aziz, is in a US
prison at the Baghdad Airport.

Oliver North, a convicted criminal, has been given a
cushy job on Fox television by its owner, eccentric
far rightwing Australian billionnaire Rupert Murdoch.

Saddam Hussein is in a US prison at the Baghdad

Ronald Reagan is being considered above criticism by
the US Right, which pressured CBS to cancel a
mini-series on his life that was anything less than
absolutely adoring, and is now being proposed as a
replacement on the US dime or 10 cent piece for
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the defeater of the Axis.

Posted by richard at December 22, 2003 10:13 AM