you think you've heard it all in terms of U.S. imperialist hypocrisy,
lies, manipulation, and mass slaughter-wait. There's more.
the U.S. government is beating the drums for a preemptive war on Iraq.
President Bush casually-dressed on his month-long Texas vacation, talks
casually of "regime change" in Baghdad--a euphemism for a U.S. military
assault that could cost tens of thousands of Iraqi lives.
pros and cons of various battle plans--like an "inside-out" blitzkrieg
on Baghdad with 50,000 to 100,000 U.S. troops and massive
airstrikes-are publicly, and shamelessly, discussed in the media. And
The New York Times reported (August 19) "the first tangible signs of a
logistical buildup around Iraq."
evidence has been produced that Iraq can militarily threaten the U.S.,
or had anything to do with September 11. Yet those ruling the U.S.
empire still demand Saddam's head. Why? Because, they claim, the
Hussein regime is trying to acquire "weapons of mass destruction"-- and
has shown a willingness to use them. Bush officials have repeatedly
cited Iraq's use of poisonous gas in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War as
proof -- and justification for an attack.
the Times has revealed that when Iraq's government did use chemical
weapons against Iranian forces and its own Kurdish population, the U.S.
government was there - aiding and abetting!
Times ("Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas,"
8/18/02) reported that, according to senior military officers with
direct knowledge of the secret program, U.S. officials "provided Iraq
with critical battle planning assistance at a time when American
intelligence agencies knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical
weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war."
long been known that the U.S. gave Iraq satellite intelligence and
other military support to prevent an Iranian victory. What's new in the
Times story is the extent of U.S. involvement: "More than 60 officers
of the Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] were secretly providing
detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for
battles, plans for airstrikes and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq."
Pentagon program continued even when it became clear that the Iraqi
military "had integrated chemical weapons throughout their arsenal and
were adding them to strike plans that American advisers either prepared
or suggested." The obvious implication -- not drawn by the Times -- is
that U.S. plans were shaped by the knowledge that Iraq would use
chemical weapons. The Washington Post's Bob Woodward reported as much
(12/15/86): in1984 the CIA began giving Iraq intelligence which it used
to "calibrate" its mustard gas attacks against Iranian troops. An
estimated 50,000 Iranians were killed by Iraqi gas warfare. (Bruce
Jentleson, With Friends Like These - Reagan, Bush, and Saddam,
1982-1990, p. 77)
DIA officer told the Times that the Pentagon "wasn't so horrified by
Iraq's use of gas. It was just another way of killing people -- whether
with a bullet or phosgene, it didn't make any difference." Another U.S.
intelligence officer said, "The use of gas on the battlefield by the
Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern." The Times
continues, "What Mr. Reagan's aides were concerned about, he said, was
that Iran not break through to the Fao Peninsula and spread the Islamic
revolution to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia."
other words, the U.S. rulers have no problem with chemical weapons and
mass slaughter--so long as it serves their strategic interests.
The Times' Revelations - Scratching the Surface
Times' revelations may be shocking, but they only scratch the surface
of the enormously cynical, manipulative, and murderous actions taken by
the U.S. during the Iran-Iraq war. An equally sordid story could have
been how the U.S. may well have helped start the war in the first
early 1979, the Shah of Iran, the U.S.'s loyal Persian Gulf gendarme,
was overthrown. The U.S. Embassy in Teheran was seized by militant
students in November, and a month later, on Christmas eve, the Soviet
Union invaded neighboring Afghanistan.
developments shocked the U.S. establishment. They threatened to
undermine its grip on the oil-rich Gulf, and possibly hand their Soviet
rivals a major geopolitical gain. The U.S. counter-attacked, and one
front (and there were many) seems to have been encouraging Iraq to
invade Iran. The goals: weakening Iran and limiting its ability to
undermine U.S. clients in the Gulf, while creating opportunities for
increased American leverage in both countries and building up the
U.S.'s direct military presence in the region.
surprisingly, Carter administration officials deny they gave Iraq a
"green light" for its September 22, 1980 invasion. Yet there is
evidence that they did just that. On April 14, 1980, five months before
Iraq's invasion, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National
Security Advisor, signaled the U.S.'s willingness to work with Iraq:
"We see no fundamental incompatibility of interests between the United
States and Iraq...we do not feel that American- Iraqi relations need to
be frozen in antagonisms." In June, Iranian students revealed a secret
memo from Brzezinski to then-Secretary of State Cyrus Vance
recommending the "destabilization" of Iran's Islamic Republic via its
to Iran's president at the time, Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr, Brzezinski met
directly with Saddam Hussein in Jordan two months before the Iraqi
assault. Bani-Sadr wrote, "Brzezinski had assured Saddam Hussein that
the United States would not oppose the separation of Khuzestan (in
southwest Iran) from Iran." Journalist Robert Parry reports
(Consortiumnews.com, 1/31/96) that in a secret 1981 memo summing up a
trip to the Middle East, then-Secretary of State Al Haig noted, "It was
also interesting to confirm that President Carter gave the Iraqis a
green light to launch the war against Iran through [then Prince, later
Financial Times reported that the U.S. passed satellite intelligence to
the Hussein regime via third countries, leading Iraq to believe Iranian
forces would quickly collapse if attacked (they didn't). So, while the
U.S. media talks long and loud about Saddam Hussein the "brutal
aggressor," the U.S. most likely helped push Iraq into a long, bloody
Supplying and Manipulating Both Sides
New York Times could also have delved into how the U.S. helped arm both
Iran and Iraq, and then manipulated them in order to make sure neither
won a decisive victory. In 1983, one U.S. official declared, "We don't
give a damn as long as the Iran-Iraq carnage does not affect our allies
or alter the balance of power." (Dilip Hiro, The Longest War, p. 121)
1982, the war's momentum had shifted to Iran, which was threatening
Basra, Iraq's second largest city. According to a 1995 affidavit by
Reagan National Security Council staffer Howard Teicher (which the U.S.
government demanded the court seal for "national security" reasons),
"In the Spring of 1982, Iraq teetered on the brink of losing its war
with Iran.... In June, 1982, President Reagan decided that the United
States...would do whatever was necessary and legal to prevent Iraq from
losing the war with Iran." (RealHistoryArchives.com)
states that after Reagan signed a secret National Security Directive in
June 1982, "The United States actively supported the Iraqi war effort
by supplying the Iraqis with billions of dollars of credits, by
providing U.S. military intelligence and advice to the Iraqis, and by
closely monitoring third country arms sales to Iraq to make sure that
Iraq had the military weaponry required."
cluster bombs were a U.S. favorite. "CIA Director [William] Casey was
adamant that cluster bombs were a perfect `force multiplier,' for
Iraq," Teicher states, and "the CIA authorized, approved and assisted
Cardoen [the supplier] in the manufacture and sale of cluster bombs and
other munitions to Iraq."
an 8-year period, the U.S. gave Iraq some $5 billion in economic aid,
and encouraged its allies to provide Iraq billions worth of arms. The
British sold Iraq tanks, missile parts, and artillery; the French
provided howitzers, Exocet missiles, and Mirage jet fighters; and the
West Germans supplied technology used in Iraqi plants that reportedly
produced nerve and mustard gas.
U.S. also directly supplied Iraq with biological weapons. Author
William Blum writes that according to a 1994 Senate Committee Report,
"From 1985, if not earlier, through 1989, a veritable witch's brew of
biological materials were exported to Iraq by private American
suppliers pursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department
of Commerce." (Counterpunch, 8/20/02)
deadly mix included anthrax, botulism, and E. coli bacteria. Blum adds
that the Senate Report stated, "these microorganisms exported by the
United States were identical to those the United Nations inspectors
found and removed from the Iraqi biological warfare program."
A Cynical Strategy of Tilts
the Iran-Iraq War, the U.S. cynically tilted to one side, then the
other, to advance its overall agenda--which included trying to regain
influence in Iran. A May 1985 CIA memo to Director Casey said, "Our
tilt to Iraq was timely when Iraq was against the ropes and the Islamic
revolution was on a roll. The time may now have to come to tilt
U.S. secretly encouraged Israel to ship Iran arms in the early 1980s,
and then began directly supplying weapons to the Islamic Republic in
1985 as part of the infamous Iran-Contra affair. In September 1986,
Reagan official Oliver North even promised Iran the U.S. could "bring
our influence to bear with certain friendly Arab nations" to oust the
in February 1986, while these secret discussions were taking place,
Iran scored a major victory by capturing Iraq's Fao Peninsula. The New
York Times (1/19/87) reported that Iraqi officials believed that their
defeat at Fao "was due to faulty U.S. intelligence." Iraq detected
Iranian troop movements, the Iraqi official said, but the U.S. "kept on
telling us that the Iranian attack was not aimed against Fao."
fact, "American intelligence agencies provided Iran and Iraq with
deliberately distorted or inaccurate intelligence data in recent
years," the Times reported (1/12/87). The motive, captured in the Times
headline: "Keeping Either Side From Winning." Or, as Henry Kissinger
coldly put it, "too bad they can't both lose."
his book Veil - The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987, Woodward sums up
the results of this U.S. double-dealing: "Doling out tactical data to
both sides put the agency in the position of engineering a stalemate.
This was no mere abstraction. The war was a bloody one....almost a
million had been killed, wounded or captured on both sides. This was
not a game in an operations center. It was slaughter." (p. 507)
Tilting Back Toward Baghdad
of an Iraqi defeat and the collapse of the U.S.'s backroom dealings
with Iran led the U.S. to tilt back toward Iraq. Woodward writes that
in late 1986 "Casey had met with senior Iraqis to...encourage more
attacks on Iran, especially against economic targets." Teicher states
that, "In 1986, President Reagan sent a secret message to Saddam
Hussein telling him that Iraq should step up its air war and bombing of
Iran..." This took place during the "war of the cities," when many
Iraqi bombing raids were directed against economic and civilian targets.
1988, after an Iraqi poison gas attack that killed some 5,000 Kurds at
Halabja in northern Iraq, U.S. aid to Iraq actually increased.
According to the Los Angeles Times (2/13/91), U.S. intelligence
reported that American- supplied helicopters had been used in such
chemical attacks on Iraq's Kurds.
Bush's National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice has recently been on
the stump arguing that the U.S. has a "moral case" for war on Iraq.
only need examine the cesspool of deceit, manipulation and complicity
in mass carnage that comprises the record of U.S. actions in the
Iran-Iraq war to catch the stench of the "morality" guiding Rice and
the rest of the U.S. ruling class. These imperialists thought nothing
of encouraging and aiding a gruesome slaughter which, by most accounts,
led to the killing or wounding of over a million Iranians and Iraqis.
war the U.S. now threatens on Iraq would be equally criminal,
enormously destructive, and motivated, as before, solely by concerns of
empire and global domination. It must be opposed now, before it begins.
Everest is a correspondent for the Revolutionary Worker newspaper and
author of Behind the Poison Cloud: Union Carbide's Bhopal Massacre. He
traveled to Iraq in 1991 and shot the video Iraq: War Against the
People. He can be reached at email@example.com and his articles found at www.rwor.org.