Our Ba’athists


"When the Second World War/came to an end/We forgave the Germans/And we were friends/Though they murdered six million/In the ovens they fried/The Germans now too/Have God on their side." –Bob Dylan

In his inexhaustible quest to turn Operation Iraqi Freedom (sic) into another Good War, President (sic) Bush has taken a page from post-war Germany. As reported by everyone from the Wall Street Journal to the World Socialist Website (WSWS), the U.S. is installing former Ba’ath Party officials into positions of power throughout Iraq, i.e.

Zuhair Al-Noaime is Baghdad’s new police chief. Prior to this role, he joined the Iraqi police in 1966 and held the rank of general. According to the British Independent, the former informer networks of the Ba’athist political police, the Mukhabarat are now operating in Baghdad "neighborhood watches." Fah Haran, the new mayor of the northern Iraqi town of Bayji, was a leading Ba’athist. Ghalib Kubba, appointed by the British to run Basra, is (according to the Los Angeles Times) "a partner of Uday Hussein [Saddam’s son]. It’s well known. All commercial people from the first class in Iraq, all of them are partners of Saddam Hussein." "The Christian Science Monitor reported on April 21 that the Bush administration refused to endorse a proposal by exiled Iraqi lawyers for large-scale prosecution of Ba’athists" said James Conachy on the WSWS. A lawyer told the Monitor: "There is a bit of ambivalence [in the Bush administration] about moving ahead with it. There’s a fear that if they [the Iraqis] have an independent structure for the judiciary, it would interfere with political plans."

Marine Lieutenant Colonel William Schafer summed up the situation for the Wall Street Journal: "You could say that everyone here worked for Saddam Hussein because if you didn’t, you didn’t survive. No one is totally clean, so you look at the levels of what people did."

All this (and more) takes place as the U.S. media drones on about the successful model of German "de-Nazification." To accept this premise, however, would be to ignore the fact that immediately upon the defeat of Germany, the United States went about recruiting Nazis to help with the next good war…against the USSR.

Besides higher profile criminals like Klaus Barbie and Reinhard Gehlen, some those "recruits" included: Alois Brunner (a.k.a. "Georg Fischer"): Sentenced to death (in abstensia) by the French government for crimes against humanity, he was known for his lack of compassion for Jewish children, labeling them "future terrorists" who must be murdered. SS officer Baron Otto von Bolschwing: A senior aide to the notorious Adolf Eichmann, von Bolschwing assisted in drawing up the SS’s "first comprehensive program for the systematic robbery of Europe’s Jews." Under his orders, some of the many Jewish victims in a 1941 Bucharest pogrom were butchered in a meat packing plant, hung on hooks, and literally branded as "kosher meat," while others-including a five-year-old girl-were skinned alive and left hanging by their feet like slaughtered livestock. Von Bolschwing himself stated that in 1945, "he volunteered his services to the Army CIC, which used him for interrogation and recruitment of other former Nazi intelligence officers." SS Obersturmführer Robert Verbelen: Sentenced to death in abstentia for war crimes, including the torture of two U.S. Air Force pilots, after the war, Verbelen served in Vienna as a contract spy for the U.S. Army-which was completely aware of his background. Dr. Kurt Blome: The admitted leader of Nazi biological warfare research, a program that included experimentation on prisoners in concentration camps. In 1947, he was acquitted of crimes against humanity and then hired by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps "to conduct a new round of biological weapons research." Dr. Arthur Rudolph: Blome’s colleague, Rudolph was accused "in sworn testimony at Nuremberg of committing atrocities at the Nazis’ underground rocket works near Nordhausen but was later given U.S. citizenship and a major role in the U.S. missile program."

Investigative reporter Christopher Simpson explains another aspect of this model of "de-Nazification": "Many leaders of Wall Street and of the U.S. foreign policy establishment had maintained close ties with their German counterparts since the 1920s, some having intermarried or shared investments. This went so far in the 1930s as the sale in New York of bonds whose proceeds helped finance the Aryanization of companies and real estate looted from German Jews…U.S. investment in Germany accelerated rapidly after Hitler came to power." Such investment increased "by some 48.5 percent between 1929 and 1940, while declining sharply everywhere else in continental Europe." These pre-war business liaisons carried right on over into the post-war tribunals. "The dominant faction of America’s establishment had always opposed bringing Germany’s elite to trial," Simpson adds.

The impact these "former" Nazis had on shaping U.S. policy towards the USSR was vast. The number of humans who suffered and died because of the resultant Cold War is beyond calculation.

Today’s powerless and disenfranchised might wonder: What role will "former" Ba’athists play in the future of Iraq, the Middle East, and elsewhere?

MICKEY Z. is the author of The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet and an editor at Wide Angle. He can be reached at: mzx2@earthlink.net.

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