Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Cherry-Picking History in Iraq


We now approach the 22nd anniversary of a troubling handshake in Baghdad; December 22nd, 1983. President Ronald Reagan’s Middle East envoy, Donald Rumsfeld, was in town meeting with Iraq President Saddam Hussein in what was nothing short of slanted real politik.

Several overtures had been extended toward Iraq. It was removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist states in February 1982 . Reagan’s administration then seeded Hussein’s regime with loans , financing and even military and intelligence assistance – in direct conflict of stated policy of neutrality regarding the Iran-Iraq war. This was followed by White House policy writs ahead of reviving full diplomacy during November 1984. Clearly at that time, his atrocities meant little or nothing to the Reagan Administration or the general political establishment.

Sure, Hussein is someone you don’t want to cross paths with given his history. But obviously that did not stop the U.S. from pursuing , upgrading and maintaining relations despite being fully aware of intelligence verifying claims from Iran of the deployment of incendiary weapons by Iraq. A declassified memo (available at dated November 21, 1983 discussing the Iraqi weapons program stated “We have recently received additional information confirming Iraqi use of chemical weapons (CW). We also know that Iraq has acquired a CW production capability, primarily from Western firms, including possibly a U.S. foreign subsidiary’. Furthermore, the official reaction was ” It is important to make our approach to the Iraqi’s on the issue as early as possible, in order to deter further Iraqi use of CW, as well as to avoid unpleasantly surprising Iraq through public positions we may have to take on this issue”. Why the political concern over ‘surprising Iraq through public positions’?

The current Bush administration continues to make much fanfare about Saddam Hussein’s past of biological and chemical weapons in making the case for war and occupation in Iraq. Why does the Bush administration refuse to speak with candor about U.S. foreign policy towards Iraq in its full scope? What’s the harm in addressing the historical record? Perhaps, some details would be embarrassing or bothersome. The administration has cornered itself and now is reeling from numerous setbacks and blunders in the Iraq war and certainly poll numbers here and Iraq are stacked against business as usual and staying the course.

At best, the administration is only dangerously incompetent. At worst, its chief players blatantly went to all lengths to sell the war and of course woefully insinuate that Iraq posed a threat in the ‘neighborhood’ or around the world. From alleged links to al-Qaeda, to the phantom mobile weapons labs , and the supposed stockpiles of a broad, dynamic and capable weapons programs, much of the rhetoric is ringing hollow given that things are not turning out as advertised. The bubbly predictions of a quick successful war in which our troops would be greeted as liberators proved to be fleeting.

Our past ventures doomed this war to failure before it even started. We turned the blind eye to Hussein’s atrocities throughout the 1980s. On July 25, 1990, April Glaspie, U.S. ambassador to Iraq during the elder Bush administration, met with Saddam Hussein a week ahead of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait (thus in effect, green lighting it) relaying, “We have no opinion on your Arab – Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) 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”. At the conclusion of the Gulf War, the U.S. government stood by idly as a popular rebellion was brewing in Iraq. Given the public record why would the U.S. government assume that we maintained any level of moral authority or trust in Iraq?

Fault certainly lies with the Bush administration for the quagmire we’re in. However , an alarming majority of Congress (Republican and Democrats) gave the green light . An explanation is in order. Millions of ordinary Americans and many more around the world did not need security clearances, cherry-picked intelligence and typical bi-partisan Beltway blather to form a sound position against the war. At this point, it is time support our troops with an unconditional immediate pull-out, followed by a real candid national discussion on exactly how and why we got in this mess. It is time for accountability and answers.

JONATHAN CRONIN is an Austin resident. He can be reached at .


More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future