“We will observe this day every year as Saddam is in our hearts.”
Ghalib Hammudi, 12/30/07
On December 30, 2006, President Saddam Hussein (for so, under international law, he was) died at the end of a rope in the formerly sovereign nation of Iraq. The American public, which paid for the event, was encouraged to look past the tawdry pageant’s obvious object lessons, inconveniently captured by a trophy-hunting participant’s cell phone camera. Even the cruel US dictatorial Decider George Bush was soon forced to admit that the creepy snuff-job looked like what it was: A “revenge killing.”
Here in Pentagonia, network TV preferred the silent video provided by Iraqi pseudo-State television. It showed only the dignified president, bound hand-and-foot, shuffling onto the gallows’ trap door, and having the giant noose placed around his neck by a hooded retainer wearing a nifty leather jacket.
The grainy cellphone video revealed more. Amid the catcalls, the taunting and the chants for the hit squad’s favorite mullah, the president remained calm. The 69 year-old questioned the manhood of that nervous and furtive crew. For the record,he stated, “The nation will be victorious. Palestine is Arab.”
News accounts report that he was praying as the trap door opened. After the neck-snapping and the residual twitching, some of the “twenty or so” celebrants “began to dance around the body.” (see Telegraph UK, 12/30/06) As the presidential corpse cooled it was rushed north for a quick nighttime burial. No State funeral for this guy. No State.
One year later, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on a commemorative ceremony outside Mr. Hussein’s tomb in Awja. In an accompanying picture, children held flowers, before a carefully lettered sign reading, “We will never forget you, Sheik of Mujaheddin.” Hussein was remembered there “for his role in ‘maintaining the dignity’ of the Iraqi people.” (SMH, 12/31/07)
Former UN Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, speaking at the University of New England’s Biddeford campus a few years ago, pointed out to the small crowd that if Iraqis had enjoyed perhaps fewer “political rights” than some might have wished, they had more economic and social rights than many/most US citizens possessed. Prior to its being bombed by the US “back into the stone age” in 1991, Iraq’s governing party used the country’s oil wealth to provide free post-secondary education, universal health care, and the basics of a civilized, secularized standard of living to its citizens. Women could walk the streets unveiled and unguarded. The main childhood health problem was an increasing obesity rate.
But in 1990, when Hussein’s image went from useful ally/ Reagan’s buddy to a beret-topped Satan in our cartoonish media system, all that had to end. Iraq had supposedly been nothing other than a prison camp full of squalid natives and “So Damn Insane” was the jailer/executioner in chief. That was the official story and few who mattered have disputed it to this day.
Armed with that narrative, our bipartisan political class set about the long-term and grisly project of genocide, infanticide, military and economic warfare designed to bring down the modern nation state of Iraq. The work is quite well along. But few in the US paying public have any real idea what’s been done in their name.
In mid-December a few stories broke on an announcement by the US-backed Iraqi puppet regime. It was about to radically cut back the very efficient State food ration/ distribution system implemented during the murderous Anglo-American “sanctions” period (1990-2003). Press accounts cited the Green Zone bureaucrats’ explanations. The program would need to be halved, they said, because of “insufficient funds and spiraling inflation.” The “nation” which contains the world’s second (or perhaps first) largest oil reserves (most of it light, sweet, and under pressure) seemingly could no longer afford its “deteriorating ration system,” thus increasing “hardships for the majority of Iraqis who depend heavily on the Saddam Hussein-era programme.”
The stuff about “spiraling inflation” sent me back to my dusty filing cabinet. I remembered a wire service story or two clipped from local papers in the early 90s. Item one was buried on a yellowing page 9A. Headline, “Bush launched anti-Saddam tactics last fall,” date 2/9./92. It reported a GHW Bush “finding” that authorized and funded the CIA’s “undermining” of Iraq’s sovereign government. In other words, acts of war.
A few months later (5/27/92), a local reprint of a New York Times story headlined, “Officials: U.S. flooding Iraq with fake money.” It began, “Iraq’s economy is the target of an American-led destabilization campaign to pour vast amounts of counterfeit currency into the country, Arab and Western officials…say.” According to these highly placed sources, “the countries behind the separate counterfeiting operations included Western nations, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel.” The aim was to “weaken the economy to the point where the local currency could become worthless.” This, in the face of government efforts to “respond with an intensified reconstruction program to curtail shortages and restore basic services.” Yes, dear reader, after we’d blown up Iraq’s sewage treatment facilities, bridges, water purification plants, electrical generating facilities, dams, communications networks, and other civilian infrastructure, official American policy was to prevent a rebuilding: To make the economy scream and the people whimper.
Things are even worse now.
Those odious aims were not lost on the world or on the Iraqis themselves. Unlike the US paying public the bombed, embargoed, and beleaguered Mesopotamians had few comforting illusions.
The ’92 counterfeiting story featured this short paragraph: “…the measures buttressed the assertion, shared by a rising number of Iraqi nationalists including Sunni Muslims and Christians, that the West and its allies will not be content with the removal of Saddam Hussein, but only with partitioning and destroying the country.”
The Iraq national project appears to be largely finished, thanks to almost 20 years of American criminality.
Still, Iraqis sometimes at least, remember dignity.
RICHARD RHAMES is a dirt-farmer in Biddeford, Maine whose place is just north of the Kennebunkport town line. Since 1990, Rhames has been the chair of the Biddeford Democratic City Committee, an organization charged with “promoting the ideals of the Party.” He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org