Our interest in the Middle East has always been driven by our oil dependence. Could we have developed our own oil resources? Was it orchestrated obsolescence designed to create weakness and vulnerability? Our own resource development would have fostered a huge industry providing jobs and continued economic growth. What prevented that – socialistic government supported policies? Was it the activist environmental groups supported by tax free foundations set up by big money and covert power?
President Carter’s 23 January 1980 State of the Union Address defined our concerns. On 24 December 1979 the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, a relatively small defenseless but strategically positioned oil rich nation. [i] Carter responded to this invasion as follows: “The Muslim world is especially and justifiably outraged by this aggression against an Islamic people.” We were also outraged and denounced the Soviet aggression by imposing economic sanctions against them. We also refused to participate in the Olympic Games scheduled in Moscow.
Carter continued: “The Soviet Union must realize that its decision to use military force in Afghanistan will be costly to every political and economic relationship it values. The region which is now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan is of great strategic importance: It contains more than two-thirds of the world's exportable oil. Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” [ii] This was not merely “humanitarian issues” outrage against the Soviets. It was about oil – it has always been about oil.
Much of the internal Muslim conflict is a result of outside interference. After World War 1 and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the British took control of Iraq. During the war Iraq was promised that they would have independence. However, under the League of Nations, Iraq was placed under British supervision while preparing for complete independence. This understandably enraged the Iraqis and they rebelled in 1920. British aerial bombardment soon put down the rebellion. Iraqi resentment grew over this obvious imperialistic British mentality.
Modern Iraqi borders were designed by the arrogant, interfering British who lopped off Kuwait and then combined three very antagonistic Ottoman areas: the Kurdish to be ruled from Mosul, the Sunni Arab district including Baghdad and the southern Shiite district which included Basra. Kuwait had always been a part of the Basra district. The Sunni, Shia and Kurds had diverse history, interests and goals. But the British had their eye on the oil plus an easy land route to India. This division created an unstable nation that would never unite. This planned instability would lend itself to outside control. The Iraqis are not oblivious – they recognize imperialism and the greed for their oil.
Meanwhile, the Anti-American Ayatollah Khomeini went into an expansionist mode and began inciting Iraq’s Shi¢ite and Kurdish populations to rebel against his enemy, Saddam Hussein. His main goal was to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The Ayatollah attempted to weaken Iraq via the Iranian-backed rebel group Al Dawaa by attempting to assassinate certain Iraqi leaders including an attempt on 1 April 1980 of Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. Saddam outlawed the group and deported individuals who had been born in Iran. In June 1980 the two nations severed diplomatic relations. Khomeini then began to call for the overthrow of Saddam. On 22 September 1980 Saddam Hussein retaliated and invaded Iran for the purpose of squelching the growing influence of the Ayatollah Khomeini on the Iraqi Shi¢ite majority.
By early 1982 Iran appeared to be winning. Iran sent suicide missions against Iraqi strongholds. They also waged terrorist attacks on third parties such as the French and American embassies in Kuwait. In February 1982 our State Department removed Iraq from the list of countries sponsoring international terrorism. In March 1982 Ronald Reagan signed National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM 4-82) requesting a review of our policies in the Middle East with an eye towards assisting Iraq. To prevent the growth of Islamic fundamentalism throughout the Middle East which would greatly impact us economically, the United States offered covert assistance to our old ally, Saddam Hussein.
After Reagan signed the National Security Decision Directive 99 (NSDD 99) on 12 July 1983 regarding “regional stability” (our ability to obtain oil) we provided Saddam with satellite images of Iranian forces. We also channeled $5.5 billion in U.S. Agriculture Department provided taxpayer-guaranteed loans under the auspices of promoting American farm exports but were actually for the purchase of weapons.
In spite of opposition by congress in August 1983, the sale to Iraq of 60 Hughes helicopters and 10 twin engine Bell helicopters was approved. In 1984, the State Department pushed through the sale of 45 Bell 214ST helicopters designed for military purposes worth $200 million to Iraq. [iii]
Our shipments to Iraq were not always the most obvious implements of war – like guns. As early as 1982, we started shipping dual use biological agents [iv] like Bacillus Anthracis (anthrax), a key component of the Iraqi biological warfare program. We also shipped them Clostridium Botulinum, Histoplasma Capsulatum, Brucella Melitensis, and Clostridium Perfringens. [v] Declassified U.S. government documents indicate that Iraq was using chemical weapons "almost daily" during the Iran-Iraq conflict as early as 1983. Iran complained about this to the U.N. Security Council as it was against the Geneva Convention. [vi] The Iraqis were also using our chemicals against the Kurds in 1983. We obviously had first hand knowledge of this chemical warfare because we supplied them with the chemicals.
In as much as we had some culpability in this issue – we had to respond. Our administration responded: we have decided to limit our “efforts against the Iraqi chemical warfare program to close monitoring because of our strict neutrality in the Gulf war, the sensitivity of sources, and the low probability of achieving desired results.” [vii] So basically we will watch them use the chemicals that we supply and profess neutrality because they are going to use the chemicals anyway. Besides they needed to keep an upper hand over the Iranians.
Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 114 on 26 November 1983 regarding our policies toward the Iran-Iraq war. There is no mention of chemical weapons but rather mentions oil flow concerns: defending oil facilities and an assurance of our readiness to prevent disruption oil flow traffic.
The use of chemical weapons is against the 1925 Geneva Protocol. And in 1984 the United States issued a public condemnation of the use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war. However, at that particular time the use of chemical weapons was not justification for regime change. The Ayatollah Khomeini refused to end hostilities unless Saddam Hussein was removed from power. We responded: “The United States finds the present Iranian regime's intransigent refusal to deviate from its avowed objective of eliminating the legitimate government of neighboring Iraq to be inconsistent with the accepted norms of behavior among nations and the moral and religious basis which it claims.” [viii]
So Khomeini had a stubborn insistence that Saddam Hussein be ousted as the legitimate leader of another country because of his chemical weapons usage and the United States responded that it was entirely inconsistent with accepted political policies among governments. Ah, situational circumstances again. This arbitrary policy certainly should raise questions about George W. Bush’s hypocritical use of humanitarian reasons as current justification for regime change.
In December 1983 and again in March 1984, Ronald Reagan sent his personal emissary, Donald Rumsfeld, a former secretary of defense, to meet with Saddam Hussein along with Reagan’s handwritten note. This first meeting on 20 December 1983 was for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Iraq and the United States, the first since the 1967 war. We did not formally restore diplomatic relations with Iraq until November 1984.
On 24 March 1984, the day of Rumsfeld’s visit, the United Nations expressed their understandable allegations about Iraq using chemical weapons against Iran. In spite of this, Rumsfeld continued his talks with Iraq Foreign Minister Tarek Aziz. Whatever appears expedient is justifiable. It is very significant to note that when Rumsfeld called on Saddam Hussein, he was the President and CEO of Searle Pharmaceuticals (1977-1985). Searle developed the first oral birth control pill – Enovid which had a dramatic societal change.
With regard to chemicals, Rumsfeld has never been overly concerned about grave health issues for anyone, whether a foreign enemy during a proxy war or fellow American citizens. It is about money, power and the greater insider agenda. There are no mistakes or miscalculations, but one must wonder about the multitude of coincidences. Rumsfeld knew about Saddam’s use of chemical weapons then – where was his outrage? He said nothing about the gassing of Halabja in 1988. He said nothing until two years later when he was interviewed on an ABC News Special in August 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait and the United States needed compelling invasion justification. It’s all about serving that agenda.
On 13 March 1984 Iraq uses weapons at Hoor-ul-Huzwaizeh. The United Nations verifies this attack in addition to six others between 26 February and 17 March 1984.
In 1985, the U.S. Secretary of State convinced Representative Howard Berman to kill House legislation adding Iraq on the State Department’s list of countries that support terrorism. It was Secretary of State, George Shultz’ assertion that Iraq and the United States had developed a diplomatic dialogue concerning this and that Iraq would not be engaged in international terrorism. And should Iraq’s actions prove otherwise then the U.S. would return Iraq to the terror list. [ix]
Iraq also received millions of dollars in economic aid and loans between 1983 and 1990. There was justifiable concern among some U.S. officials that Iraq would be unable to repay the increasing foreign debt because of their military expenditures. In 1985 The U.S. Export-Import Bank extended more than $684 million in credits so Iraq could build the Aqaba oil pipeline through Jordan. That construction was done by Bechtel Corporation. Reagan Secretary of State, George Schultz was a former Bechtel President. What a coincidence - it is the same privately owned company engaged, since April 2003, in rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure! Interesting, this construction was contracted by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It is significant to note that the reconstruction did not begin until we reestablished our presence in Iraq but prior to Saddam’s publicly announced capture. Saddam was not captured until December, or so we are told! “Bechtel has maintained strong relationships with officials in many United States administrations, including those of Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. The company also has strong ties to other governments, particularly the Saudi Royal Family.” [x]
Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan
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