Monday, December 14, 2009

Saddam was a monster the West helped create

From a 1990 WP article:

'During its eight-year war against Iran, Iraq became the world's largest retail purchaser of arms. But in recent years, it also has sought the technology to develop its own arms industry, both to free itself from dependence on foreign suppliers and to develop the kind of doomsday armaments -- nuclear bombs, chemical and biological weapons, ballistic missiles -- that would make Iraq the Arab world's dominant power.

Experts say the development of Iraq's arms industry has its roots in the desire to lead the Arab world, as well as in Israel's humiliation of the Arab states in the 1967 Six-Day War. Saddam, whose Baath Socialist Party took power in Iraq the following year, saw the Israeli experience as a lesson in how a small but resourceful nation could become a regional superpower.

He began to put his program into practice in the mid-1970s, secretly launching projects to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, intelligence sources say.

Some of those weapons are already available and likely to be used by Iraq in any military showdown with U.S. forces. The bleak irony is that much of the technology and expertise that created those weapons was bought by Iraq in the West, sometimes by deception but often with the silent acquiescence of Western governments. Those sales continued even after Saddam's regime was accused of using chemical weapons against Iran and Iraq's own Kurdish citizens.

W. Seth Carus, defense analyst with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the combination of petrodollars and technological help from the West made Iraq a new phenomenon in the Third World. "Iraq is a unique case. No one's really done this before," he said.

Everyone, it seems, took a slice of the Iraqi arms pie. The Soviet Union, France, China and Chile sold Baghdad much of its off-the-shelf weaponry. West Germany, France, Britain, the United States, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and Brazil all sold the components, machines and tools -- much of it material with civilian as well as military application -- that are the building blocks of the modern Iraqi war machine.

As a result, military and intelligence analysts say, Iraq can make some of its own chemical weapons, has a fledgling nuclear-weapons program that could produce a bomb in five years or less and is working on a long-range missile that would enable it to deliver such a bomb to Tel Aviv, Tehran or Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

"This is a Frankenstein monster that the West created," said Hans-Heino Kopietz, Middle East analyst with Control Risks Group, a private security firm here. "We closed our eyes because some businesses wanted to make money and because Saddam was a useful tool against Iran." '

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