Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Saddam was a monster the World helped create

A few days ago I found and posted an article about the western countries that sold weapons to Saddam.  I called it "Saddam was a monster the West helped create".  Today I thought more about who helped Saddam become powerful and I remembered that Russia also sold weapons to his regime, as did China.  I searched my blog for "Russia" and found some interesting posts, but none about Russian arms sales to Iraq. The discussion about Russian arms sales took place in the comments (haloscan) section, and RhusLancia of IBC wrote a post in January 2007 titled "Where did Saddam get his chemical weapons?"  That was a good post, and in it RhusLancia pointed out the following:

  • All told, 52% of Iraq's international chemical weapon equipment was of German origin.
  • Around 21% of Iraq’s international chemical weapon equipment was French.
  • About 100 tons of mustard gas also came from Brazil.
  • The United Kingdom paid for a chlorine factory that was intended to be used for manufacturing mustard gas
  • An Austrian company gave Iraq calutrons for enriching uranium. The nation also provided heat exchangers, tanks, condensers, and columns for the Iraqi chemical weapons infrastructure, 16% of the international sales.
  • Singapore gave 4,515 tons of precursors for VX, sarin, tabun, and mustard gasses to Iraq.
  • The Dutch gave 4,261 tons of precursors for sarin, tabun, mustard, and tear gasses to Iraq.
  • Egypt gave 2,400 tons of tabun and sarin precursors to Iraq and 28,500 tons of weapons designed for carrying chemical munitions.
  • India gave 2,343 tons of precursors to VX, tabun, Sarin, and mustard gasses.
  • Luxemburg gave Iraq 650 tons of mustard gas precursors.
  • Spain gave Iraq 57,500 munitions designed for carrying chemical weapons. In addition, they provided reactors, condensers, columns and tanks for Iraq’s chemical warfare program, 4.4% of the international sales.
  • China provided 45,000 munitions designed for chemical warfare.
I was surprised to see India and Singapore on the list.  One of the Wikipedia pages that RhusLancia linked to mentions that Saudi Arabia loaned or gave $20 billion to Iraq between 1980 and 1982.  Other Gulf countries also loaned Saddam money in the 80s, including Kuwait.  

Many countries and international companies did business with Saddam, but today the most controversial  support, the support that most people talk about, was the support the US gave Saddam.  In 2005 NPR diplomatic correspondent Mike Shuster answers answered an important question:

CHADWICK: Can you say--is there any sense that the US created Saddam Hussein, that the United States essentially was responsible for the rule of Saddam Hussein?

SHUSTER: Well, certainly not created Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein came to power in the late 1960s in Iraq. He created Iraq's secret police and intelligence, and he became the number one strongman of Iraq in 1979. But after that, the United States did play a key role in all of his actions, military and political, in the Middle East. In effect, the United States chose Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein, to be its surrogate for policy in the Persian Gulf region and to counter the actions of Iran, which the United States, the Reagan administration, saw as the biggest threat. And the fact that it supported Saddam Hussein in all these clandestine ways, a man who had been the pariah to the United States in the decade earlier, it seems to me could not have helped encourage Saddam's grandiosity about his role in the Arab world. He was meeting with senior US diplomats. They were looking the other way when he was using chemical weapons and developing other unconventional weapons. He couldn't have helped but to think that the United States was behind him.

The US did not create Saddam, but in the 80s the world's powerful countries helped make him a powerful dictator.  After 8 years of senseless war and a decade of ethnic cleansing, torture, and murder, in 1990 Saddam finally violated the rules of the west by invading Kuwait and thus drew the condemnation of the American President, who drew a line in the sand.  In 1991 the West, along with a few key Arab allies, destroyed much of Iraq's infrastructure and its military and forced Saddam to withdraw the Iraqi army from Kuwait.  
After the 1991 Gulf War the West, led by the US, sought to destroy the remainder of Saddam's WMD via UN sanctions and inspections, ensuring that Saddam would not be able to threaten his neighbors.  They did not, however, destroy Saddam's ability to mass murder and imprison innocent Iraqis.  Iraqis not only suffered through another 12 years of murder, torture, and imprisonment, but they endured through sanctions that crippled the country's economy.  As a result of the sanctions and government neglect, ordinary Iraqis struggled to survive as Saddam built 81 palaces in the 90s. I have said many times that Saddam should have been overthrown in 1991, but I was still happy when it happened in 2003. Kan'an Makiya summarized my feelings in a 2006 interview:

It is very sad for me that Europe, which is a bastion of so many of the highest ideals to which I aspire, sat back and was happy to let the Iraqi people live under that inhuman regime of sanctions, which were killing people in vast numbers. And [Europe] allowed this situation of abuse and tyranny of the regime to continue, and did not think it morally necessary -- forget practically, maybe it's not practical -- to get rid of that kind of institutionalized abuse on that kind of scale.

Now, the United States chose to act, for whatever reason. From my point of view as an Iraqi, that decision was a thousand times better, morally speaking, than the inaction of the Europeans. The complicity of so many people in the United Nations, for instance, with the former regime. We now know so much about that because of documents that were discovered inside Iraq after the fall of the regime.

It wasn't just the Europeans who wanted Iraqis to continue to suffer under Saddam.  So did the Arabs. The Arabs who continue to defend Saddam are simply stupid. 


Jon Claerbout said...

I recall there was an important trade triangle between USSR, Iraq, Cuba. Cuba sent sugar to USSR; USSR sent arms to Iraq; Iraq sent oil to Cuba. When this broke it was a big setback for all three. Starvation in Cuba. G.Bush needed to be very careful with Gorbachev so as not to threaten directly. Ending the cold war was MUCH MORE IMPORTANT to USA than the little side show (Iraq/Iran) in the Middle East.

kellie said...

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has a page where you can generate tables for value of arms sales to any particular country for any period in their database.

Maury said...

Iraqi's suffered when Saddam was supported and suffered even more when he wasn't. Either way,Amreeka catches the blame.

Anonymous said...

@ IM

out of topic, but interesting:

gilgamesh x / exile - iraqi

Dolly said...

The war of 2003 has zero to do with Saddam's treatment of his own population.
It is just "false excuse #2," which the West cites when even "false excuse #1" was exposed as a lie.

The real reasons for the war of 2003 are to be found in 9/11. Following this attack in 2001,
the idea of an Iraq invasion was suggested by the U.S. government. And then the electorate agreed, motivated by hatred and revenge

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