From A World to Win News Service

U.S. Hypocrisy on Saddam Hussein

Revolutionary Worker #1224, December 28, 2003, posted at

The following article is from A World to Win News Service.

December 15, 2003. A World to Win News Service. Nothing good can come of Saddam Hussein's capture at the hands of the U.S. occupation forces. People everywhere have been sickened by the gloating being vomited onto the world from Washington and London in the service of justifying and continuing the occupation of Iraq. Here's an attempt to clear some of it off of people's glasses.

The Crimes

Most of Saddam's crimes were committed at the instigation of the U.S. or with its complicity (not to mention France, Germany and Great Britain). His trial will most likely be a cover-up of that.

Mass graves of prisoners : Saddam's Baath Party seized power in Iraq in a 1963 coup publicly praised by the U.S. and probably organized by the CIA. The old regime had pulled out of the U.S.'s anti-Soviet Baghdad pact and threatened to nationalize the foreign-run oil consortium. The CIA supplied the Baathists with a list of names of suspected communists and radicals. Ten thousand were arrested. Many were tortured. About 4,000 to 5,000 were executed. The head of the CIA in the Middle East at the time, James Critchfield, said, "We regarded it as a great victory." ( Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein , by Andrew and Patrick Cockburn, 2000.)

Saddam himself seized the reins of power in 1979. For the next dozen years, he was a darling of Western intelligence services from the U.S. to France. No Western government complained that he was too brutal in defending their interests.

Prosecutors beholden to the U.S. are unlikely to bring this up at his trial.

Invading other countries : In 1980, Iraq attacked Iran. Speaking of the difficulties the U.S. might face if Saddam has anything like a real trial, Middle East expert Robert Fisk pointed out, "This is the man who knows more about Baathist relations with the CIA than anyone else." Many people have suggested that Saddam be asked about exactly what the U.S. did to encourage Iraq to start a war with a regime the Americans then considered a serious problem.

That the U.S. did encourage it diplomatically, financially and militarily is uncontested. Bush's Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld could testify to that. He visited Iraq as President Reagan's special envoy in 1983. As a sign of support, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad reopened a few months after. A million people were killed in the eight-year reactionary war in which the U.S. aided both sides at various times in order to prolong the killing as much as possible.

As for Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, Iraq has a historical claim to it. A few key witnesses could clear up quite a lot. U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie might explain why, when Saddam asked her if the U.S. would object to his annexing that country, she replied, "We have no opinion. Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction.that Kuwait is not associated with America." Her boss, James Baker, then George Bush the father's Secretary of State and now George Bush the son's special envoy, could answer a question that has troubled many people: did the U.S. deliberately set up Saddam so it could have a pretext for an invasion of its own?

Massacres of the Shia: As the first Gulf War closed, Bush senior's government issued a call for the oppressed Shia Arabs concentrated in southern Iraq to rise up against Saddam's regime. Even after the fighting stopped, American warplanes continued slaughtering Iraqi troops as they fled on the motorways back to Baghdad. But while the U.S. sought to use the Shia as pawns against Saddam, it considered the greatest danger not Saddam's regime but a power vacuum in which mass uprisings might threaten regional stability. The present Bush could have his father testify about that.

Using internationally banned chemical weapons : Saddam's aircraft spewed poison gas on the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988, killing more than 5,000 people within a matter of hours. This was not the first such atrocity. In March 1984, on the day the UN released a report condemning Iraq's use of poison gas against Iranian troops, Rumsfeld was having a friendly meeting with Iraq's Foreign Minister. The U.S. helped build up Saddam's air force for the next two years. When the aerial bombing of Halabja provoked a worldwide outcry, the U.S. labeled the evidence against Saddam "inconclusive" and implied Iran was behind it. Ironically, according to the media this is the same defense Saddam is now using in captivity.

In 1988, Bush senior's government prevented the UN Security Council from condemning Iraq for the Halabja massacre.

Further, the U.S. started sending Iraq anthrax stock in the late 1970s and continued to do so for another decade even as Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iran and the Iraqi Kurds.

If there were what any sane person could call a real trial for Saddam Hussein, there would be a big crowd in the accused dock, even if the charges were restricted to crimes committed in Iraq during his years in power.

Replacing Saddam's Regime with What?

"This event brings further assurance that the torture chambers and the secret police are gone forever," Bush declared. This is another lie.

The U.S. occupiers have reopened Abu Ghraib prison, Saddam's infamous hellhole west of Baghdad. Western media say that as of September 10,000 men were shut in there, about half of them opponents of the occupation classified as "security detainees" with none of the rights of either common law prisoners (such as a trial) or prisoners of war. American troops shot a Palestinian journalist dead just outside Abu Ghraib's walls as he tried to film it.

The occupation authorities have also been rebuilding the Mukhabarat, Saddam's secret police. They made public job offers to former officers of the Mukhabarat's foreign services (spying against Syria and Iran) months ago. Lately press reports quote unidentified U.S. officials as saying that the U.S. is now concentrating on regrouping the domestic services as well. This means bringing back both the archives on Iraqi citizens and the men who used them to punish dissent.

After first planning to preserve the Iraqi army and then dissolving it, the U.S. is now bringing back whole large-scale units and their officers. Of the first battalion of the new U.S.-run Iraqi army, three- quarters of the men formerly served in the old army. But almost half of them resigned in protest against occupation policies recently, highlighting the contradictoriness of the situation that provoked U.S. vacillation. The same situation seems to prevail among the police (rehired wholesale).

Given this situation, the Bush regime has made it clear that it will keep substantial numbers of occupation forces in Iraq for the foreseeable future, despite claims about returning "sovereignty" to the Iraqi people by July 1, 2004.

This kind of "sovereignty" is what any objective person would call national slavery. The plan is for a handful of officials hand picked by the U.S. (which has been frantically weeding out those it considers unreliable lately) to stage various gatherings where they would hand pick some other people to hand pick some kind of government, which would operate with American advisors looking over their shoulders and the American armed forces as their only real support.

In short, the U.S. policy is to replace Saddam's reactionary, repressive regime with a U.S.-puppet reactionary, repressive regime, using some of the same tried and true oppressors of the old guard along with American "boots" to trod on the people should Saddam's former henchmen and fresher faces prove too soft. In essence, Bush's "new" plan to "turn Iraq over to Iraqis" by mid- 2004 is no different than the U.S.'s efforts to "Vietnamize" the Vietnam war by building up a puppet government and army, or the Nazi puppet government in France during World War 2. It's what imperialist powers have always done.

Even now, while there are some so-called Iraqi judges in Iraq, they do not have the authority to have anyone arrested or released. All they can do is rubber stamp what the real power does.

If the U.S.-installed Interim Governing Council that is supposed to provide an "Iraqi" trial for Saddam were subjected to DNA tests to prove their identity as he was, it would reveal that they are American clones.

Incidentally, while not much has come out about American-run torture chambers (aside from Amnesty International protests about the few men known to have died suddenly in detention), U.S. officials have all but openly admitted this practice lead to Saddam's capture. A recently beefed-up U.S. Special Operations team of CIA agents and Defense Department operatives focused on capturing Saddam's close and distant relatives. As described in the Washington Post , "The U.S. government had offered a reward of up to $25 million for information leading to the capture of Saddam Hussein. But because the breakthrough came as the result of interrogations, not a voluntary tip, one senior official said, `We saved the taxpayer $25 million.'"

Who Gives Big Criminals the Right to Try Little Ones?

As former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark reportedly pointed out, the U.S. has no legal basis to try Saddam because the American-led occupation itself is illegal. Yet from the minute the invasion of Iraq was openly proposed and probably a long time before, occupying Iraq was the U.S.'s aim in this war. Bush and Blair were both proven liars with their stories about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. The invasion was part of a grand plan to bring the whole Middle East more directly under U.S. control as a pillar of a militarily enforced truly global empire on a level the world has never seen before.

The capture of Saddam was meant to send a "message" of American imperial determination, ruthlessness and invincibility to Iraqis and the world's people, as well as to other American stooges in the region who have turned out to be unsatisfactory. Early in the war the U.S. complained about illegal humiliation of prisoners when Arab media showed U.S. troops in Iraqi custody. But it could not resist making a television spectacle of Saddam's public degradation (forced to open his mouth like an animal or a slave on auction, getting his beard and head shorn, etc.) because the American ruling class obeys a "higher" law--their political and economic interests.

The U.S. imperialists are the biggest criminals on today's planet and the most hated. Since the end of World War 2 alone the list of their crimes runs from the bombing of Hiroshima (followed by the bombing of Nagasaki three days later just to show it wasn't a mistake) to their coups in Guatemala, Iran and the Congo, and from the Vietnam War that left several million people in Indochina dead through the invasions of Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Yugoslavia and other countries. The 12 years of sanctions after the first Gulf War killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. In the second war, there was an authorization procedure for airstrikes that were expected to put more than 30 civilians at risk. Rumsfeld personally authorized such airstrikes at least 50 times. More than a thousand civilians were killed by illegal U.S. and British cluster bombs alone. (See the December 12 report by Human Rights Watch.)

Bush blustered about Saddam, "Good riddance. The world is better off without you." Actually, the world isn't better off at all with Saddam in American hands. The real truth is that all the world's people will be much better off without the U.S. ruling class and all the imperialists who with Saddam's capture once again have compulsively displayed their reactionary and ridiculous essence.

The Future Without Saddam

The Iraqi people have not been resisting because of Saddam. They have raised their voices, demonstrated in the streets and attacked the occupiers in most of the country. In the days after the capture, hundreds of people in Falluja violently seized the office of the U.S.-appointed mayor. Mass protests also broke out in Ramadi and Tikrit, called a "Saddam stronghold" by the Americans, and among students in the northern town of Mosul, until recently held up as a model of U.S. armed forces' efforts to win Iraqi "hearts and minds." U.S. troops were ambushed in a major firefight in Samarra, a town considered hostile to Saddam.

No matter what the immediate result of Saddam's capture may be, that resistance will continue until its cause is removed. The Iraqi people want their country back.