Thursday, March 20, 2008

Iraq irony

These past few days have been major anniversaries for two days in Iraqi history. The one everyone noticed was the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. The one everybody forgot was Saddam Hussein's gassing of the rebel Kurdish city of Halabja. Twenty years ago Sunday, on 16 March 1988, as part of Chemical Ali's Anfal Campaign, 5000 Kurds died on the spot, and 7000 were injured or have chronic illnesses.

But why is this relevant? Because the United States at the time knowingly defended and protected Saddam Hussein in the court of international opinion, according to an article in the Nation published a few months ago. And the operatives in this disinformation campaign were disturbingly familiar: Colin Powell (Reagan's National Security Adviser) and Donald Rumsfeld ("Special Middle East Envoy"). Rumsfeld especially conveyed many messages to Baghdad, signaling the US's willingness to overlook and cover up Saddam's gas attacks. Nary a month after 9/11, and Bush was already talking about the gassing of the Kurds as implicating Saddam Hussein. Of course, you know the rest.

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