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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Flashback: Rumsfeld's Handshake With Saddam



So Saddam Hussein has been found guilty of genocide against Kurds in 1982. Shock and surprise. How many of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders will now use that as justification for the Iraq War? Never mind that the US had no problem with Saddam's genocide at the time. That famous picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking Saddam's hand took place about a year later, long after we knew full well what went down.

But what was the context of that picture?

One problem with using the Google to surf the internets is that there's relatively little hard info pre-1990 to be found. That's not too surprising, since few people knew what the internet was in 1990. After a session of cleaning out my basement however, I came across this gem, a Newsweek from January 2, 1984. On the Periscope page is a news snippet describing the meetings leading up to that handshake:

"The Case for a Tilt to Iraq
The United States is definitely "moving to improve relations with Iraq," says one senior administration policymaker. The wave of Iranian-inspired terrorism in the Middle East is strengthening the case of those senior American officials who have been urging a U.S. Tilt toward Iraq. These officials argue that resuming diplomatic relations with Baghdad would serve as a kind of "diplomatic retaliation" against Iran. In addition, it would give Syrian President Hafez Assad "something else to worry about," in the words of one State Department source; Syria and Iraq are bitter rivals. Iraq severed ties with Washington in 1967. On his current stay in Baghdad, special envoy Donald Rumsfeld is sounding out officials on their willingness to resume relations. At the very least, Washington would want assurances that Iraq no longer harbors Abu Nidal and other terrorists. With the resumption of relations, Washington might help Iraq's oil exporting operations."

(Here's a jpg of the actual page for those lacking trust in my transcription skills.)

So we see clearly why Rumsfeld was for Saddam before he was against Saddam. How embarrassing for him, to be this wrong AND inconsistent at the same time. We also see that EVEN THEN it all revolved around oil, despite it being presented in an "oh by the way" tone in Newsweek.

1 comment:

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