THE AUTONOMY OF TECHNIQUE or THE END OF ENDS
Asks Gary 'Quantity-Becomes-Quality' Sauer-Thompson
"But why think about public policy? Isn't public policy just a matter of keeping the economic machine ticking over and keeping the rabble in their place and happy with accepting the benefits from economic growth that trickle down by way of the odd new job created."
PUBLIC POLICY AS TECHNIQUE
As is his wont (and want), Gary asks a mouthfull. I mean, how do we answer him such that it would make sense in the Land of Oz of today? Just to prove my beak ain't always buried in yellowing lefty pamphlets, I'm gonna make mention of Neil Postman, who averred in his 1993 tome, *Technopoly* (modern society as object of hypertechnocratic managerialism) that, "In a technopoly, we tend to believe that only through the autonomy of technique can we achieve our goals. This idea is all the more dangerous because no one can reasonably object to the rational use of techniques to achieve human purposes ... Technique, like any other technology, tends to function independently of the system it serves. It becomes autonomous, in the manner of a robot that no longer obeys its master." (page 142)
Now, given that our main political parties ever more come to us as contending teams of economic managers (the odd race card notwithstanding), and that an economic manager can but apply the technique of the statistic, and that the statistic at once assumes and pursues the natural and universal sovereignty of The Invisible Hand, and that The Invisible Hand can but allocate scarce resources (not all of which are at all really scarce, and thus have artificially to be made scarce if they are to attract a price, which we then take as a natural magnitude) - well, then what?
Then the citizen (who is taught her role in the polity is confined to a vote every three years or so) can but choose between practitioners of the same technique. The best public policy is obviously that which best allocates resources. But we don't get to determine what would be 'best' because only the market can do that. Remember we're voting for managers of a market, as we could hardly vote for allocation priorities without knowing what priorities the market will reveal, could we?
So the practice of 'democracy' would be confined to a periodic choice between two sets of practitioners - ours merely to determine which best practices the technique of economic management - of transforming our relations from an imperfect here-and-now to the always-unknowable-but-always-attainable telos-in-the-technique. How best to scarcify the plentiful [eg. outrageous IP regimes, keeping millions of miles of optic fibre 'dark']? How best to enclose the commons to avoid externalities [eg. 'privatisation' of eg. water] ... in short, how to perform so that the pre-set statistics produce the numbers other economic managers agree indicate an acceptable degree of social goodness.
ENDS AND MEANS
That means we don't get to vote on ends. We just get to vote on who we think offers the best version of some fairly constrained means. That means no-one asks us what kind of society we'd like ourselves or our children to be part of. And no-one asks us what we think morally right or wrong. No-one's in the position to offer you that kind of choice, you see. Not if government = governance = management = public policy, anyway.
Defined as consumer, the citizen is denied freedom of choice in the name of freedom of choice.
That's why Henry Thoreau dubbed our innovations (among which Postman numbers technopoly) ever improved means to ever unimproved ends.
THE END OF ENDS?
Just how closely the above scenario approximates the polity we inhabit, or characterises the trajectory we're on, well, that's a matter for judgement. Not a million miles away is my call.
'ADVERSITY HAS BROUGHT US TOGETHER': THE ROAD FROM HOMO ECONOMICUS TO 'PATRIOT' ...
or OUT OF THE FRYING PAN AND INTO THE FIRE
Watching reportage of the world and our place in it after S11 and Bali, I began to think as one Harold Lasswell (another American of whom I am fairly fond) once thunk. You can see (inevitably poorly expressed) notions along these lines in public relation texts, too.
During the great political economic crisis of the early 1930s Harold Lasswell applied (blogorrhoea hero) Georg Simmel's political wisdom to his times, theorising that 'atomized man' either actively sought or would be particularly receptive to reassuring media-disseminated symbols of identity denied 'him' by modern individualistic society. In this, Lasswell discerned the potential of fascism and all the nationalistic, racist and messianic features of that ideology.
We're more 'atomised' now than we were then, yet the urge to belong persists in us all ... and the easiest way to define your group is by simple opposition ...
DARK MUSING #492b
Dismarrhoeaic blogorrhoea is a dead-set bummer sometimes. One minute the patient may delight in the gambolling of Brush-tailed Possums on the blogoshed roof, a Peron's Tree Frog lying in wait at the blogoshed window, a voluptuous Golden Orb Spider spinning her heart out by the blogoshed door and Dusty Springfield proving there was once a voice in the world that could follow the majestic opening bars of 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me' - and the next it's all gone.
Even the sorry bleatings of a civilian Pentagon Advisor can do it to you if you're weak enough ... send you off on a bleak reverie like this, I mean ...
... Say the glittering promises of the globalism spruikers really were all piss and wind. Say we really were watching the whole dream go down the toilet again (the global economy was no less integrated before 1914 than it has now become, but 1914 came nonetheless). Well, then we'd expect unfortunate developments such as (a) a generalised closing of borders to about 25 million desperate people; (b) flows of foreign direct investments away from the periphery to the core; (c) the proliferation of strategic weaponry; (d) the gradual dissolution of the United Nations; (e) a generalised intensification of parochialism, demagoguery, tribalism, ethnocentrism, theocentrism and xenophobia; (f) markedly uneven national economic development curves; (g) rising resentment of core political economies by an underdeveloped periphery; (h) constant bickering within the World Trade Organisation and the reversion of even the champions of free trade to quotas, tariffs and subsidies; and (i) rising tensions between core political economies as 'global capital' splinters in the fight for new avenues of accumulation in a time of flat profits and excess capacity.
We'd expect the Hegemon Among Hegemons to respond to the nascent decay of a hitherto congenial international order by attempting to wrest direct control over a system otherwise threatening to come apart at the seams. We'd expect something like a PNAC ('Project for the New American Century') to form within its ruling class - an expressly political movement made up of corporate interests - and expect it to take desperate risks to secure political power while there was still time. So urgent would be their mission that even a political culture historically and proudly wedded to democratic ideals would not be allowed to stay its hand.
Such a movement would initially be torn between maintaining what is left of the congenial relations of yore whilst it urgently set itself to the task of securing for itself 'comparative advantage' in the strategic commodities it would need to prevail in the world to come. Time would be on the wing because salient rivals for global hegemony would themselves be preparing their positions. Europe might consolidate into a political economic bloc of suddenly comparable economic and demographic significance. China might suddenly throw aside the introspection and insularity of millenia and inject itself carefully into a world economy, introducing awesome capacity in a world economy already brimming over with capacity, but able to compete owing to its 'enjoying' the world's largest reserve army of desperately cheap job-seekers. China would consequently offer the world rather more capacity than it would effective demand. And then there'd be oil - reserves already peaked but global need set to rise, offering those in control of it unprecedented global power in just about any scenario, as long as they'd had the foresight to spend enough on weaponry to hold on to it once they got it.
Gone would be the seductive language of the globalism spruikers and back would come the stark belligerence between rival core political economies that marked pre-World War One, pre-World War Two and Cold War days. The PNAC would write documents with names like REBUILDING AMERICA'S DEFENSES: STRATEGIES, FORCES AND RESOURCES FOR A NEW CENTURY (see this blog, 15 September 2002), in which core allies of yore would be explicitly recast as rivals to be bested and kept in thrall.
Oh, and you'd know the Great Game was under way the minute said hegemon dramatically upped its military budget, nakedly grasped for the oil and started calling erstwhile allied core political economies names. And Richard Perle would say
something like, "France is no longer the ally it once was ... [we] must develop a strategy to contain our erstwhile ally or we will not be talking about a NATO alliance ... I have long thought that there were forces in France intent on reducing the American role in the world. That is more troubling than the stance of a German chancellor, who has been largely rejected by his own people ... Iraq is going to be liberated, by the United States and whoever wants to join us, whether we get the approbation of the U.N. or any other institution ... It is now reasonable to ask whether the United States should now or on any other occasion subordinate vital national interests to a show of hands by nations who do not share our interests."
THE DISMALIST'S BLOGCYCLOPAEDIA OF THE IRAQ 'DEBATE'
American Way Of Life: Something the defence of which is held to justify anything the US government chooses to do overseas, whether the American people know they're doing it or not. Consequently gets a mention in presidential pronouncements almost as often as *Gard*. The American Way Of Life is a tag for 300 million varied lives (see *Anti-American*), but seems to entail: a level of consumption Australia shares, but that by definition can not be extended to the six billion people who currently inhabit the planet; a formal democracy, which the US has expressly and forcibly denied the peoples of Chile, Pakistan and Nicaragua and is currently trying hard to deny Venezuela; and something called 'family values', but I still don't know what they are, given the variable attitudes to family evinced by those who invoke 'em.
Anti-American: Another consequence of the 'branding' approach to public relations. Everything has to be communicated in accessible bite sizes and based on clear oppositions, so that which can not be communicated in accessible bites or is not easily distinguished from a phobic other, is not communicated at all. Everything has to be not itself, but a constructed set of associations with other notions. 'Anti-American' is so bite-sized because 'America' itself is neatly defined as a monolithic lump entirely represented by the that part of the ruling class which makes US foreign policy. I may love John Lee Hooker, John Dewey, The Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, most Americans I meet, the Simpsons and Francis Ford Coppola, but I disagree with a president not even the Americans elected, so I am anti-American. Examples of this sort of 'thinking-by-tagging' include 'You are with us or against us', the proposition that enemies are simply 'evil' (which not only makes 'em easier to kill, but disallows reflection as to how a given act of viciousness came to occur and how such might be avoided in future), and the consequent lumping together of incongruous entities like Al Qa'ida, Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
Ba'ath Party: A political party of pan-Arabic scope with pan-Arabic aspirations. Saddam is not a very nice Ba-athist (he slaughtered the Iraqi Ba-ath Party's left wing in 1968 for a start), but formally a Ba-athist he remains. Ba-athists in places like Syria and Egypt might see any attack on Iraq as an attack on Arabic peoples in general, and might consequently be made very cross (see also *Gard* and *War on Terror*).
Downer Alex: Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs. Admitted to New Zealand High Commissioner Kate Lackey and Channel Nine in October 2002 that Australia's government had effectively committed to the US invasion of Iraq, regardless of whether the UN could be threatened and bribed into supporting the adventure, on grounds that now we're in, it's impossible to get out.
Friedman, Thomas: Establishment pundit and New York Times columnist, who said it all in half a paragraph of a famous book on globalisation (The Lexus and the Olive Tree): "The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps."
Gard: The salient deity is the first conscript in any war. One, sometimes the same one, is typically conscripted by each side. Gard is the salient deity in the US, and The Prez is on about him all the time. Saddam's mob is not too fussed about deities, but many Iraqis are. Also to the point, many who worship Allah feel that any attack by the followers of Gard on people who follow Allah is an attack on all people who follow Allah. So any attack on Iraq necessarily outrages many who see Iraqis as Muslems first and Iraqis second (for more on the potential of this nonsense to spread, see *Ba'ath Party* and *War on Terror*). The chief ecumenical officer of the United Methodist Church, Melvin Talbert
claims Gard disagrees with the prez ("Iraq hasn't wronged us," [and the war will] only create more terrorists."), but presidents and clerics are historically typically at odds as to who knows Gard's will best, so followers of Gard who do not know the Ten Commandments are left without earthly guidance.
Material breach: The formal trigger for invasion. As far as the US, the UK and Australia are concerned, Iraq is already in material breach of the crucial Resolution 1441. This matters, because these countries hold the US to be the rightful arbiter and themselves to be entitled to invade any time after the US formally announces a material breach. The weapons inspectors on the ground differ with these countries as to the first point, and the actual body that passed the relevant resolution, the *UN* differs as to the second. For the *UN*, its Resolution 1441 entitles only it to determine a material breach has occurred and only it to determine whether invasion is to take place (see *UN*).
Moral Clarity: Any approach to ethics that facilitates quick, decisive and overpowering action and can be sold to the masses in readily accessible PR-department-honed sound-grabs. Examples of 'moral clarity' include 'Saddam is a bad man who kills his own people, so we must kill lots of his people if that's what it takes to unseat him'; 'Saddam has *weapons of mass destruction* which he might use one day, so we must use *weapons of mass destruction* now to avoid the use of *weapons of mass destruction*'; and "Saddam might pass on his *weapons of mass destruction* to organisations who actually have been horrible to us, even though he's never got on any better with them than we have, so we must get rid of him before we do anything comparable about the bastards who actually attacked us'. Good examples of the quick, decisive and overpowering action that result from 'moral clarity' include the Nazi invasion of Poland, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, and Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. This is not surprising as 'moral clarity' does not allow for reflection on ethical questions like 'do the means employed compromise the ends pursued?' or 'is it moral definitely to kill innocents now if the purported aim is to save a possible killing of innocents in an unknown future?' or 'is the definite deployment of weapons of mass destruction a moral way to avoid the possible deployment of weapons of mass destruction?' or 'is bloody regime change the right way to oust a regime that is the product of a bloody regime change we orchestrated earlier?'.
No-fly zones: Big chunks of Iraq over which the Iraqi government may not have sovereignty and over which Iraqi planes may not fly upon pain of death. This is presented by the media as a UN initiative, but is in fact a unilateral US/UK imposition. These zones have been continually bombed by US and UK planes ever since 1991. Sometimes they bomb other parts of Iraq, but mainly they bomb in the no-fly zone.
Osama bin Laden: The official demon after Milojovic but before Saddam, and, of the three, the only one against which there is solid proof of anti-American belligerence. The US armed, financed and supported bin Laden to get Milojovic, thus strengthening him. They then tried to bomb Osama and his mates for a while (they probably got a few, too, among the four thousand other Afghans they killed), thus possibly weakening him. Now they're bent on bombing Iraq, which will strengthen him again, on three counts (unseating Saddam, who has long been an ideological enemy; forcing Muslem governments Osama despises to weaken themselves at home by committing to a war passionately opposed by their constituents; and driving many victims and their sympathisers directly into Osama's arms). Of course, Osama may be dead (although his organisation, and others like it, still exist), but the US no longer seems interested either way.
Pre-emptive Defence Doctrine: Something President Bush thought up to allow him to attack anyone at any time on grounds that he couldn't be sure these others might not attack the most powerful country in the world with them. A German bloke once invoked a doctrine of this sort to justify invading Poland, thus starting *World War Two*.
Regime Change: This particular signifier is another floater. It is a fine tradition of the US, as it has been of imperialists through the ages, to reserve the right to oust, kill and replace leaders of other countries. They ousted and killed democratically elected leaders in places like Chile and Pakistan, but it's easier on the PR department to oust and kill unelected leaders. The US knows Saddam is not elected because they forced him on an unwilling Iraq to get rid of their last leader (a very popular chap called Qasim). The US gave Saddam's party a list of the people who liked the now bullet-ridden Qasim, so he could kill them and Qasim would no longer be popular. In those moments when it looked like world-wide revulsion at the prospect of yet another chapter in this litany of orchestrated bloodletting might stop the US pursuing its fine tradition, Condi and The Prez assured said world that 'regime change can also mean Saddam merely changing his mind'. Now that an invasion force an order of magnitude larger than the one of which Private Ryan was part is in place, and countries have been bribed and threatened into going along with The Fine Tradition, 'regime change' again means what it used to mean, and all's right with the world.
Saddam's 'own people': Thousands of Kurds - mostly civilians, gassed to ghastly death - probably at Saddam's orders - with weapons (see *WMD*) Saddam was given in order to kill thousands of Iranians. Iraqis were allowed to kill Kurds in 1988, but not after 1990. Iraq's neighbour, NATO ally Turkey, have retained US permission to slaughter Kurds throughout.
Sanctions: An international embargo of Iraq that inhibits Iraq's potential to feed and medicate its populace. As Saddam is a bastard, there's always enough for him and his coterie, but nothing for the other 20 million Iraqis. Consequently, anywhere from half a million to a million Iraqis have died. Secretary Albright is on the record as saying this is a price worth paying, but she failed to say what it was supposed to be the price of, and whether the Iraqi people were the right people to pay it (there could be a -shudder- externalities problem). History shows that, given the funds Iraq's oil would normally make available to him, Saddam would in fact provide Iraqis with substantial development programmes and regionally envied levels of public infrastructure (he'd doubtless buy weapons, too - but then, who doesn't?). The US used to applaud this, but it's mostly gone now, as the US blew it up in 1991, and have spent the last decade blowing up much of what's left. The US says sanctions will stay in place until there is regime change, but this was never part of the 1991 Settlement, and is not enshrined in any UN resolution.
United Nations: Noble concept compromised early in its development by US intrigue. Even though the UN has a leader the US government itself chose (they engineered *regime change* there, too), he persists in trying to avoid an invasion of Iraq. If the US invades without UN sanction, it will destroy what little is left of the UN's credibility. If the US engineers a UN sanction for the invasion, it will destroy what little is left of the UN's credibility. A discredited UN might seem a good idea to the world's most powerful country, which will be able to conduct its foreign policy by way of bilateral dealings with inferior nation states, but six billion people don't live in the world's most powerful country, and this may not be good news for them.
War on Terror: An effective state of war declared by President Bush in 2001, against an abstract noun. Abstract nouns can not be defeated, so the state of war can go on as long as, and against whomever, the White House wants it to. 'Terror' is also a methodology, to which category the same temporal problem applies. As methodology, it is to be seen as belligerence typically carried out by the materially disadvantaged in conditions of asymetric military power. Consequently, to outrage a poor people may well to produce the conditions for terror.
Weapons Inspectors: Probably irrelevant to proceedings. Shouldn't be there according to the original 1991 settlement (inspections were to be terminable); contrary to media-fuelled popular belief, never expelled from Iraq (the UN pulled them out); recently tendentiously misreported by Washington; and often infiltrated by US spies.
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD): Stuff the US, France, Germany, the UK and a few others sold Iraq that Iraq is not now allowed to have. Even by US admission in 1998, 95% of whatever Iraq had was destroyed by that time, but Iraq, in a region that's full of the stuff, is now not allowed to have any. Iraq's not allowed to say it doesn't have this stuff, because the US, France, Germany and the UK have the receipts to prove they must have had it once, and Iraq'd then be in *material breach*. They're not allowed to say they do have it, because then they're in *material breach*. There's no proof the stuff has been destroyed and none that it hasn't, no proof Iraq has kept the stuff, and none it ever intended to pass it on to others. According to the US, this places Iraq in *material breach* on four counts. The US has announced on several occasions it is prepared to use WMDs to prevent WMDs being used. This is a small part of the *pre-emptive defence doctrine*.
World War Two: The last world war before the one Osama bin Laden and President Bush are trying to start.
POLLYANNA THE ARMADILLO
Sad affliction though blogorrhoea might be, it is typically not a condition that obliges the patient to pick at every little bone of contention that finds its way into the alimentary canal of the flatulent and bilious little beast that is Ozplogistan. Simply put, I have been made cross by faux-centrist and born-again war-blogger Ken Parish who sets about Tim Dunlop
with a cat o'few tails indeed. 'Tis my assertion that it is not Tim who is the Pollyanna here. 'Tis Ken himself, whose flail, we shall see, is fashioned of two basic assertions, neither of which evince the tensile strength required to resist a five-minute google:
Assertion 1: "[L]iberal democratic nations like the US have little choice but to make occasional expedient alliances with some fairly smelly regimes." So the US's role is presented as nought more than playing the cards it was dealt, and that they refused to play as soon as Saddam exposed himself as the new (insert your selection from Stalin/Hitler/Beelezebub?Osama bin Laden here). Following is a small selection of quotes to show that Unca Sam had indeed brought its own deck.
Andrew and Patrick Cockburn (*Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein* Verso, 2000):
"Support for the conspirators was limited. In the first hours of fighting, they had only nine tanks under their control. The Baath Party had just 850 active members. But Qassim ignored warnings about the impending coup. What tipped the balance against him was the involvement of the United States. He had taken Iraq out of the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact. In 1961, he threatened to occupy Kuwait and nationalized part of the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC), the foreign oil consortium that exploited Iraq's oil. In retrospect, it was the ClAs favorite coup. "We really had the ts crossed on what was happening," James Critchfield, then head of the CIA in the Middle East, told us. "We regarded it as a great victory." Iraqi participants later confirmed American involvement. "We came to power on a CIA train," admitted Ali Saleh Sa'adi, the Baath Party secretary general who was about to institute an unprecedented reign of terror. CIA assistance reportedly included coordination of the coup plotters from the agency's station inside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad as well as a clandestine radio station in Kuwait and solicitation of advice from around the Middle East on who on the left should be eliminated once the coup was successful. To the end, Qassim retained his popularity in the streets of Baghdad. After his execution, his supporters refused to believe he was dead until the coup leaders showed pictures of his bullet-riddled body on TV and in the newspapers."
Mohamoud A Shaikh
: "Iraqis have always suspected that the 1963 military coup that set Saddam Husain on the road to absolute power had been masterminded by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). New evidence just published reveals that the agency not only engineered the putsch but also supplied the list of people to be eliminated once power was secured - a monstrous stratagem that led to the decimation of Iraq's professional class. The overthrow of president Abdul Karim Kassim on February 8, 1963 was not, of course, the first intervention in the region by the agency, but it was the bloodiest -
far bloodier than the coup it orchestrated in 1953 to restore the shah of Iran to power."
Said Abdurish (*A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite* 1997):
"The overthrow of president Abdul Karim Kassim on February 8, 1963 was not, of course, the first intervention in the region by the agency, but it was the bloodiest - far bloodier than the coup it orchestrated in 1953 to restore the shah of Iran to power. Just how gory, and how deep the CIA's involvement in it, is demonstrated in a new book by Said Aburish, a writer on Arab political affairs ... 5,000 were killed, giving the names of 600 of them - including many doctors, lawyers, teachers and professors who formed Iraq's educated elite. The massacre was carried out on the basis of death lists provided by the CIA.
The lists were compiled in CIA stations throughout the Middle East with the assistance of Iraqi exiles like Saddam, who was based in Egypt. An Egyptian intelligence officer, who obtained a good deal of his information from Saddam, helped the Cairo CIA station draw up its list. According to Aburish, however, the American agent who produced the longest list was William McHale, who operated under the cover of a news correspondent for the Beirut bureau of Time magazine.
The butchery began as soon as the lists reached Baghdad. No-one was spared. Even pregnant women and elderly men were killed. Some were tortured in front of their children. According to the author, Saddam who 'had rushed back to Iraq from exile in Cairo to join the victors, was personally involved in the torture of leftists in the separate detention centres for fellaheen [peasants] and the Muthaqafeen or educated classes.'
King Hussain of Jordan, who maintained close links with the CIA, says the death lists were relayed by radio to Baghdad from Kuwait, the foreign base for the Iraqi coup. According to him, a secret radio broadcast was made from Kuwait on the day of the coup, February 8, 'that relayed to those carrying out the coup the names and addresses of communists there, so they could be seized and executed.'
The CIA's royal collaborator also gives an insight into how closely the Ba'athist party and American intelligence operators worked together during the planning stages. 'Many meetings were held between the Ba'ath party and American intelligence - the most critical ones in Kuwait,' he says.
At the time the Ba'ath party was a small nationalist movement with only 850 members. But the CIA decided to use it because of its close relations with the army. One of its members tried to assassinate Kassim as early as 1959. Saddam, then 22, was wounded in the leg, later fleeing the country ... the Ba'ath party leaders - in return for CIA support - agreed to 'undertake a cleansing programme to get rid of the communists and their leftist allies.' Hani Fkaiki, a Ba'ath party leader, says that the party's contact man who orchestrated the coup was William Lakeland, the US assistant military attache in Baghdad."
"In earlier times, Iraq's oil was completely owned by US, British, and other Western companies. In 1958 there was a popular revolution in Iraq. Ten years later, the rightwing of the Ba'ath party took power, with Saddam Hussein serving as point man for the CIA. His assignment was to undo the bourgeois-democratic revolution, as I have already noted. But instead of acting as a compradore collaborator to Western investors in the style of Nicaragua's Somoza, Chile's Pinochet, Peru's Fujimora, and numerous others, Saddam and his cohorts nationalized the Iraqi oil industry in 1972, ejected the Western profiteers, and pursued policies of public development and economic nationalism. By 1990, Iraq had the highest standard of living in the Middle East (which may not be saying all that much), and it was evident that the US had failed to rollback the gains of the 1958 revolution. But the awful destruction delivered upon Iraq both by the Gulf War and the subsequent decade of economic sanctions did achieve a kind of counterrevolutionary rollback from afar."
Holland's 'Wereld Crisis' people:
"Another very good example of a CIA-organized "regime change" was a coup in 1963 that employed political assassination, mass imprisonment, torture and murder. This was the military coup that first brought Saddam Hussein's beloved Ba'ath Party to power in Iraq. At the time, Richard Helms was Director for Plans at the CIA. That is the top CIA position responsible for covert actions, like organizing coups. Helms served in that capacity until 1966, when he was made Director."
Alfred Mendes ('Blood For Oil' in *Spectr@zine* 2002):
"The Ba'athist coup, resulted in the return to Iraq of young fellow-Ba'athist Saddam Hussein, who had fled to Egypt after his earlier abortive attempt to assassinate Qasim. Saddam was immediately assigned to head the Al-Jihaz al-Khas, the clandestine Ba'athist Intelligence organisation. As such, he was soon involved in the killing of some 5,000 communists. Saddam's rise to power had, ironically, begun on the back of a CIA-engineered coup!"
*Practical History* (London, May 2000)
: "1963: Qasim's government is overthrown in a coup bringing the Arab nationalist Ba'ath party to power. They favour the joining together of Iraq, Egypt and Syria in one Arab nation. In the same year, the Ba'ath also come to power in Syria, although the Syrian and Iraqi parties subsequently split. The Ba'ath strengthen links with the U.S. During the coup, demonstrators
are mown down by tanks, initiating a period of ruthless persecution. Up to 10,000 people are imprisoned, many are tortured. The CIA supply intelligence to the Ba'athists on communists and radicals to be rounded up. In addition to the 149 officially executed, about 5,000 are killed in the terror, many buried alive in mass graves. The new government continues the war on the Kurds, bombarding them with tanks, artillery and from the air, and bulldozing villages."
Husayn Al-Kurdi (*The CIA In Kurdistan* December 1996):
"The CIA has been meddling in Iraq with disastrous consequences for over four decades. After propping up the corrupt Nuri Said, the USA went after Abdul-Karim Kassem, whose popularly-supported coup eliminated the old British agent Nuri in 1958. Among those whom the CIA recruited to do its
dirty work were the Iraqi Baath Party, including a brash power-hungry adventurer named Saddam Hussein. Saddam actually engaged in an attempt on Kassem's life, one of many engineered by CIA "assets." The Baath did finally succeed in overthrowing and killing Kassem in 1963. The CIA gave
the emergent Baath a long list of Communists and others to liquidate, which they undertook to accomplish with their usual thoroughness."
Kryss Katsiavriades and Talaat Qureshi in *The Acts of the Democracies: 1960 to 1964*:
"Kassem had helped found the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in an attempt to curtail Western control of Arab oil. He had been planning to nationalise the Iraq Petroleum Company in which the USA had an interest. Iraq had also disapproved when Kuwait had been given independence by the UK with a pro-west emir (king) and oil concessions to Western companies. A few days before the coup, the French newspaper La Monde had reported that Kassem had been warned by the USA government to change his country's economic policies or face sanctions. British government papers later declassified would indicate that the coup was backed by the USA and UK. The new government promises not to nationalise American oil interests and renounces its claim to Kuwait. The USA recognises and praises the new government."'
From "Fear And Loathing Of The US Government':
"America aided Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath party into power in Iraq. Describing them as "...the political force of the future..." the CIA met with Ba'ath activists in the early 1960's. In the coup of 1963, thousands of Iraqi opposition political figures were murdered in three days, many them on a list which, according to journalist John Pilger, was supplied by the CIA. James Critchfield was the head of the CIA's Middle East Desk at the time. He later described the coup to authors Andrew and Patrick Cockburn for their book 'Out of the Ashes.' "It was a great victory. [....] It was an operation where all the 't's were really crossed." Another CIA agent testified to Congress: "He [Saddam] was a son of a bitch, but he was OUR son of a bitch." ['PAYING THE PRICE' - documentary by John Pilger, CARLTON TV, UK, 1999]
By 1958 the U.S. was an equal partner with Britain in the coups and assassinations. Together they backed a coup against King Faisal II ( who had himself been installed by the British). He was killed and replaced with Abdel Karim Qassim. But he too called for the return of Kuwait, so CIA chief Allen Dulles ordered his assassination. After the job was botched a couple of times, the CIA gave the assignment to one of its promising young assassins — Saddam Hussein. With the help of a CIA airlift, he succeeded. By 1968, Saddam Hussein was in complete control and, under CIA direction, killing trade unionists, radicals, and Communists.
In 1977, US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski met with Saddam Hussein, the Emir of Kuwait, and a Saudi representative, and proposed that Iraq invade Iran, seizing the Khuzestan oil fields. In 1982, US FBI chief William Webster met with the Emir of Kuwait and plotted the seizure of Iraqi oil fields and the slant-drilling with which Kuwait and western oil companies stole $14 billion worth of Iraqi oil.
Right up to the time of Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, US Department of Defense training manuals sang the praises of Saddam Hussein, noting how he had vastly improved education, medical care, and the standard of living of his people. His regime was called one of the most enlightened, progressive governments in the region. This was in an official DoD document used in the education of high-ranking officers of all the military services.
But there was a problem. The Berlin wall had come down. The Soviet Union had collapsed. And the American people were clamoring for a peace dividend. They had to find another bad guy — fast. In May 1990, a National Security Council white paper stated that Iraq and Saddam Hussein were (and I quote) "the optimum contenders to replace the Warsaw pact as the rationale for major military expenditures."
Two months later, on July 20, 1990, General Schwarzkopf conducted training exercises simulating exactly the contingency of an Iraqi attack on Kuwait. Five days later, April Glaspie gave Saddam the green light to invade Kuwait. A week later, he did. Almost immediately, the U.S. deployed as many troops and twice as much materiel as was moved for the Normandy invasion. Do you think this was done without advance planning?
This was the war they wanted, the war they planned for, the war they instigated, the war they salivated over. This was the war that would demonstrate the capabilities of the smart bombs made by our weapons manufacturers. It was better than a hundred trade shows. This was the war that would prove that George Bush was not a wimp. This was the war that would make billions for the oil company owned by the president’s son, George Bush, Jr., who had exclusive rights to offshore oil in the Gulf.
Saddam was suckered into our trap. And he fell for it."
Assertion 2: "One can reasonably criticise the US for being far too slow to wake up to the fact that it had made a bad choice of ally and to cut Saddam adrift. In fact, they didn't do so until after Iraq invaded Kuwait, leading to well-justified expressions of alarm from Israel and all Iraq's Arab neighbours. However, that slowness doesn't provide any logical basis for the Left's standard argument (usually by way of tacit assumption - as with MyDD's post and Tim's approval of it) that America's previous expedient alliance with Iraq somehow disqualifies it from taking action now. Better late than never."
I allow that a government may change its mind in a changing world, but the fact remains that the US kept backing Saddam well after some of his nastier excesses were known, and even after the SU passed into the dustbin of history. The Rumsfeld photo may precede many of those atrocities (albeit, certainly not the ones he was put there to perpetrate), but many known US overtures, gifts of weaponry, forgiving of debt and grants of new credit did in fact come after them. A cursory peek at the Truth In Politics site
takes care of it all by itself.
" After becoming President in January 1989 ... George Herbert Walker Bush - father of our current President - authorized a series of programs that not only armed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein but also provided him with technology that assisted in his development of chemical weapons like Sarin gas, and biological weapons, which he still possesses."
So the US 'military-industrial complex' against which old-style Republican Dwight Eisenhower warned us half a century ago was profiting from its wares, whilst making of the buyer an enemy worthy of ever more public dollars, right up to at least 1990. Hence the 'we know Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, and we've the receipts to prove it' game that's going on now. Quoth TIP: "In fact, we now know that in February 1990, then Attorney General Dick Thornburgh [appointed by George H.W. Bush] blocked U.S. investigators from traveling to Rome and Istanbul to pursue the case."
Then there's Russ W. Baker, in the March/April issue the *Colombia Journalism Review* (CJR): "It is becoming increasingly clear," said a grave Ted Koppel, "that George Bush, operating largely behind the scenes throughout the 1980s, initiated and supported much of the financing, intelligence, and military help that built Saddam's Iraq into the aggressive power that the United States ultimately had to destroy."
The *L.A. Times* (23 February 1992) reported finding secret National Security Decision Directives by the Bush Administration in 1989 which ordered closer ties with Baghdad and paving the way for $1 billion in new aid, " ... buried deep in a 1991 Washington Press piece - that Secretary of State James Baker, after meeting with Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz in October 1989, intervened personally to support U.S. government loans guarantees to Iraq."
"On October 3, the [Wall Street] Journal reported [BNL official Christopher] Drogoulís assertion that the Director General of Iraq's Ministry of Industry and Military Production had told him, "We are all in this together. The intelligence service of the U.S. government works very closely with the intelligence service of the Iraqi government." Three weeks later, the Journal reported that [Henry] Gonzales "produced a phone-book-sized packet of documents" showing the involvement of U.S. exporting firms. The documents mentioned one "which designed parts for Iraq's howitzers and was financed through BNL."
And to conclude: " Atlanta Branch of Italy's largest bank, Banca Nacional del Lavoro, relying partly on U.S. taxpayer-guaranteed loans, funneled $5 billion to Iraq from 1985 to 1989. Some government-backed loans were supposed to be for agricultural purposes, but were used to facilitate the purchase of stronger stuff than wheat. Federal Reserve and Agriculture department memos warned of suspected abuses by Iraq, which apparently took advantage of the loans to free up funds for munitions. U.S. taxpayers have been left holding the bag for what looks like $2 billion in defaulted loans to Iraq."
I wouldn't trust Saddam because I am a student of form. So why trust the Bushes and their coterie of hypocritical neo-imperialists?
The massacre to come can not prevent the dissemination of wmds but can induce more of it. It may remove a nasty fascist from office, but I doubt very much that Iraq will be better off with Unca Sam in charge. With their terror and intrigue, the Ba'athists brought rapid social (especially gender) and economic development unheard of in Arab parts (bought by much enduring misery, and much of it now blown up by Unca Sam). The future holds terror and intrigue still, but social and economic development? That kinda depends on who the puppet is, how much civil belligerence a puppet government will occasion, how much the US gives a toss over many hard years, how much national development-type politics the US will allow, and, of course, how much Iraqis get to benefit from their oil. As a student of form, I doubt the 'exporting-democracy-and-development' claims from the bottom of my heart.
And would respond to such claims from the heart of my bottom.