Monday 01 January 2007
Shortly after Saddam Hussein was hanged at a US installation in Baghdad, the New York Times called him a "Dictator Who Ruled Iraq With Violence." The Washington Post dubbed Hussein an "Architect of ruthless Iraqi dictatorship." President Bush said, "Saddam Hussein was executed after receiving a fair trial."
Curiously absent from US mainstream media accounts were a few additional details. Saddam was indeed a ruthless dictator, true, but specifically ruthless on behalf of his benefactors: US multinational petroleum and arms dealers and their patrons well-placed in Washington.
As long as Saddam obediently protected and facilitated the economic and territorial interests of the American (and European) colonialists who backed him, his ruthlessness was their profit, and clearly tolerable. When Saddam said he needed assistance to quell internal resistance, he got all the help he needed in the form of cash and training for his security forces. If that meant 143 Shiites received "red cards," that was no problem for his backers.
In 1979, Iranian revolutionaries ousted the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and with him foreign corporate domination. He was replaced by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who hated the US. None other than Donald Rumsfeld flew to Baghdad as Reagan's "special envoy," to make sure Hussein understood that he had a friend in Washington. Saddam reciprocated by promising to defeat the very same Iranian revolutionaries. What followed was a long, bloody, regionally devastating stalemate.
Puppet exits the reservation.
Saddam was less obedient than Reagan and Rumsfeld had hoped. Hussein dreamed of "reuniting Mesopotamia," a plan not in keeping with the designs for the region held by his foreign partners. Saddam decided to hedge his bets and began accepting favors from the Soviets as well, which had a chilling effect on his relationship with Washington, to be sure. However vile and objectionable Saddam Hussein's methods were, he clung to his dream of ridding his region of foreign domination. Saddam Hussein's final words were, "Down with the traitors, the Americans, the spies and the Persians."
The game came to a screeching halt shortly after midnight August 2, 1990, as Saddam's army crashed into the territory of the US-Western protectorate of Kuwait. It had become time for George H. W. Bush to dispatch the former puppet, and the price would be high for the human instruments of war.
In the sixteen years that passed between the end of the first Gulf War and the execution of Saddam Hussein, a lot changed, but a lot didn't.
In fairness, finding Iraqis willing to execute Saddam Hussein should not have been difficult. His victims were many, and they suffered greatly. That, however, is not what brought the former president of Iraq to the end of a rope. Iraq, and particularly newly selected Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, are firmly under the boot heel of the US military and its commander in chief, George W. Bush. Saddam Hussein existed, was tried, and was executed at US direction, by US rules and under total US control. Bush made the final decision, and his newly designated puppet simply carried out the orders.
What price empire?
Immediately after the execution, bombings in predominantly Shiite areas of Iraq claimed the lives of at least 68 Shiites - half the number that Saddam Hussein was hanged for killing. Clearly, dead Shiites are still no concern to the American rulers of Mesopotamia. Total domination is all that matters.