When Donald Rumsfeld went to Baghdad as President Reagan’s envoy in early 1984, he was instructed to reassure the Iraqi regime that– despite the adminstration’s public codemnation of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran– it was still interested in “continuing to improve bilateral relations with Iraq, at a pace of Iraq’s choosing.”
In other words, Saddam, the mere fact that you’re using what we will later call a weapon of mass destruction won’t stand in the way of better US-Iraqi relations whenever you feel like it.
This revealing, though hardly surprising, bit of realpolitik appeared in a recently-declassified message from then-Secretary of State George Shultz to Rumsfeld.
It came to light thanks to one of the most remarkable sites on the web– the National Security Archive, a database of declassified US foreign-policy and other documents (including reports on the historic Richard Nixon-Elvis Presley meeting). Worth a look around.