Iraq,  Stateside,  Your View

Proposed witnesses for a US Chilcot-style Inquiry

By Andrew Murphy

The United States should take a leaf from the UK government’s playbook and establish the equivalent of the Chilcot Inquiry. However, one major caveat should be that the inquiry not start with events beginning in 2003 but rather in 1969. Starting with events of 2003 would do nothing but pander to the Bush-baiters and the Neocon conspiracy theorists. If the USA is ever going to get to the heart of our Iraq policy and why what happened in 2003 actually happened, then the following witnesses should be called.

First witness- Henry Kissinger

Roger Morris, former State Department official in the Johnson and Nixon Administration, has written that the CIA helped encourage the Ba’ath coup of Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr. Much like his hero Joseph Stalin, Saddam worked behind the scenes as al-Bakr’s deputy and consolidated his power until 1976 when he became general in the Iraqi army and al-Bakr resigned his office in 1979, handing over the reigns of power to Saddam. It was a simple formal act since Saddam had already been de facto ruler of Iraq for many years. And much like Stalin again, after consolidating his power, the first thing Saddam did was have a show trial and weed out the old guard who had come to power with him in 1968.

Kissinger and Nixon both felt that Iraq under al-Bakr was getting too friendly with the Soviet Union around 1972, so they decided to agree with the Shah of Iran to help support the Kurds in northern Iraq. It was no secret the Shah hated the Baghdad regime, and supporting the Kurds could help undermine al-Bakr’s government. Nixon and Kissinger sold weapons to the Kurds (sending them captured Soviet weapons used in Vietnam).

By 1975 the Shah was able to come to an agreement with al-Bakr to cease the covert hostility toward each other, which meant the Iranians could no longer give aid and support to the Kurds. The new Ford administartion, with Kissinger still as head of foreign policy, agreed to cease giving aid to the Kurds.

The Kurdish leader Mustafa Brazani pleaded with Kissinger:

“Our movement and people are being destroyed in an unbelievable way with silence from everyone. We feel, Your Excellency, that the United States has a moral and political responsibility towards our people, who have committed themselves to your country’s policy. Mr. Secretary, we are anxiously awaiting your quick response.”

Knowing the USA and Iran no longer had the Kurds’ back, the Iraqi army moved in. The result was the destruction of over 1200 villages, thousands killed and tortured by Iraqi secret police and 250,000 Kurdish refugees fleeing into Iran.

The same year, the Select Committee on Intelligence, spearheaded by Congressmen Otis Pike, found the whole sordid affair cynical to say the least. The report on Iraq starts states: “The President, Dr. Kissinger, and the Shah hoped that our clients [Barzani’s Kurds] would not prevail”. Further, the Committee determined that much of the suffering of the Kurds was a direct result of the USA’s promises.

“The Kurds might have reached an accommodation with [Iraq’s] central government, thus gaining at least a measure of autonomy while avoiding further bloodshed. Instead the Kurds fought on, sustaining thousands of casualties and 200,000 refugees.”

This led Kissinger to make one of his many infamous remarks when asked why the Nixon/Ford Administration embarked on such a cynical enterprise: “One should not confuse undercover action with social work.”

Therefore, calling Dr. Kissinger to an Iraq Inquiry seems rather obvious. What did he know of the CIA’s role in the 1968 coup bringing Saddam Hussein a heartbeat away from absolute power, why did his cynical ploy with the Kurds lead to power consolidation of the Ba’athist regime with their defeat of the Kurds and why when given the opportunity to get ride of al-Bakr regime by way of the Kurdish uprising, the USA refused to follow through.

Second witnesses- Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Alexander Haig

No sooner had Saddam Hussein come to absolute power in 1979 when the Shah was overthrown and the Islamic Revolution came to power in Tehran. Saddam was bound and determined to take advantage of the turmoil in Iran since he had never been a fan of the Shah of Iran and al-Bakr’s ceasefire of diplomatic hostility in the early 1970s.

According to journalist and former Iraqi government official Said Aburish, Saddam Hussein met with King Hussein in Jordan.

“There is absolutely no doubt that Saddam discussed his plans to invade Iran with King Hussein. There is considerable evidence that he discussed his plans to invade Iran with the CIA agents that King Hussein prevailed on him to meet with. After that he flew to Saudi Arabia and there is a record of him telling King Fahd that he is going to invade Iran, and then after that, I think he had a stop-over in Kuwait and he did the same thing. What the trips did was to guarantee him American support in invading Iran. Financial support from the oil producing countries after their invasion and a channel to buy arms.”

Author Kenneth Timmerman writes that the secret meeting with the CIA was Brzezinski’s idea (Brzezinski was Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor). It was the policy of the Carter administration to give the impression that there was a green light from the USA for an Iraqi invasion of Iran.

Alexander Haig, the first Secretary of State in the Reagan administration, learned quickly on his first trip to the Middle East in 1981 how many of the Arab leaders were aware of the prior knowledge of the previous administration of the Iraq-Iran war. “It was also interesting to confirm that President Carter gave the Iraqis a green light to launch the war against Iran through Fahd.”

Both Carter and Brzezinski deny giving Iraq any green light, but Brzezinski in his memoirs does admit they toyed with the idea of giving aid to Iraq if Iran did not free the American hostages.

Perhaps Carter and Brzezinski can come before an Inquiry and answer “yes” or “no” as to whether or not the USA gave a green light to Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, and Alexander Haig can testify to exactly what he was told by Middle Eastern leaders about what they knew of the Carter Administration’s knowledge and or encouragement of the Iraq-Iran war.

Third witnesses- George H Bush and Brent Scowcroft

After the first Gulf War ended, rather than overthrow the regime in Baghdad, with Coalition forces, the Bush Administration agreed that moving into Baghdad would violate the spirit of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Iraq. Later, in an article for Time magazine, Bush Sr and Scowcroft elaborated as to their reasons.

We were disappointed that Saddam’s defeat did not break his hold on power, as many of our Arab allies had predicted and we had come to expect. President Bush repeatedly declared that the fate of Saddam Hussein was up to the Iraqi people. Occasionally, he indicated that removal of Saddam would be welcome, but for very practical reasons there was never a promise to aid an uprising. While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of the Iraqi state. We were concerned about the long-term balance of power at the head of the Gulf.

On the surface, that seems like a perfectly logic statement from men who are both from the realist school of international relations. However, there is one whopper of a lie in those remarks. The Bush Administration did in fact promise to aid an internal uprising against Saddam after the war.

Starting in February 1991, the “Voice of Free Iraq” began calling on CIA sponsored radio stations in Saudi Arabia for the people of Iraq to rise up and overthrow Saddam.

“Rise to save the homeland from the clutches of dictatorship so that you can devote yourself to avoid the dangers of the continuation of the war and destruction. Honorable sons of the Tigris and Euphrates, at these decisive moments of your life, and while facing the danger of death at the hands of foreign forces, you have no option in order to survive and defend the homeland but put an end to the dictator and his criminal gang.”

During the month of March 1991, nearly every city in northern Iraq was occupied by revolting forces as were many of the Shia cities in the south. But once the vastly superior Iraqi army made their counter offensive, the revolt was crushed with brutal efficiency. It was estimated in trials that followed after the regime was destroyed in 2003, that Iraqi military and secret policy killed over 100,000 Shia Muslims in 1991.

So perhaps George Bush and Brent Scowcroft could explain to an Inquiry why the CIA was broadcasting messages to the people of Iraq to overthrow their dictator and why George Bush gave a speech on February 15, 1991: “There is another way for the bloodshed to stop: And that is, for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside and then comply with the United Nations’ resolutions and rejoin the family of peace-loving nations.” Then they can explain to the Inquiry why they sat on their hands and watched with cold indifference as 100,000 people were killed by the Iraqi army because of the revolt the USA had encouraged.

Fourth witnesses- Bill Clinton and 98 Senators who were in the US Senate in 1998

On October 31, 1998, President Bill Clinton signed into law, after passing unanimously in the United States Senate, the Iraq Liberation Act which stated:

“It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.”

It was the Clinton Administration which first made the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

It would certainly be of interest to find out from Bill Clinton why his government was convinced that Iraq had WMDs, those same WMDs that the second Bush Administration “fabricated” in 2003. Also if the invasion of Iraq was a pure case of aggression for no reason but for the sake of Halliburton, it would be interesting to hear why a unanimous US Senate thought Iraq was worthy of regime change in 1998 but not so in 2003.

So indeed, those in the previous Bush Administration and those who supported the regime change in Iraq in 2003 should have nothing to fear at all in having a Chilcot-style Inquiry. It would be most illuminating to finally have Kissinger explain his betrayal of the Kurds; how Jimmy Carter helped Saddam consolidate power; why George HW Bush and Brent Scowcroft encouraged a revolt in Iraq in 1991 only to leave the Iraqis hanging; and why Bill Clinton and so many in his administration believed Iraq had WMDs.

But we know this will never happen; after all it would disprove the “NeoCons are to blame for all the evils in that region” argument once and for all. We can’t have that; The Power of Nightmares is simply the alpha and omega for too many people. The “realists” have much to answer for in regards to Iraq.