to a Quagmire

The Bush Party were
eager for their acolytes to exhume damning nuggets from the history of Saddam’s
regime. But even here their idiocy showed itself. For a truly thorough and
objective analysis of the rise and rule of the Iraqi roughneck would have
indeed unearthed damning revelations –about generations of American leadership
that helped create and sustain Saddam’s brutal regime. This history gives the
lie to everything the Bush Faction has said about Iraq and why we are there – yet it
is virtually unknown to the general public and is almost never mentioned by the
mainstream media, except in brief flashes, like shooting stars, that appear
briefly then disappear into the darkness.

I noted in a Moscow Times piece
earlier this year,
historian Roger Morris reminded us
– in broad daylight, in the New York
Times, a week before Bush launched his invasion in 2003 – that Saddam’s regime
had been helped to power by not one but two coups supported by the CIA. The
first brought the Baathist Party to power in 1963 – after the CIA had helpfully
tried to murder the incumbent strongman, Abdel Kassem, with a poisoned
handkerchief. Kassem, who had been Washington’s boy as long as he posed a
counterweight to Egypt’s Nasser and his “dangerous” secular
nationalism (oh, for some dangerous secular nationalists in the Middle East
today, eh?), left the reservation when he began “threatening Western oil
interests” and “talking of openly challenging” American
dominance in the Middle East, Morris notes. Operating from bases in Kuwait,
American agents lent military intelligence support to the Baathist-led rebels
and armed Kurdish separatists – all with the blessing of President John F.

coup was successful; Kassem was tried for “crimes against the Iraqi
people” and executed. The CIA then helpfully provided the successful
Baathists with lists of “suspected communists and leftists.” The
Baathists then proceeded to systematically murder hundreds of people on the CIA
lists. American arms were soon flowing to the new “legitimate government
of Iraq” – weapons which, as Morris notes, the Baathists turned against
the Kurds whom the CIA had armed only months before. Meanwhile, “western
corporations like Mobil, Bechtel and British Petroleum were doing business with
for American firms, their first major involvement
in Iraq.”

was coup number one. Five years later, a Baathist faction led by Saddam
Hussein’s kinsman, Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, staged a violent uprising against the
government, again with CIA support. Where did Morris get this information?
Straight from the horse’s mouth: ” Serving on the staff of the National
Security Council under Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon in the late 1960’s, I
often heard C.I.A. officers

including [Kermit}Roosevelt, grandson
of Theodore Roosevelt
and a ranking C.I.A. official for the Near East and Africa at the time
– speak openly about their close relations with the Iraqi
Baathists.” It is unlikely that the lowly thug and enforcer Saddam Hussein
would have ever been in a position to take power in Baghdad if not for the assistance of the
elist scions of power and privilege whose headquarters now proudly bears the
name of one of its later chieftains, George Herbert Walker Bush.

I proved a worthy successor to the illustrious Kermit and his Baathist-loving
colleagues. As both vice-president and president, he sustained Saddam in his
harsh rule at every turn – up to the very day that Hussein invaded Kuwait, with a
nod and wink from Bush’s envoy. With Ronald Reagan, he supported the infamous
“tilt” toward Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war, with the United States
providing military intelligence for Saddam’s WMD attacks on Iranian positions,
direct encouragement of his “area bombing” of Iranian cities, and
diplomatic cover for him in the international community, removing his regime
from the list of “terrorist supporters.” This bond was sealed, of
course, by the visit of Reagan’s special envoy to the dictator: Donald

Bush Senior had a special yen for Saddam; indeed, as I noted in March, his
passionate embrace of Hussein seemed to know no bounds, so avidly did Bush ply
the dictator with money, agricultural credits (which allowed Saddam to use his
scarce hard currency for weapons) and advanced technology – includuing
“dual-use” gear for weapons of mass destruction – despite the strong
warnings of his own Cabinet against such reckless policies, and a 1989 report
by the CIA that Iraq had greatly accelerated its nuclear program, and was by
then the world’s largest maker of chemical weapons. Bush ignored all this, and
actually signed presidential directives ordering
U.S. government agencies to
cooperate more closely with Iraq
– even after Saddam “gassed his own people” in Kurdistan.
(All this was reported in the Los Angeles
in a remarkable, prize-winning series by Douglas Frantz and Murray
Waas – in 1992. But when the run-up to the next Iraq War came round 10 years
later, there was almost no reference to this devastating work at all.)

that was not all. Again, from March:

“Bush also used the
global criminal network of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI)
to secretly funnel cash and weaponry to Saddam – then intervened to quash
federal investigations of the scam. What was BCCI? Only “one of the
largest criminal enterprises in history,” according to the U.S. Senate.
What did BCCI do? “It engaged in pandemic bribery of officials in Europe,
Africa, Asia and the Americas,”
says journalist Christopher Bryon, who first exposed the operation. “It
laundered money on a global scale, intimidated witnesses and law officers,
engaged in extortion and blackmail. It supplied the financing for illegal arms
trafficking and global terrorism. It financed and facilitated income tax
evasion, smuggling and prostitution.” Sort of an early version of the
Bush-Cheney Regime, then.

“The Italian bank BNL was one of BCCI’s main tentacles. BNL’s Atlanta
branch was the primary funnel used to send millions of secret dollars to Saddam
for arms purchases, including deadly chemicals and other WMD materials supplied
by the Chilean arms dealer Cardoen and various politically-connected operators
in the United States like, weapons merchant Matrix Churchill.

“As soon as the BNL case broke, Bush moved to throttle the investigation.
He appointed lawyers from both Cardoen and Matrix to top Justice Department
posts – where they supervised the officials investigating their old companies.
The overall probe was directed by Justice Department investigator Robert
Mueller. Meanwhile, White House aides applied heavy pressure on other
prosecutors to restrict the range of the probe – especially the fact that Bush
cabinet officials Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger had served as
consultants for BNL during their pre-White House days as spear-carriers for yet
another secretive international front that profits from war, weapons, and the
avid greasing of highly-placed palms: Kissinger Associates. The U.S. Senate
later found that the probe had been unaccountably “botched” – witnesses
went missing, CIA records got “lost,” all sorts of bad luck. Most of
the big BCCI players went unpunished or got off with wrist-slap fines and

 Sadly though, Saddam,
like Kassem, wandered off the reservation. Bush was forced to turn on his
protégé after Saddam made the foolish move of threatening the Kuwaiti royals –
Bush’s long-time oil business partners, going back to the early 1960s. Again,
from that March piece:

 “Saddam’s conflict
with Kuwait centered on two
main issues: first, his claim that the billions of dollars Kuwait had given Iraq
during the war with Iran
was simply straightforward aid to the nation that was defending the Sunni Arab
world from the aggressive onslaught of the Shiite Persians. The Kuwaitis
insisted the money had been a loan, and demanded that Saddam pay off. There was
also Saddam’s claim that Kuwait
was “slant-drilling” into Iraqi oilfields, siphoning off underground
reserves from across the border. These disputes raged for months; a deal to
resolve them was brokered by the Arab League, but fell apart at the last minute
when Kuwait
suddenly rejected the agreement, saying, “We will call in the

“How worried was Bush about the situation? Let’s look at the historical
record. In the two weeks before the invasion of Kuwait, Bush approved the sale
of an additional $4.8 million in “dual-use” technology to factories
identified by the CIA as linchpins of Hussein’s illicit nuclear and biochemical
programs, the Los
Angeles Times reports
. The day before Saddam sent his tanks across
the border, Bush obligingly sold him more than $600 million worth of advanced
communications technology. A week later, he was declaring that his long-time
ally was “worse than


“Yes, the Kuwaitis
had called in their marker. Like a warlord of old, Bush used the US military as
a private army to help his business partners. After an extensive bombing campaign
that openly – even gleefully – mocked international law in its targeting of
civilian infrastructure (a tactic repeated in Serbia by Bill Clinton – now
regarded as an “adopted son” by the elder Bush), the brief 100-hour
ground war slaughtered
fleeing Iraqi conscripts
by the thousands – while, curiously,
allowing Saddam’s crack troops, the aptly-named Republican Guard, to escape
unharmed. Later, these troops were used to kill tens of thousands of Shiites
who had risen in rebellion against Saddam – at the direct instigation of George
Bush, who not only abandoned them to their fate, but specifically allowed
Saddam to use his attack helicopters against the rebels, and also ordered US
troops to block Shiites from gaining access to arms caches. It was one of the
worst, most murderous betrayals in modern history – and has been almost
entirely expunged from the American memory.


“Then came the
Carthaginian “peace” of the victors – Iraq sown with the salt of sanctions,
which led to the unnecessary death of at least 500,000 children, according to
UN’s conservative estimates.”

Now Bush the Son has
surpassed the Father in Iraq
(while the holy spirit of Kermit Roosevelt hovers over the land). More than
650,000 dead in just three and a half years, Iraqi society destroyed,
extremists empowered – with American backing – and the United States itself
dishonored beyond measuring by officially sanctioned torture and atrocity, mass
arrests and imprisonment without charges, the Guernica-like destruction of
Fallujah, the still-ongoing (and still-unreported) bombing of civilian areas,
and by every other offense instigated and subsumed under what the Nuremberg
prosecutors called the “great international crime”: a war of aggression.

Bush II and Cheney took
office with the full intent to launch such a war, using the broken regime of
Saddam Hussein as the springboard for a morally insane scheme of global
dominance by an unchallenged and unchallengeable “unipolar” American
empire. Cheney began drawing up these plans while still serving as Defense
Secretary in the Bush I administration, and they were carefully refined during
the Clinton interregnum by a series of interlocking groups and “think
tanks,” culminating in the now-infamous “Project for a New American
Century,” founded by Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush and
other power players in the world of militarist extremism.

This group, in public
letters and weighty “policy documents,” openly proclaimed the
overwhelming “necessity” of overthrowing Saddam and establishing a
strong “military footprint” in the Middle East, as well as planting
new U.S. bases all over the world – with a special concentration in Central
Asia – embracing the concept of unilateral military action as a cornerstone of
national strategy, and increasing military spending by astronomical amounts.
All of this was planned, laid out, set down and published months – even years –
before the first plane struck the Twin
on September 11,
2001. Administration insiders like former Treasury Secretary John O’Neill and
former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke have confirmed the Bush Faction’s
early, avid interest in “taking out” Saddam.

Every policy that the
Bush-Cheney regime has pursued has grown out of that long pre-existing vision
of domination and empire, a vision that has nothing to do with “protecting
the American people from terrorism.” Almost immediately after 9/11, the
Bush Faction began diverting resources and money – often illegally – from the
effort to find Osama bin Laden into the desired war with Iraq, as Bush’s
former top commander, General Tommy Franks, has admitted. Britain‘s Tony Blair eagerly joined this effort,
as the Downing Street memos detail in painful

In fact, Bush and Blair
got their first taste of war crime blood in May 2002. That was when they
launched a ferocious air war against Iraq, espite the unequivocal ruling
by Blair’s own lawyers that such a campaign constituted a clear act of military
aggression. As I noted in an article last year:

“The avowed purpose
of this bombing campaign — openly admitted by U.S.
military brass — was to destroy Iraq’s
defenses in preparation for the long-planned ground assault. It began months
before the U.S. Congress gave its rather vague approval for possible military
action to enforce the disarming of Iraq’s nonexistent WMD. …The memos
reveal that Bush and Blair had already decided on war, during their April 2002
meeting at Bush’s ranch in Crawford. No doubt the two Christian leaders — who
bray their faith in Jesus at every opportunity — knelt in prayer together as
they sealed their pact of blood. From that point on, the memos show, Blair and
Bush ignored all concerns about legality, all questions about the shaky WMD
evidence and the extensive worries of many insiders about the near-total lack
of planning for the postwar situation. They sought only to “create the
political conditions” for war, manufacturing public consent through slick,
fear-mongering propaganda and, in the memos’ most famous phrase, by “fixing the
facts and intelligence around the policy” of aggression….


“Not only were they
clearing the path for the coming invasion, but the memos show that the leaders
also hoped to provoke Saddam into retaliating, thereby giving them a PR excuse
for war: “self-defense” against Iraqi “aggression.” But Saddam, this “raging
madman” lusting to destroy America
with his fearsome weapons, did nothing. And here we see how the bombing
campaign strips bare the Big Lie that drove the whole enterprise: the supposed
threat of Saddam’s WMD. The Crawford knee-benders never would have launched
their war if they really believed Saddam might rain anthrax on Jerusalem or slip Osama a plutonium core or
gas Coalition troops as they came across the border. They knew, as his lack of
response to the air assault proved, that the WMD threat was empty, that Saddam,
their former ally, was a broken reed.


“In fact, Saddam
spent the months of bombardment frantically offering a virtual surrender:
unhindered WMD inspections, free elections under international supervision,
support for any U.S.
position on Israel-Palestine, vast oil concessions. But these offers,
negotiated through back channels with U.S. intelligence and leading
neo-conservatives, were spurned by Bush, The New York Times reported in
November 2003.”

What Bush and Blair
wanted was conquest, not disarmament or Iraqi freedom or a damping down of
terrorism in the world. They wanted the power and status given to “war
leaders” – as George II himself confirmed to a Bush family biographer,
Mickey Herskowitz, in 1999. Herskowitz, whose work
was too considered too truthful to be used as a propaganda piece in the 2000
campaign – but who has nonetheless remained close to Bush Senior – said Bush
was lusting for war long before taking office, as Guerilla News Network
reported in 2004

“He was thinking
about invading Iraq
in 1999,” said…Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One
of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a
commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital
built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said,
‘If I have a chance to invade
·.if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m
going to get everyth
ing passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a
successful presidency.”

Thus, by his own
admission, Bush regards war — slaughter, ruin, chaos and terror — as the
measure of success, the path to greatness. He sees blood as the prime lubricant
for his rapacious domestic policies. He uses unprovoked military aggression to
achieve his personal and political goals.

This personal
psychopathology dovetailed with calculating geopolitical ambitions of Dick
Cheney. From the GNN story:

 According to
Herskowitz, George W. Bush’s
beliefs on Iraq were based in part on a notion
dating back to the Reagan White House – ascribed in part to now-vice president
Dick Cheney, Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee under Reagan.
“Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can
jump on, go ahead and invade.”


“Bush’s circle of
pre-election advisers had a fixation on the political capital that British
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher collected from the Falklands War. Said
Herskowitz: ‘They were just absolutely blown away, just enthralled by the
scenes of the troops coming back, of the boats, people throwing flowers at
[Thatcher] and her getting these standing ovations in Parliament and making
these magnificent speeches.'”

Every action that the Bush
Faction has taken in regard to Iraq, and to its so-called “War on
Terror,” has grown out of these plans, schemes and psychological needs
that manifested themselves long before 9/11. And every such action has actually
increased the danger and virulence of terrorism in the world – not least the
state terror that Bush and Cheney have visited upon Iraq, on a scale far
surpassing the wildest dreams of bin Laden and his ilk.

None of it, not a single
bit of it, has anything whatsoever to do with the security of the American
people. It has only to do with the aggrandizement of George Walker Bush,
Richard Bruce Cheney, and their courtiers, their corporate cronies, and their
fellow feasters on the bodies of the dead.

piece originally referred to “Archibald Roosevelt, grandson of Teddy
Roosevelt.” This was in fact a perpetuation of a mistake in the
original article by Roger Morris; it should be “Kermit Roosevelt,” who
was the TR grandson with a lifelong involvement with the CIA. Apologies
for the error, which was spotted by an astute reader over at It has now been corrected.*

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