Darren Kaplan has a link-rich post about the history of the US and Saddam’s Iraq. Many on the Left are fond of pointing out that the United States created Saddam and that, our bed made, we should lie in it.
That’s an, um, lie.
Kaplan points out the obvious (that Iraq was a Soviet client for decades) and that, while some US companies provided some materials that could be used for chemical and biological weapons, the overwhelming support and supply for Saddam’s WMD programs (including nuclear weapons) was provided by Old Europe.
The US did not create Saddam.
A problem, for both sides of this debate, is that it has polarized into two camps: the “The US is almost completely responsible for Saddam” camp and the “The US had almost nothing to do with Saddam” camp. Both sides are extreme edges of the actual situation.
We are not entirely innocent of complicity. We did, as mentioned, provide Iraq with some arms and some dual-use materials. And I doubt that we had no clue whatsoever about the use some of those materials would be put to.
We also provided a lot of “under the radar” aid to Iraq during its long and bloody war with Iran. Although the guns they were shooting with were Soviet, often the targets were identified by US agencies and intel. Without that aid, Iraq could possibly have been overrun by the Iranians, no matter how many AK-47s they bought or how many chemical attacks they launched against the onrushing hordes.
No one ever claims that we created the Soviets, though.
By the winter of 1941/42, the USSR was hanging on for dear life, with Moscow within sight of the German armies. We provided what military aid we could, and though it was but a drop in the bucket that was the Eastern Front, it was not totally insignificant. Also, our naval blockades and strategic bombing certainly contributed to the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany, and drew resourses away from the crucial battles in the East. It can be argued that the Soviet Union would not have survived the early years of the war without Allied aid.
Now, everyone knew that “Uncle Joe” Stalin was a murdering dictator. With the possible exception of Hollywood (and most of FDR’s staff, according to Ann Coulter), there weren’t a lot of Communist sympathizers in America. So why did we support the guy and his government?
Because it was the lesser of two evils.
Nazi Germany presented a far greater threat to America and our European friends than the Soviets did. Part of that was due to geography and part was due to estimated capability. That and the fact that Germans were occupying other nations, while the Russians were just killing Russians.
Were we wrong to ally ourselves with the Soviets? I don’t know many who think so. And, since we did so, aren’t we responsible for the horrors that the USSR visited upon her neighbors and her own people? Aren’t we responsible for the Cold War (World War 3) and millions lost because of it?
No. And I don’t hear anyone else arguing that, either.
(Although I have read articles that blame Ronald Reagan for the Balkan situation in the 1990s. Since the Soviets kept “order” in the region, it was Reagan’s fault for defeating the USSR and opening the floodgate of bloodshed. The only time Reagan gets any credit for winning the Cold War is when someone can figure out a way that it was bad politics to do so.)
We supported Iraq, to a certain degree, because the enemy of our enemy (Iran) was our friend. At least for the time being. While not everything turned out rosy, our immediate needs were served. That decision probably was just as hard to swallow as the decision to support the Soviets in the early 40s.
But it doesn’t mean that we “created” Saddam.
And go read Kaplan’s post. He’s going to post a follow-up tomorrow.