The Things We'll Soon Learn
Some wags on the Left theorize that the U.S. will never allow Saddam Hussein to come to a public trial, because it would expose past U.S. business dealings with Saddam. The notion is stupid on two counts. First, those past business dealings are already well-known. Second, compared to many other countries, those past business dealings are rather minor. The following is excerpted from a book review of Kenneth Timmerman's 1991 book The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq:
According to Timmerman, each of the players had a not-very-secret agenda: Saddam was determined to destroy Israel and be master of the Arab world; the governments of France, Germany, South Africa and Brazil were in it for big money; Egypt, Argentina, Italy, Britain and a host of others were in it for the smaller money left behind; the Soviets had their view of the world; and the Americans played regional balance-of-power against Iran, particularly during the second term of the Reagan presidency. And behind all of them were their defense industries, tying their products to their countries' perceived "national interests."
The companies involved, according to Timmerman, read like a "Who's Who" of international business. Timmerman makes the case that all were knowingly involved. Many of the affected companies will, surely, try to defend their actions.
German companies involved in the arming of Iraq included the NUKEM nuclear consortium, and its parent company, Degussa, as well as Messerschmidtt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB), Thyssen Rheinstahl Technology, and Preussag AG. All told, more than 100 German companies were involved - dozens of which maintained offices in Baghdad. The German connection was instrumental in creating Iraq's poison gas and nuclear capabilities. And German companies and technology were used to extend the range of the Iraqi SCUD missiles which hit Israel and Saudi Arabia.
French companies involved in the arming of Iraq include Avions Marcel Dassault-Breguet Aviation, Snecma, Matra, Thompson-CSF, Aerospatiale, and many others. The Institut Merieux built the first Iraqi bacteriological laboratory. Several French government agencies were also involved including the Office Generale de L'Air and the Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique.
Belgium's Sybetra used no fewer than 50 subcontractors from Belgium, France and England to build the Akashat/Al Qaim chemical plant in Iraq.
Also involved in arming Iraq are firms from Italy, Austria, Britain, Brazil, South Africa, and many others. The United States had an on-again-off-again relationship with Iraq. While Iraq was on the State Department's list of countries supporting terrorism, very little happened; but even then there was tension between the Department of Commerce (supporting ever-increasing trade with Saddam) and the Department of Defense (wanting to restrict sales of military-related technology).
The U.S.-Iraq Business Forum, a group promoting American trade with Iraq includes such notable firms on its membership roster as General Motors, Fisher Scientific, Lockheed, Caterpillar, Westinghouse, AT&T, Pepsicola International, Phillip Morris International and all the major American oil companies. The Forum lobbied Congress to ease trade and technology restrictions on Iraq and they were often successful. The United States supplied billions of dollars worth of agricultural credits (freeing Iraqi oil revenues to be spent on arms) and frequently permitted the sale of U.S. technology applicable to weapons research and development programs to Iraq.
Timmerman documents it all - including the role of Banca Nazionale da Lavorno (BNL) in Atlanta, which financed the agricultural credits and billions in other arms purchases.
The Death Lobby drips with cynicism. Jacques Chirac, the Gaullist Prime Minister of France, bade Saddam and his entourage farewell after a 1975 trip by announcing that French policy "is dictated not merely by interest, but also by the heart. France deems it necessary to establish relationships between producers and consumers on terms that best conform to the interests of both parties." In this case, French interest is solely money.
The Franco-Iraqi Nuclear Cooperation Treaty of 1976 included the clause that "all persons of the Jewish race or the Mosaic religion" be excluded from participating in the program, in either Iraq or France.
The German government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl faced and ignored specific information about illegal sales of German chemical capabilities. More than ignored - the German government issued a permit stating that "according to current rules, machinery, electrical equipment, regulation, measuring and testing instruments for a research, development and training institute with eight main sections, name: Project Saad 16, do not need an export permission." Saad 16 is one of Saddam Hussein's primary nuclear weapons research centers.
How nice. The French government agreed to an official policy of anti-semitism in order to help Saddam build a nuclear weapons program Saddam may well have used one day to vaporize Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported
the following back on June 18, 2001:
Two American arms control experts, combing through unpublished reports by a disbanded arms inspection commission, say they found evidence that Iraq continued to buy prohibited weapons or parts long after United Nations sanctions were imposed in 1990.
Many of the purchases appear to have been made in Central and Eastern Europe, the experts, Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control in Washington, and Kelly Motz, a project researcher, say in a new independent report. They found documents concerning illegal sales or potential sales by companies in Ukraine, Belarus and Romania. Among the purchases made by the government of Saddam Hussein were missile components and high-technology machine tools.
In the past, United Nations arms inspectors for Iraq had been reluctant to identify countries in public reports, in part because there have also been suspicions of illegal trading by companies in Russia, a powerful member of the Security Council.
According to this NYT story and graphic
, Germany supplied 50 percent of Iraq's needs for its nuclear weapons program, while just 3.5 percent came from the United States.
Jim Dunnigan over at StrategyPage.com long ago exploded the myth
that the U.S. armed Saddam:
When Iraq was on it's weapons spending spree from 1972 (when its oil revenue quadrupled) to 1990, the purchases were quite public and listed over $40 billion worth of arms sales. Russia was the largest supplier, with $25 billion. The US was the smallest, with $200,000. A similar myth, that the U.S. provided Iraq with chemical and biological weapons is equally off base. Iraq requested Anthrax samples from the US government, as do nations the world over, for the purpose of developing animal and human vaccines for local versions of Anthrax. Nerve gas doesn't require technical help, it's a variant of common insecticides. European nations sold Iraq the equipment to make poison gas. [Via CommandPost.com]
Saddam's conventional weaponry
was largely French, Russian and Chinese.
It's one of the common refrains of the anti-war crowd, the claim that the United States "created" Saddam Hussein by providing him weaponry for the Iran-Iraq war. It's a lie. The three biggest sellers of arms to the Hussein regime from 1973 through 2002 were ... drumroll.... Russia, China and France, according to
the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Those three countries combined sold Saddam 82 percent of his weapons during that period. The United States sold him 1 percent. Chart here
Remind me again - which members of the U.N. Security Council promised to veto any resolution authorizing the use of military force against Saddam Hussein? Oh, that's right. Russia. China. And France
Thanks to Saddam's regime, Iraq owes billions to France, Germany and Russia. For what? For weapons and for components needed to develop weapons of mass destruction. A public trial may well allow the world see the real reason France, Germany and Russia actively opposed efforts to remove Saddam from power.
For that reason, I have a hunch France might try to derail a trial, perhaps by proposing Saddam be sent into exile to live out his days incommunicado under armed guard, in exchange for providing the world with information as to the whereabouts of the weapons of mass destruction, and a full accounting of the regime's trail of mass murder. France will argue that the information is more valuable than revenge via execution, and Russia and China will nod and agree with the proposal - but it will really be all about covering up their complicity in arming and propping up one of the worst mass-murdering tyrants in world history.
UPDATE: Tim Blair
has some related thoughts - and don't miss the many good and pithy comments.