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imperialism & war

Colin Powell's Shameless Behavior

In spite of decades of despicable behavior by the United States toward the Kurds, Colin Powell visits Halabja, the site of a poison gas attack by Saddam Hussein, and expresses condolences to the Kurds. The history of why this is so very hypocritical.
Sometimes the shameless behavior of members of the Bush administration becomes so nauseating that it is almost unbearable. Here we have the spectacle of Colin Powell going to Halabja, the scene of the horrific deaths of many Kurds due to poison gas, commiserating with the Kurds there, visiting a monument dedicated to the victims and expressing deep sorrow on behalf of the US government.

There are a few inconvenient facts left unsaid in the corporate media's coverage of this event. At the time of the Halabja massacre the United States was an ally of Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war and was providing the chemical and biological weapons used by Iraq and the satellite surveillance of Iran's troop movements. The United States expressed no outrage or condemnation when the Halabja massacre occurred and continued the military support for Saddam Hussein. In fact, the US was so accommodating towards Iraq during this period of time that they even forgave Iraq for an Iraqi jet firing missiles, hitting a US warship and causing American deaths. In addition, because both Iran and Iraq were using poison gas in the war, there is lingering controversy over which side actually caused the deaths at Halabja.

There is more history the corporate media would like to consign to the memory hole. The Kurds in Iraq have been betrayed several times by the United States. When the Shah was in power and the US was friendly toward Iran and wished to weaken Iraq, the Kurds were armed by the CIA and urged to revolt against Saddam Hussein. However, the goal was just to weaken Iraq and not to create an independent Kurdistan, which the CIA considered destabilizing. So just when the Kurds were making real military progress, all CIA aid was cut off and the Kurds were slaughtered by Saddam Hussein's forces. When questioned about this event, Henry Kissinger made his famous comment about how covert actions should not be confused with missionary work. Another betrayal was when George Bush, Sr. urged the Kurds and Shiites to revolt immediately after the first Persian Gulf war, and once again the US let the Kurds be slaughtered without providing any aid from the hundreds of thousands of US troops in the region. Then, of course, there are all the billions of dollars in military aid the US gave to Turkey in its ethnic cleansing of Kurds in the southeastern region of Turkey. Tens of thousands of Kurds were killed, millions made refugees and thousands of villages bombed into rubble. They even allowed Turkey to invade the so-called no-fly zone in northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurds, even though the stated purpose of the no-fly zone was to protect Kurds.

In light of the decades of despicable treatment of the Kurds by the United States, for Colin Powell to go to Halabja and express condolences to the Kurdish people has to rank as one of the greatest examples of hypocrisy and shameless behavior in human history. What could top this for brazen audacity-maybe a Nazi war criminal going to Auschwitz and expressing sorrow for the genocide, while simultaneously denying any responsibility for it?

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Outrage 17.Sep.2003 15:26


"The United States expressed no outrage or condemnation when the Halabja massacre occurred and continued the military support for Saddam Hussein."

In fact, the Senate did pass the Prevention of Genocide Act, unanimously, in 1988 after the attack. The bill would have cut-off all assistance to Iraq, military or otherwise, oil imports, et cetera. The Reagan Administration opposed the bill, and effectively killed it in the House.

After the attacks, not only did the Reagan Administration fail to condemn Iraq -- it doubled dual-use exports to Iraq on an annualized basis.

to be FAIR 17.Sep.2003 15:38


I've always been fond of FAIR's write-up on the matter of how the US was conducting itself in the late 80's with regard to Iraq. The final section "Too tough on Iraq?" is the most relevant, although he whole thing is a good read and well sourced. Here's an excerpt:

In September [of 1988], the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to impose sanctions on Iraq. These sanctions were nothing like today's global embargo. They called for a halt to U.S. military aid, commodity credits and loan guarantees and a ban on U.S. imports of Iraqi oil--which, in a global oil market, would have a token effect compared to the post-Gulf War global blockade imposed by the U.N.

The Reagan and Bush administrations "adamantly" opposed the bill, calling it "premature" (New York Times, 1/8/89, 9/15/88), and eventually the bill died quietly in a conference committee after being further watered down. Sanctions "would hurt U.S. exporters and worsen our trade deficit," Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly told a congressional panel in June 1990, six weeks before the invasion of Kuwait. (Kelly is now the Bush administration's top State Department official for East Asia.)