DAVID BRIN's world of ideas

 

THE SHAME OF 1991

by David Brin, Ph.D.

(Copyright © 2004)

Remove an "H", so that father becomes son, and the crew is almost identical. The same bunch who cynically coddled and supported Saddam for years, posing with him for smiling pictures, helping cover-up his brutality, giving him every aid - in oppressing his own people, in threatening Israel and his neighbors, and in slaughtering a generation of young people in Iran.1


[image from Council on Foreign Relations]

Oh, the club reacted swiftly when Saddam ultimately slipped his leash (as coddled madmen do). They sure leaped into action when their Saudi patrons panicked over the invasion of Kuwait! They leaped -- and sent forth our sons to rescue the sheiks.

Only then, with that task done, they ordered a halt.

Have you heard tapes of then-President George H. W. Bush urging the Iraqi people to rebel and promising that "we're on our way"?

Have you read how General Norman Schwarzkopf begged for a few more days to finish the job... or even just twelve more hours to at least rescue the people of nearby Basra, who had risen at our request and in our name? Or about thousands of captured Iraqi soldiers and officers who pleaded to be re-armed and sent north, so they could take care of Saddam themselves?

Watch the George Clooney movie Three Kings for a glimpse of what we did, betraying a brave population to whom we had given our solemn word.2 A stain upon our honor worse than any I can remember, from my own lifetime or history. A stain so horrific that it alone disqualifies these people from respect.

Neocons defend that decision by hypocritically citing United Nations resolutions, of all things. As if they give two sheckels for the UN! Or by claiming "no one would follow us to Baghdad" -- as if they cared about world opinion this time? As if going to Baghdad was even necessary in 1991, when Basra might have sufficed?3

In blatant fact, the order to stop came from Riyadh. The Saudis -- with restive Shiite populations of their own -- did not want to see a federated or divided Iraq, with free Shiite Arabs just across the border. So they said "stop"...

... and this crew of great Americans snapped-to. They obeyed the one constituency who is always heeded. There is only one consistent explanation for the way both Bush administrations have behaved. They do the bidding of Riyadh.4 They do it even more reliably than they serve the interests of their fraternity brothers. It is an absolute predictor of policy. And whether you are a liberal, moderate or conservative, it should frighten the hell out of you.

NOTES

1Neocons seem determined to saber-rattle and drive the awakening Iranian people back into the arms of the mullahs, every time democracy starts to stir over there. Watch the timing of stunts like the "Axis of Evil" speech. Polls show that American culture is immensely popular among the young in Iran. (One of the few places we're popular right now!) The mullahs and neocons must constantly work in tacit tempo to maintain this artificial enmity between old friends. An unnatural and ahistorical enmity that suits them both -- and the Saudis -- just fine. return to text

2Contrast with the Balkans. When Serbians rose up against Milosevic, we backed them up, keeping our word. return to text

3Several Iraqi generals say that in 1991 they kept expecting American operatives to come offering support for a coup, especially at the end of major fighting. They were eager, waiting, but no offers or feelers came. Despite rationalizations about "UN resolutions" and "going to Baghdad," a choice had been made to deliberately keep Saddam in power. It was made then by the same men who sent us into this mess. Ever wonder why? return to text

4Hint: what group of potential material witnesses -- and possible co-conspirators -- were spirited out of the US, without being questioned, in First Class luxury, right after 9/11, while Americans were still forbidden to fly? return to text