More on Powell at Halabja
Colin Powell’s visit to Halabja, the infamous location where “Saddam gassed his own people,” was a masterpiece of hypocrisy, as I’ve mentioned here and here. But according to the Mahablog, I didn’t know the half of it. Some excerpts:
Let’s not talk about “the world’s” reaction to this tragedy, Mr. Secretary. Let’s talk about your reaction. In 1988 then senators Claiborne Pell, Al Gore, and Jesse Helms introduced a bill to impose economic sanctions on Iraq in response to its use of chemical weapons. The Reagan White House blocked that bill. You were part of the Reagan White House, Mr. Secretary.
The truth is, 15 years ago the dead of Halabja were an inconvenience. You and others in the Reagan-Bush White House made sure those deaths didn’t get in the way of your foreign policy agenda. But when the agenda became an invasion of Iraq, you shamelessly dug up the Halabja corpses and put them on display for your own purposes. Suddenly, you really, really cared about them.
Mahablog also cites a 1993 LA Times article. Here’s an excerpt (“Bush” refers, of course, to Bush senior):
Getting new aid from Washington was critical for Iraq in the waning months of 1989 and the early months of 1990 because international bankers had cut off virtually all loans to Baghdad. They were alarmed that it was falling behind in repaying its debts but continuing to pour millions of dollars into arms purchases, even though the Iran-Iraq War had ended in the summer of 1988.
In addition to clearing the way for new financial aid, senior Bush aides as late as the spring of 1990 overrode concern among other government officials and insisted that Hussein continue to be allowed to buy so-called “dual use” technology — advanced equipment that could be used for both civilian and military purposes. The Iraqis were given continued access to such equipment, despite emerging evidence that they were working on nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction. …
And the pressure in 1989 and 1990 to give Hussein crucial financial assistance and maintain his access to sophisticated U.S. technology were not isolated incidents.
Rather, classified documents obtained by The Times show, they reflected a long-secret pattern of personal efforts by Bush — both as President and as vice president — to support and placate the Iraqi dictator. Repeatedly, when serious objections to helping Hussein arose within the government, Bush and aides following his directives intervened to suppress the resistance.
Powell was national security advisor from ’87 to ’89, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from ’89 to ’93. He was aware of and involved in these policies of the Reagan and Bush administrations. If he thinks the world should have acted earlier, he was in positions to do something about it. And he did. He helped Saddam Hussein.