Hopefully, the looting and shooting across Iraq will soon subside, and peace will settle over the innocents of Iraq – a people who’ve suffered only bloodshed and repression ever since our CIA recruited Saddam Hussein more than 40 years ago.
Blame it on the Cold War, when “Better dead than Red” became our national byword, and any useful cutthroats were automatically added to the team if they were against communism. We would have dealt with the Devil if he had offered to shoot a commie for Uncle Sam.
So when Iraqi Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim started playing footsie with the Soviets, placing his Red pals in power positions in his government, all wasn’t exactly copasetic in Washington. At the time, CIA Director Allen Dulles declared Iraq “the most dangerous spot in the world.”
Enter Saddam, whose potential for violence suited us to the max.
Whether it was the threat of Soviet missiles being set up in Iraq or the chance to secure all that black liquid gold as ours for the pumping, we hired Psycho Saddam as our hit man, set him up in an apartment across the street from the prime minister’s Ministry of Defense and ordered Qasim taken out with “extreme prejudice.”
But the Mustached One’s 1959 assassination attempt was a mess-up from the get-go, the botched mission a precursor to his subsequent eight-year war with Iran and later fights with Stormin’ Norman and Tommy Franks. The signs were all there right from the start – we just didn’t take the time to read the tea leaves.
For openers, Saddam lost his nerve and triggered the ambush too soon. One member of this hit team that couldn’t shoot straight had the wrong ammo; another, the grenade man, couldn’t fling that sucker because it got caught in his coat; and yet a third member missed the prime minister but somehow managed to shoot Saddam in the leg. Qasim escaped, and so did Saddam, limping off to Cairo, Egypt, where – even after all those blunders – the CIA propped him up in a safe-house and kept his pockets lined with Yankee green while continuing his training in terrorism
In 1963, after Qasim was knocked off in a second CIA black op, Saddam scurried home to slay his way up the power ladder and eventually become head of the dreaded al-Jihaz a-Khas, the feared intelligence apparatus of the Ba’ath party.
From there, with a little more help from his CIA pals, he continued to plot, plunder and massacre his way to the head-beast slot, where we anointed him our newest very best friend. Not just because of the Cold War or Iraq’s rich oil deposits, but also because he went after our former best friend and newest major enemy, Iran. We supported our fave new despot with the works: arms and munitions, precursors for chemical and biological weapons, and intelligence information gained from our ultrasecret intelligence intercepts of Iranian radio traffic and other hot skinny from our satellites showing up-to-the-minute Iranian battle dispositions.
Even current SecDef Donald Rumsfeld rushed to Saddam’s palace in 1983 to bow and scrape and assure the Bully of Baghdad he had a Ronald Reagan-signed blank check for almost any bombs and bullets in our arsenal. After which our generals and admirals taught him how to use them, completing his morph into a master of Military Miscalculation.
Then, in 1990, Saddam did a Noriega and foolishly bit the hand that fed him – as has almost every U.S.-sponsored Cold War dictator from every dark corner of every continent. His ill-conceived blitzkrieg against one of our primary gas stations, Kuwait, only served to get him locked down in Iraq for 12 no-fly-zone years, with heavy sanctions and bombing raids.
And when he still didn’t get it, the pre-emptors decided to take him out for good.
Now billions and perhaps trillions of our dollars and our best and brightest will be rebuilding Iraq to create a stable government – a beacon of democratic light in a dismally troubled region.
But that’s only if we don’t empower yet another world-class serial killer, and then in a decade or two have to spend still more precious American lives making another regime change in a country that’s already paid too hard a price.