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On Double Standards
David McKnight on Iraq

So, Tony Blair will be backing US military action against Iraq after all. Blair has also promised to publish the long-awaited dossier citing proof of Saddam's accumulation of weapons of mass destruction. Last week President Bush stated that "We owe it to our children, we owe it to our grandchildren to make sure that the world's worst leaders do not develop and deploy the world's worst weapons.". Bush has never uttered anything more appropriate. Right on George, how about a bit of that good old regime change ? We'll start with Washington and London then?

Given that we are now poised to attack Iraq its worth looking at a few home truths.
The US is the only country to have deployed nuclear weapons. Last month saw the 57th anniversary of one of the worst crimes against humanity - the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, wiping 200,000 lives out of existence in almost one go. Both Britain and the US have both recently stated that they are prepared to use nuclear weapons in pre-emptive strikes. Double standards abound.

Many of those calling for military action against Iraq do so by invoking the rhetoric of 'humanitarian intervention', presenting an attack on Iraq as a 'noble moral cause'. Those that now condemn Saddam Hussein's human rights abuses citing his use of chemical weapons against the Kurds in Halabja in 1988 are right to do so. However, they often neglect to mention that at the time the actions of the US and British governments were rather different. The truth is that the British and American administration's had scant regard for the plight of Iraqi Kurds in Halabja in 1988. Indeed, both governments were busy secretly arming the Iraqi dictator, in contravention of their own and international laws. At the time of Iraq's unleashing of deadly mustard and nerve gas on Iranian soliders in 1984, current US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was in Baghdad meeting with then-Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz (Rumsfeld had met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in 1983) (1).
As Dilip Hiro (2) has recently pointed out, Colonel Walter P. Lang, a senior Defence Intelligence Officer at the time, said that "the use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern". Chemical weapons were added to military plans which US intelligence officers prepared and suggested. Rumsfeld did not make any public condemnation of the use of chemical weapons until Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

We are also told that military action will see the return of democracy in Iraq. Rahul Mahajan (3) has recently drawn attention to the fact that immediately after the Gulf War, George Bush's father urged the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam. This mass uprising amongst Iraqi Kurds in the North, Shi'a Muslims in the South and thousands of Iraqis across the country seriously imperiled the Iraqi dictator . The Allied response again reflects the hypocrisy and double standards of US and British policy. The US military allowed Saddam to massacre the rebels with helicopter gunships by lifting the no-fly zone. It also seized arms depots leaving the rebels with no weapons to defend themselves. Finally, it let Saddam's feared Republican Guards safely pass through US ranks to quash the uprising. These actions were explained away by Richard Haas of the State Department who said "What we want is Saddam's regime without Saddam". A few years later Brent Scowcroft elaborated "that the United States did not want a popular democratic movement that overthrew Saddam". Is this what democracy looks like?

During the same period that the US and Britain were arming Iraq, the United States was waging a covert war against the people of Nicaragua. In 1986, the World Court found the US guilty of international terrorism. The US ignored the verdict, the very next day stepped up its attacks, targetting schools, hospitals and agricultural cooperatives. US terrorism cost the lives of 50,000 Nicaraguans and devastated the country. Many of those now calling the shots in the White House were leading figures in the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations which oversaw these heinous crimes. If one is serious about identifying Saddam Hussein's links with terrorism we need look no further than the government of the United States of America.

President Bush and Prime Minister Blair both profess to be Christians. Please remind me, who was it who said "He who is without sin, may cast the first stone"?

(1) Jeremy Scahill (2002) ‘The Saddam in Rumsfeld’s Closet’, Znet, 02 August
See also Alan Friedman (1993) Spider’s Web: Bush, Saddam, Thatcher and the Decade of Deceit London: Faber & Faber.
(2) Dilip Hiro (2002) ‘Iraq and Poison Gas’ The Nation, Sept.16
(3) Rahul Mahajan (2002) 'Iraq and the New Great Game' Common Dreams, August 5,

David McKnight is a co-ordinator of the Youth Coaliton Gogledd Cymru, a radical network of youth activists and campaigners in North Wales. He is also a Youth and Community Worker, activist and film-maker. He lives in North Wales, UK. He can be contacted at

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