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October 08, 2004

Hooray For US Foreign Policy. Hip. Hip. Hooray.

I remember speaking to people before the invasion of Iraq who were very exercised about Saddam Hussein being our "sworn enemy." I told them Saddam would probably do most anything to return to the status he had during the eighties as our henchman. And that if he managed it, he'd probably wet his pants with relief.

However, even though I thought that, I still am genuinely shocked by the quotes below from the Iraq Survey Group report. I don't think we'll be hearing much on the news about this.

Throughout the 1990s [Saddam Hussein] tested Washington's willingness to open a dialogue. On multiple occasions very senior Iraq's close to the President made proposals through intermediaries (the author among others) for dialogue with Washington. Baghdad offered flexibility on many issues, including offers to assist in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Moreover, in informal discussions, senior officials allowed that, if Iraq had a security relationship with the United States, it might be inclined to dispense with WMD programs and/or ambitions.
-- page 4 of the "Transmittal Message" section of Volume I of the final Iraq Survey Group Report

In a custodial debriefing, Saddam said he wanted to develop better relations with the US over the latter part of the 1990s. He said, however, that he was not given a chance because the US refused to listen to anything Iraq had to say.
-- page 31 of the "Regime Strategic Intent" section of Volume I of the final Iraq Survey Group Report

"The case of Saddam Hussein, a sworn enemy of our country, requires a candid appraisal of the facts."
-- Dick Cheney, August 26, 2002

"Saddam Hussein was a threat... He was a threat because he was a sworn enemy to the United States of America."
-- George Bush, June 17, 2004

"Military action is the very last resort for us."
-- George Bush, October 23, 2003

Posted at October 8, 2004 12:12 AM | TrackBack

I'm really tired of administration apologists saying "We know Saddam had WMD, because he used them." I would so-o-o-o like a reporter, when given that tired answer, to ask, "well, when was that? And what was the US response at the time? Was the US response at the time correct?" The answer is, back in the 80s, and the sainted Ronals Reagan's answer was, "oh well."

If you are interested in US policy toward iraq at the time it was actually using chemical weapons, I suggest you look at

This site has actual Dept of State briefings and so forth from the 1980s. Here's a choice quote:

"When asked whether the U.S.'s conclusion that Iraq had used chemical weapons would have "any effect on U.S. recent initiatives to expand commercial relationships with Iraq across a broad range, and also a willingness to open diplomatic relations," the department's spokesperson said "No. I'm not aware of any change in our position. We're interested in being involved in a closer dialogue with Iraq"

As an added bonus, the site has a picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam, back in the good old days, when he was our henchman.

It was weird watching Bush praise Reagan at his funeral, when Bush's whole foreign policy has been a stinging repudiation of the containment policy first articulated by Truman, and followed by all subsequent Presidents, including Reagan, who was a particularly vigorous advocate. Was Reagan's fundamental foreign policy wrong? It must be, since Bush so wholeheartedly abandoned it? Why do the Bush people praise him then? Do they just admire the wholehearted, steadfast pursuit of wrong-headed foreign policy? I guess so.

Posted by: clete at October 8, 2004 02:22 PM


Thanks for mentioning the National Security Archive site in general, and that quote (which I hadn't seen before) in particular.

The National Security Archive is an amazing resource. Sometimes I believe I have fallen slightly in love with it, if a person can love a disembodied collection of information.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 10, 2004 10:49 AM

The great and greatly missed Bill Hicks...

"So, uh, how do you know exactly what terrible weapons of mass destruction they have in Iraq?"

"Well, we, um, looked at the receipt."

Posted by: James J. Dominguez at October 12, 2004 06:03 PM