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February 04, 2008

I Can See The Future

Me, nine days ago:

I'll definitely watch the Sixty Minutes segment. Sadly, though, the reality behind it—whatever it is—won't matter. Given the way the America works, the Piro interview will establish for all time that Saddam was bluffing, was itching to get nukes, etc.

Gershom Gorenberg, senior correspondent for the American Prospect:

Ever since it turned out that Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction were the equivalent of a toy pistol in a bank robber's hand, people have wondered why he maintained the illusion. The suggestion I've heard in café conversations in Jerusalem always made most sense to me: Saddam was much more scared of Iran than of the United States, and wanted at least the silhouette of a deterrent...

So I got a certain satisfaction when Ilan Goldenberg of the National Security Network alerted me to the CBS interview with the FBI agent who interrogated Saddam. In Saddam's view, the FBI man explained, imaginary weapons of mass destruction "kept the Iranians away. It kept them from reinvading Iraq."

Note that Ilan Goldberg, besides being executive director of the National Security Network, used to be on the staff of the Kerry-Edwards campaign and the Council on Foreign Relation. Just as the mass mind of the foreign policy "elite" used to believe it was indisputable that Saddam has WMD, so too they now all think he was bluffing. Thus in the long run, the past five years won't have produced even the tiniest crack in their all-encompassing fantasy world. (In fairness to Gorenberg, he does express a note of skepticism, but he's in the elite's outlying precincts.)

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at February 4, 2008 06:12 PM

Here's the speech, via Nexis as reported by the BBC World Monitoring Service. As you'll see, Saddam didn't say Iraq had WMD. It's perhaps possible he was trying to give the impression he was saying this. And it's clearly the case this made a huge impression on Americans like Kenneth Pollack. (You're certainly correct to point out the small role it plays in the Duelfer report.)

Iraq would be ready to abandon all its weapons if this move was matched by other countries, Iraqi President Saddam Husayn has said in a speech to Military Industrialization Organization officials, Iraqi TV reported on 12th June.

According to an announcer-read report of what the TV described as a a "valuable speech", Saddam Husayn started by discussing the role of the public sector, saying: "The value of the socialist [public] sector is not based on its acquisition of any activity, but on its assumption of the role of the leader of any activity. Because that sector should act as a leader, it can mobilize [resources]. Mobilization does not necessarily mean that it should own everything, or that everything should be directly linked to it from the administrative viewpoint. Mobilization means the use of all the state resources."

Saddam then discusses the virtue of honesty and courage by men. He says the tank looks beautiful when its canon is pointing forward, and a man looks great when he fights while looking ahead and when he is truthful. Citing the example of sheep and chicken, Saddam says that the male species has always been charged with fighting and protecting the female. He adds: "The most important virtue is honesty. Man should never lose honesty. When a man is honest, he can acquire other virtues that constitute the key elements in his character."

Saddam goes on to say: "We have to be part of the people who protect the homeland. We have faced repressive conditions that do not have any foundation and that are not the result of war. In war, the leader of the other side declared an unconditional cease-fire. His only stated condition was that he would retaliate against the Iraqis if they attack his army. But, they used the United Nations as a cover and they began to issue resolutions every day. They imposed unprecedented measures, which were not the result of war, but the result of several other factors that we do not want to discuss now. However, we must protect our country because we will not give them Iraq. We do not like to collect weapons for the sake of collecting weapons. But we consider the provision of the necessary means to protect our country an ethical and moral responsibility that every Iraqi man and woman must shoulder. This is our view."

Saddam says: "If people want peace, then we are the first to advocate peace. If they want to limit weapons, then we are the most enthusiastic to do that. We have done that before the Mother of Battles. We told President Husni Mubarak: You can go ahead and announce that the Arabs are prepared to join any treaty to rid the region of the so-called weapons of mass destruction. We told him: This does not mean only ballistic missiles, which are no more than artillery of a longer range; but on the condition that the Zionist entity is the first to sign such a treaty. President Husni Mubarak was surprised by the statement. He asked me: Is this really your position? I told him: Yes. You can announce it and you can say that this is the position of Egypt and Iraq."

President Saddam Husayn adds: "We are prepared to sign security agreements with anybody who wants to achieve security. However, when they possess everything and Iraq does not have anything, this is a case that indicates that the person who advocates such a situation is biased. We are Iraqis and we carry identity cards that confirm we are Iraqis, just like our fathers and forefathers. We cannot abandon our ethical and national responsibility."

Saddam adds: "If the world tells us to abandon all our weapons and keep only swords, we will do that. We will destroy all the weapons, if they destroy their weapons. But if they keep a rifle and then tell me that I have the right to possess only a sword, then we would say no. As long as the rifle has become a means to defend our country against anybody who may have designs against it, then we will try our best to acquire the rifle. This should be the basis for the relationship. If they tell us we do not want even swords or horses, and we want only sticks, we would say yes; we will have only sticks. In this case, we will attack anyone who attacks our country with sticks, because we know how to fight using them. This is our policy. If they accept it, fine. If they don't, fine. So what can we tell our enemies if they show arrogance and do not accept that? We believe that God is greater than any arrogant person. We are not weak because our faith is not weak. We do not measure things on the basis that they possess more advanced technology. As long as faith is entrenched in the heart of people, any people; and as long as the people view their right that lies on the horizon and the right they have in their hand, and seek to achieve what is on the horizon while protecting what they have in their hand, then such people are not weak. We will never agree to be weak. Our hopes in you are very high, higher than anything you can say to make us happy. You can say that you have reached this or that summit, but we will always believe that you can reach what is even higher than it."

Touching on the events before the second Gulf war and the embargo, Saddam Husayn says: "Why did Iraq have to face all the things that it faced? The answer: Because the enemies of humanity, people, and God, and the advocates of Satan, understood that Iraq regained its free will and that it can go as far as it wants and as allowed by God Almighty. Therefore, they imposed what they did against us. When we used to say this at the early stages, some people, including some sincere Iraqi nationalists, were saying that we may be exaggerating when we say that they were lying in wait to act against us, regardless of all the excuses they fabricated. But after the embargo and the fighting that lasted 10 years, this became clear. They used to say that the UN Security Council was deciding. But in fact, the UN Security Council became a cover for the United States that it uses when it wants to conceal its unilateral will. When it wants to act unilaterally, it will act unilaterally. To prove this, let's recall when the UN Security Council hesitated to give the United States its cover to impose the fabricated no-fly zones. The United States acted alone. France joined it in the north, but it later withdrew. England also joined it as a lackey. Is the war against the air defenses part of the UN Security Council? We made this argument in February 1990 during the Amman summit. We analyzed the situation then and said the United States will fabricate certain cases now that it thinks it reached the summit. We said the first target will be the Arabs, and the first among the Arabs will be those in our region, the Arabian Gulf region, because there is more oil here than any other place. We said that then, and some people were surprised by what they read then."

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at February 4, 2008 08:15 PM

I thought it was Iraq that invaded Iran, because Iran had been weakened after the revolution ?
So why would Saddam be afraid of being reinvaded ??

Posted by: littlehorn at February 4, 2008 09:02 PM

Bad emphasis:
So why would Saddam be afraid of being reinvaded ?

Posted by: littlehorn at February 4, 2008 09:11 PM

In response to littlehorn's question:

Saddam initially started the I/I war by seizing the Shatt Al Arab waterway, the tidal centre of which was the border between the two countries. Later in the war Iran reversed the advances made by Iraq and retook the lower reaches of the Shatt Al Arab and the land beyond, known as the Al Fao peninsula. To counter these gains Iraq had no other choice to use chemical weapons, or otherwise to face quite possible total defeat. The fact that Saddam knew how close he had come to defeat gave him his fear of Iran. On 17-20 March 1985 Iran had launched a major offensive with the objective of cutting the Baghdad-Basra highway and isolating Basra itself. Saddam repulsed this, but only just, losing 14,000 troops in the process. After this he realised he had started a war he could not win. In the end it ended in a stalemate with Iran accepting UN resolution 598 and Iraq submitting to a de facto ceasefire. There were no winners, only two losers, but Saddam alone knew how close it had been.

Posted by: Simon at February 5, 2008 05:55 AM

Thanks. Makes more sense.

Posted by: littlehorn at February 5, 2008 07:03 AM

littlehorn, it is quite well known that the US supported Iraq when it was at war with Iran. By definition, countries that the US supports are invaded. QED.

Posted by: Erik at February 5, 2008 07:35 PM