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Minority report.

It was a bad day for the Kurdish nation when the American talking classes began comparing Kurds to Palestinians. Disposability could be the only outcome. At present, the political honors are about even; the Palestinians were never even promised any aid, let alone a state, by the Administration. Faced, for the moment, with a denial of their right to self-determination, they made the stupid error of placing at least part of their trust in Saddam Hussein. The Kurds, faced with a serious challenge to their right to exist, put their faith in George Bush. And now Iraqi pilots and soldiers are presumably speaking in gross tones about the "turkey shoots"' "fish-in-a-barrel" hunts and "cockroach raids" with which they seek to erase the shame of the Kuwait syndrome.

This horrific betrayal is remarkable for being one of the few instances of an almost exact historical replay. On my desk since August last has been a bootleg copy of the Pike commission report, the 1976 findings of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Representative Otis Pike. So damning were the disclosures of this report that the White House and the C.I.A. convinced a more than usually supine Congress to suppress it until an executive censorship had been imposed on the text. The reason for this concealing action becomes immediately clear if one turns to the pages that deal with the Nixon-Kissinger program, begun in 1973, of using the Kurdish insurgency in northern Iraq to destabilize the Baathist regime in Baghdad. With the help of the Shah of Iran and the Israeli Mossad, a policy of aid and encouragement was followed with these predictable results, according to the Pike commission:
  The apparent "no win" policy of the U.S. and its ally [Iran]
  deeply disturbed this Committee. Documents in the Committee's
  possession clearly show that the President, Dr. Kissinger
  and the foreign head of state [the Shah] hoped that our
  clients [the Kurds] would not prevail. They preferred instead
  that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities
  to sap the resources of our ally's neighboring country
  [Iraq]. This policy was not imparted to our clients, who were
  encouraged to continue fighting. Even in the context of covert
  action, ours was a cynical enterprise.

After the Shah and Saddam had temporarily composed their plan stated. "We should therefore determine their attitude eir differences at a summit of OPEC nations in 1975, the Kurds were dumped by the Peacock Throne and by its chief ally, the United States. The Baathists moved into Kurdistan in strength:

The insurgents were clearly taken by surprise as well. Their adversaries, knowing of the impending aid cut-off, launched an all-out search-and-destroy campaign the day after the agreement was signed. The autonomy movement was over and our former clients scattered before the central government's superior forces.

The cynicism of the U.S. and its ally had not yet completely run its course, however. Despite direct pleas from the insurgent leader and the C.I.A. station chief in the area to the President and Dr. Kissinger, the U.S. refused to extend humanitarian assistance to the thousands of refugees created by the abrupt termination of military aid. As the Committee staff was reminded by a high U.S. official, "covert action should not be confused with missionary work."

No indeed. The man who became Director of Central Intelligence at the time that the Kurdistan "operation" was being hastily covered up and the findings of the Pike commission censored was of course George Herbert Walker Bush. Having understood once that the Kurds were to be sacrificed for an alliance with the Shah, what could come more naturally to him than a later sacrifice, on a grander scale, for the sake of an alliance with Saudi Arabia?

In other words, all the driveling liberals who regard the current nightmare in Kurdistan as a blot on the fine record of Desert Storm have got it exactly wrong. For Bush, the connection between his two public roles (Desert Stormtrooper and Desert Rat) is a direct one. The Saudis desire a Sunni military dictatorship in Baghdad, which could be five or fifty times as cruel as Saddam so long as it is one and a half times as compliant with Saudi Arabian and American desires. And as partner, paymaster and client, what the Saudis want the Saudis will get.

How elevating it was to see my old friend Daniel Pipes arguing in The Wall Street Journal of April 11 that the United States should not now involve itself too much in inter-Arab and Kurdish disputes. Pipes is a perfect little register of Administration opportunism-only a few months ago he was touting the "Hitler" line and calling for air and ground war. Now he can live with the infliction of a Dresden on the Iraqi people, coupled with the simultaneous protection of the "Hitler" himself.

Bear in mind what Bush and his "people" have done. They have smashed the civilian infrastructure of an entire country, deliberately tearing apart the web of water, electricity and sewage lines that held it together. They have killed at least 100,000 conscripts (neatly sparing the "elite Republican Guard" in order to conform to Saudi wishes) and a vast, uncounted number of noncombatants. They have prepared the way for the next wave of Apocalyptic horsemen in the form of famine and pestilence, described chillingly in reports from the U.N. and the International Red Cross. Their forces continue to occupy territory in Iraq. This is, perhaps, an odd position from which to declare that they have no interest in Iraqi internal affairs.

Consider what has been done to a people with whom the President announced that we had "no quarrel," and then consider what is now being done to another people in whose name, at least in part, the crusade for freedom was launched. Then do as I have been doing. Make a telephone call to the White House, or to your senator and representative in Congress, or to the State Department, and ask what has happened to the proposal that there be a war-crimes trial at the conclusion of hostilities. I guarantee that you will derive some dry amusement from the response, though the amusement soon wears off, to be replaced by thoughts of quite another kind.
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Title Annotation:US treatment of Kurds
Author:Hitchens, Christopher
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:column
Date:May 6, 1991
Previous Article:Secret tribunal.
Next Article:The new face of techno-war.

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