Rumsfeld's Iraq overture.
Donald H. Rumsfeld went to Baghdad in March 1984 with instructions to deliver a private message about weapons of mass destruction: that the United States' public criticism of Iraq for using chemical weapons would not derail Washington's attempts to forge a better relationship, according to newly declassified documents.
ITEM: The New York Times for December 23, 2003 published a similar story, headlined "Rumsfeld Made Iraq Overture in '84 Despite Chemical Raids." The story stated:
As a special envoy for the Reagan administration in 1984, Donald H. Rumsfeld, now the defense secretary, traveled to Iraq to persuade officials there that the United States was eager to improve ties with President Saddam Hussein despite his use of chemical weapons, newly declassified documents show.... During [the Iran-Iraq] war, the United States secretly provided Iraq with combat planning assistance, even after Mr. Hussein's use of chemical weapons was widely known.
AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Shortly before Christmas 2003, the nation's "prestige press" were all atwitter about supposedly new information concerning Donald Rumsfeld's 1984 trip to Baghdad as a special envoy of Secretary of State George Shultz and President Reagan. More recent subscribers to this magazine are most likely unaware (and veteran readers may have forgotten) that we have covered this issue several times over the years--and have provided considerably more detail and context than the recent stories about the new "revelations."
In a March 30, 1998 article, "Arming Saddam," for instance, senior editor William Norman Grigg reported:
In fact, secret deals had been struck between Iraq and the U.S. foreign policy establishment in 1983. Even as the Soviets were nurturing Iraq's embryonic chemical and biological weapons program, the U.S. State Department was making its own overtures to Saddam. With the help of an obscure U.S. Department of Agriculture program, an equally obscure Atlanta branch of an Italian bank, and the involuntary assistance of the U.S. taxpayers, the foreign policy establishment helped Saddam build his war machine, including his weapons of mass destruction. In 1982, as a prelude to the U.S. "tilt" toward Iraq in its war with Iran, the State Department dropped Iraq from its list of states that sponsor terrorism. As Alan Friedman points out in his expose Spider's Web, this move meant that "Baghdad would now be eligible for American government loan guarantees" and that covert operatives in the U.S. intelligence community "now had political cover to go ahead with their plans to provide U.S. equipment to Iraq, albeit by way of unofficial channels." On December 17, 1983--shortly after the Soviets had agreed to help build Saddam's CBW capacity--presidential envoy Donald Rumsfeld visited Baghdad bearing a handwritten letter from President Reagan to Saddam. "In it Reagan offered to renew diplomatic relations and to expand military and business ties with Baghdad," reports Friedman. Shortly thereafter the U.S. began to extend taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to Iraq. In 1984, for example, the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Eximbank) extended a $500 million loan guarantee to Iraq to build the Aqaba oil pipeline --a project that enjoyed the personal attention of then-Vice President George Bush. But Eximbank subsidies were too visible to serve as a means of underwriting Iraq's war machine. So the foreign policy establishment selected an obscure Agriculture Department program known as the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). "As relations between the United States and Iraq began to thaw in 1983 and 1984, the White House sliced Iraq a giant piece of the CCC pie," explains Peter Mantius in his book Shell Game. "Between 1983 and early 1990, Iraq received $4.98 billion in farm loan guarantees from the CCC." Iraq is almost entirely dependent upon agricultural imports, and its war with Iran exacerbated this dependency. As Judith Miller and Laurie Mylroie point out, "The CCC credits were important to an increasingly cash-starved [Iraq]. Under the program, Baghdad had three years to repay the loans, and if Iraq defaulted, the U.S. government would be obligated to pay off the debt itself"--by extorting the requisite sum from the taxpayers, of course.
In an October 21, 2002 article entitled "Building the Beast of Baghdad," Mr. Grigg again reported on Rumsfeld's Baghdad mission. "The foreign aid floodgates opened for Iraq shortly after Rumsfeld's December 1983 visit to Baghdad," he noted. "In 1984, the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Eximbank) provided a $500 million loan guarantee to Iraq to build the Aqaba oil pipeline, a project that earned the personal attention of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. But even more prodigious amounts of aid flowed from Washington to Baghdad via the Agriculture Department's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC)...."
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|Title Annotation:||Ahead Of The Curve|
|Author:||Jasper, William F.|
|Publication:||The New American|
|Date:||Jan 26, 2004|
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