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Appeasers? Takes one to know one, Rummy

Peter Galbraith eviscerates Rummy and his aged, crooked gang in the pages of the Boston Glob:

In his recent justification of his Pentagon stewardship, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reached back to the 1930s, comparing the Bush administration's critics to those who, like US Ambassador to Britain Joseph P. Kennedy, favored appeasing Adolf Hitler. Rumsfeld avoided a more recent comparison: the appeasement of Saddam Hussein by the Reagan and first Bush administrations. The reasons for selectivity are obvious, since so many of Hussein's appeasers in the 1980s were principals in the 2003 Iraq war, including Rumsfeld.

Glory be! You mean Rummy's speech was nothing but an advanced and extremely virulent case of Winger Projection Syndrome? Could it be? Read on:

The Reagan administration was afraid Iraq might actually lose [in its war with Iran.] Reagan chose Rumsfeld as his emissary to Hussein, whom he visited in December 1983 and March 1984. ...

Inconveniently, Iraq had begun to use chemical weapons against Iran in November 1983, the first sustained use of poison gas since a 1925 treaty banning that.

Rumsfeld never mentioned this blatant violation of international law to Hussein, instead focusing on shared hostility toward Iran and an oil pipeline through Jordan. Rumsfeld apparently did mention it to Tariq Aziz, Iraq's foreign minister, but by not raising the issue with the paramount leader he signaled that good relations were more important to the United States than the use of poison gas.

This message was reinforced by US conduct after the Rumsfeld missions.

The Reagan administration offered Hussein financial credits that eventually made Iraq the third-largest recipient of US assistance. It normalized diplomatic relations and, most significantly, began providing Iraq with battlefield intelligence. Iraq used this information to target Iranian troops with chemical weapons. And when Iraq turned its chemical weapons on the Kurds in 1988, killing 5,000 in the town of Halabja, the Reagan administration sought to obscure responsibility by falsely suggesting Iran was also responsible.

On Aug. 25, 1988 -- five days after the Iran-Iraq War ended -- Iraq attacked 48 Kurdish villages more than 100 miles from Iran.

the Reagan administration agreed that Iraq had gassed the Kurds, but strongly opposed sanctions, or even cutting off financial assistance. Colin Powell, then the national security adviser, coordinated the Reagan administration's opposition.

The next year, President George H.W. Bush's administration actually doubled US financial credits for Iraq. A week before Hussein invaded Kuwait, the administration vociferously opposed legislation that would have conditioned US assistance to Iraq on a commitment not to use chemical weapons and to stop the genocide against the Kurds. At the time, Dick Cheney, now vice president, was secretary of defense and a statutory member of the National Security Council that reviewed Iraq policy. By all accounts, he supported the administration's appeasement policy

In 2003, Cheney, Powell, and Rumsfeld all cited Hussein's use of chemical weapons 15 years before as a rationale for war. But at the time Hussein was actually doing the gassing -- including of his own people -- they considered his use of chemical weapons a second-tier issue.

Hussein, having watched the United States gloss over his crimes in the Iran war and at home, concluded he could get away with invading Kuwait.

Hardly Churchillian, would you say? Eh?

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