We kept the receipts

“I have done that,” says memory. “I cannot have done that,” says pride, and remains inexorable. Eventually-memory yields.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Perhaps if you were to update this saying for today’s pacier times, you’d remove the word ‘eventually’. John Quiggin reminds us of who appeased Saddam.

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Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
15 years ago

Well, the shifting sands of geopolitics make for strange and transient bedfellows. The all-important context missing from your post (and that of Prof Q) is the Iran-Iraq War in which the US (policy initiated in the dying days of the Carter Administration) supported Iraq as a counter to a resurgent, Iranian theocracy perceived to be bent on the export of Islamic fundamentalism. Saddam was seen as a secular pragmatist with whom the West might do business.

It should be remembered that the last 18 months of Carter’s presidency was consumed in the Teheran embassy hostage crisis following the Iranian revolution and the threat of a hugely destabilised middle east. Iraq was seen as a counter-balance in that context by both Carter and Reagan.

I don’t want to appear like a Realpolitik brutalist, but it’s a bit like saying that the US should be held accountable for the Tienanmen Massacre because they initiated formal diplomatic and trade relationships with Beijing.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
15 years ago

“It’s a bit like saying that the US should be held accountable for the Tienanmen Massacre because they initiated formal diplomatic and trade relationships with Beijing.” Not from my reading of the link. I think the issue is what the US did after the slaughter, not before.

I know that the US were obsessively haunted by the hostage crisis and that they had, and still do have, an implacable hatred of Iran. Hardly a reason for not making their support conditional on certain basic standards.

The policy of uncritical support for Saddam was based on the idea of active support for the lesser of two evils. The policy failed in the end. Still no mea culpa let alone lessons learned.