الثلاثاء، يناير 04، 2011

Saddam's message of friendship to President Bush

July 25, 1990:

IT WAS PROGRESS TO HAVE SADDAM ADMIT THAT THE USG HAS A "RESPONSIBILITY" IN THE REGION, AND HAS EVERY RIGHT TO EXPECT AN ANSWER WHEN WE ASK IRAQ'S INTENTIONS. HIS RESPONSE IN EFFECT THAT HE TRIED VARIOUS DIPLOMATIC/CHANNELS BEFORE RESORTING TO UNADULTERATED INTIMIDATION HAS AT LEAST THE VIRTUE OF FRANKNESS. HIS EMPHASIS THAT HE WANTS PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT IS SURELY SINCERE (IRAQIS ARE SICK OF WAR), BUT THE TERMS SOUND DIFFICULT TO ACHIEVE. SADDAM SEEMS TO WANT PLEDGES NOW ON OIL PRICES AND PRODUCTION TO COVER THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS.

GLASPIE

هناك 25 تعليقًا:

Petes يقول...

Doesn't sound like a whole lot we didn't know. Saddam still sounds like a paranoid megalomaniac. No sign of any suggestion from the US that it would turn a blind eye to an invasion of Kuwait, as the chaos mongers have long suggested. Quite the opposite in fact. (And yes, I did read the line where the US says it takes no view on the border question).

Freddie Starr يقول...

Petes ate my hamster.

غير معرف يقول...

"Doesn't sound like a whole lot we didn't know"

Spoken like a true serf.

Me me me! يقول...

^

Spoken like someone with no argument or rebuttal of their own to make, but can't resist opening their pie-hole anyway.

Zeyad يقول...

Doesn't sound like a whole lot we didn't know.

Maybe to you. I remember being a very terrified child that January night when the skies of my hometown were glowing red with explosions. I fully believed we would all be pulled out of rubble the next morning because I grew up watching images of the Iran war and gloomy cold war era documentaries on tv. I remember thinking that moment: now the war has finally come to us and we are going to end up the same as the people in those images.

I remember my little brother woke up crying wrapped in a blanket when we were heading downstairs for shelter. The whole time my parents were trying to assess which part of it would be the safest to sleep under. I don't know about your childhood and adolescence, but I wouldn't want anyone to experience one like mine, and I still had it much better than most people who come from our part of the world.

So it's nice for me to take a peek into the minds of the global decision-makers of the time and to see what was really driving their interests during the last few decades, because, unfortunately, and to my own detriment, I grew up with a different picture in mind.

So it may be non-news in your opinion but it matters a great deal to me and to others in my situation.

Call it my personal discovery journey, if you may.

Enjoy the ride!

Iraqi Mojo يقول...

Very interesting!

"BUT THE USG KNOWS THAT IT WAS IRAQ, NOT THE USG, WHICH DECISIVELY PROTECTED THOSE USG FRIENDS DURING THE WAR--AND THAT IS UNDERSTANDABLE SINCE PUBLIC OPINION IN THE USG, TO SAY NOTHING OF GEOGRAPHY, WOULD HAVE MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE AMERICANS TO ACCEPT 10,000 DEAD IN A SINGLE BATTLE, AS IRAQ DID."

Iraq DID NOT accept 10,000 dead in a single battle. Saddam did.

Iraqi Mojo يقول...
أزال المؤلف هذا التعليق.
Petes يقول...

Zeyad,

I had no intention of suggesting that the conflicts Iraq engaged in were inconsequential (and certainly not for you and your family). Just that this cable from April Glaspie does not bring much to light that we didn't already know (like most of the Wikileaks). Iraq was flat broke after the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam was eying up a new border dispute with Kuwait -- he owed them a lot of money and was angry about the falling price of oil. He claimed that Kuwait was intentionally depressing the price of oil, although if that's true it is strange that they would be wilfully damaging the country that owed them a reported $60b+. Countries flouting OPEC quotas has been a constant for as long as OPEC has existed, especially when global prices are depressed as they were in the late 80's due to recession. I tend to believe it was a matter of convenience for Saddam to take umbrage with Kuwait, although I don't know that for sure. It would certainly be true to form for him -- his comments to Glaspie about the Shatt-al-Arab reflect that fact that he spoke out of both sides of his mouth about Iran-Iraq border disputes, taking different positions in 1974, 1975, 1980 and again in 1990. We know also that the US was conflicted between, on the one hand, having minimally supported Iraq against Iran (or at least not wanting Iraq to lose), and viewing Saddam as a regional threat.

To be honest, I'd be more keen to hear what Iraqis (i.e. you, or older members of your family -- I know you were only a kid) generally thought about the whole situation througout the eighties, and into the nineties. I was old enough to take an interest in the news back then, although admittedly most of what we got was things affecting Western interests -- the tanker war in the late eighties and incidents like the USS Vincennes.

Iraqi Mojo يقول...

If you haven't seen Hidden Wars of Desert Storm, you should watch it to get an idea of the relationship between Saddam and the US in the 80s.

Watch April Glaspie in part 2 (at 2:23) say 6 days before Saddam invaded Kuwait: "there are no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait." Look at her face when she says it.

Petes يقول...

Had a look, Mojo. A grainy five second clip doesn't tell me much. What does leave me cold is the two Jordanian commentators suggesting that a trap was set for Saddam. What a load of nonsense.

The irony of the situation is that it was Saddam's invasion of Iran that set the scene for him getting scuppered by oil prices. The Iranian revolution sparked the so-called second oil crisis in 1979. After Saddam's invasion, output from Iran practically ceased and was severely curtailed in Iraq. Prices exploded as a result. Recession in the West followed, and thereafter a multi-year decline in the price of oil -- a bit like we've seen from 2007 to 2009.

In the face of falling prices, OPEC control of prices fell apart, and multiple countries -- including Kuwait and Venezuela ignored quotas. Kuwait had the least reason to do it, since it made almost as much from its sovereign wealth investment as from oil. However, it had just opened a new refinery in February 1989, bringing its capacity for refined product to 700 kbpd. Bear in mind that Kuwait had an output of 3 mbpd as far back as 1973, and OPEC in 1989 was trying to impose a quota for crude and refined product of 1.1 mbpd which Kuwait refused.

Meanwhile North American and North Sea production was expanding, stemming from new discoveries in the North Sea and Mexico, and the elimination of price controls in the USA. (Price controls after the 1970s oil crises had stifled exploration and were a disaster for oil availability).

So Saddam's problem was that his timing was bad -- he needed money and oil prices were in the basement. In 1986/87 alone they had fallen from nearly $30 to just above $10, and apart from the brief period of the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait they stayed that way for a dozen more years, bottoming out at under $10 in the late nineties after the Asian crisis.

So I don't read anything into the invasion of Kuwait other than that is was a convenient whipping boy for Saddam, and that he was an extremely nasty piece of work who f*cked Iraq up through his own personal hubris, and continued to do so to the detriment of the long-suffering Iraqi people until he finally got his just deserts.

Marcus يقول...

"thereafter a multi-year decline in the price of oil -- a bit like we've seen from 2007 to 2009."

What are you talking about Pete? The by far highest avreage price in history was in 2008 at over $90 per barrel. Then the worst recession in decades took hold and prices plummeted. Only to rise again and now, 2 years later, be around the level of the -08 avreage again, even though the recovery from recession is by no means solid.

@90 oil in the shaky beginning of a recovery and with 9% (on record, the rteal figure looks way worse) unemployment in the worlds greatest economy? This must give the avreage voodoo economist who thinks economics is a "science" in its own right and not subject to chenges in our finite environment real headahces. "But, but, but... it's not SUPPOSED to be costly now. My economic model tells me there should be a "multi-year decline in the price of oil"".

You COULD argue it's not so much a demand driven prise raise but inflation caused by all that funny money they're printing at so many central banks. I'm more pessimistic and believe we might have reached Hubbards peak and are now at the apex where we are simply not able to increase production output to fuel the next economic leap. I also think that there are but a few possibilities to buy time and that Iraq (and Iran) and the huge reserves there could move the definite peak a decade or a few down the line. But the cheap oil of the past is just that, in the past.

Petes يقول...

Marcus -- I meant "prices exploded and then declined" from 2007 - 2009. I agree with you it's odd the decline has been reversed, which could be (as you say) dollar deflation, or demand from China and India et al, or just plain ole' pumping from specuvestors whose dollars have nowhere better to go. Over at the Oil Drum they are in no doubt that the 2008 run-up in oil prices caused the recession, but I think the run-up in out-of-control debt around the world did that very nicely, thank you.

I think you also only have to look at the reactions of stock markets and oil prices to quantitative easing to see that the current oil price is hugely supported by Obama's funny money. When I see oil not moving in lock step with equities I'll be more convinced the current price has to do with fundamentals of supply and demand. Nevertheless, I still agree with you that cheap oil is over, and that Iraq -- if it can ever get its product out of the ground -- is key.

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

FURTHER, SADDAM, HIMSELF BEGINNING TO HAVE AN
INKLING OF HOW MUCH HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND ABOUT
THE U.S.,


Indeed. But to be perfectly fair, in the case of a democracy, the sands are always shifting with the political winds. So, what we have done in the past is not necessarily a sign of what we would do in the present, or in the future.

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

[Zeyad] So it's nice for me to take a peek into the minds of the global decision-makers of the time and to see what was really driving their interests during the last few decades, because, unfortunately, and to my own detriment, I grew up with a different picture in mind.

Perfectly understandable.

Zeyad يقول...

I remember the 1988-1990 period when imported US products suddenly started appearing in Baghdad. The American booth at Baghdad's International Fair 89 was packed with visitors you almost couldnt' see anything. We went there on a school day trip, and being a nerdy kid, I remember marveling at the huge colorful NASA posters that were on the walls while all my friends were crowding to punch some padded instrument that measured how strong your punch was.

There was a prevailing sense on the Iraqi street at the time that peace and prosperity might now be actually possible because many Iraqis had almost given up on an end to the Iraqi-Iran war.

Then, the morning of Aug 2, I recall my cousin knocking our kitchen door and shouting to me, "We went to war with Kuwait," and I was thinking here we go again. There was an older relative, an insider (who was among the first Ba‘athists of the 1963 coup and had since been kicked out by the Tikritis), saying during lunch, "This is all theater and Saddam is the lead actor. Just wait and see the end result." Of course, other uncles (some of whom were Iraqi army veterans) laughed since they had always swallowed Saddam's line, hook and sinker or at least believed there was a credible threat to Iraq from the east.

Personally, I tend toward the view that Saddam was merely a useful idiot who served certain interests and was then hung to dry when he became too much of a liability. There is evidence that he was groomed since the 1960s when he was the Ba‘ath's hitman, according to said relative. Their atrocities against Iraqi communists and their persecution of both leftist and religious parties at the time are well documented. There are many such delicious details in Hanna Batatu's book "The old social classes and revolutionary movements in Iraq" all gleaned from secret Iraqi police and foreign intelligence documents over the last century.

If you read between the lines of Saddam's meeting with Glaspie, he's actually saying, "I'm your 'boy' in the region. I worked for you guys and your allies for years. Gimme my compensation!" Of course, he never abandoned his pathological hitman personality even when he was leading the most promsing state in the region. Instead he tried to use the state and its resources to primarily glorify his own personal image (rewriting history) and, more importantly, to reap unimaginable financial rewards (which is by the way the hidden goal behind every political movement in Iraq, religious or secular).

It would be interesting to watch what will become of today's useful idiots in Iraq and elsewhere.

Imo, a mere assertion that the US would stand to its military obligations to its allies (in response to Saddam's overt military intimidation in the Gulf area) would have been far more unambiguous than 'we have no views on your inter-Arab disputes.' Maybe that wasn't up to Glaspie, but this cable was sent to DC a whole week before the invasion. I guess we should wait and see if any other cables between 25 july and August 2 will be released.

Zeyad يقول...

I remember the 1988-1990 period when imported US products suddenly started appearing in Baghdad. The American booth at Baghdad's International Fair 89 was packed with visitors you almost couldnt' see anything. We went there on a school day trip, and being a nerdy kid, I remember marveling at the huge colorful NASA posters that were on the walls while all my friends were crowding to punch some padded instrument that measured how strong your punch was.

There was a prevailing sense on the Iraqi street at the time that peace and prosperity might now be actually possible because many Iraqis had almost given up on an end to the Iraqi-Iran war.

Then, the morning of Aug 2, I recall my cousin knocking our kitchen door and shouting to me, "We went to war with Kuwait," and I was thinking here we go again. There was an older relative, an insider (who was among the first Ba‘athists of the 1963 coup and had since been kicked out by the Tikritis), saying during lunch, "This is all theater and Saddam is the lead actor. Just wait and see the end result." Of course, other uncles (some of whom were Iraqi army veterans) laughed since they had always swallowed Saddam's line, hook and sinker or at least believed there was a credible threat to Iraq from the east.

Personally, I tend toward the view that Saddam was merely a useful idiot who served certain interests and was then hung to dry when he became too much of a liability. There is evidence that he was groomed since the 1960s when he was the Ba‘ath's hitman, according to said relative. Their atrocities against Iraqi communists and their persecution of both leftist and religious parties at the time are well documented. There are many such delicious details in Hanna Batatu's book "The old social classes and revolutionary movements in Iraq" all gleaned from secret Iraqi police and foreign intelligence documents over the last century.

If you read between the lines of Saddam's meeting with Glaspie, he's actually saying, "I'm your 'boy' in the region. I worked for you guys and your allies for years. Gimme my compensation!" Of course, he never abandoned his pathological hitman personality even when he was leading the most promsing state in the region. Instead he tried to use the state and its resources to primarily glorify his own personal image (rewriting history) and, more importantly, to reap unimaginable financial rewards (which is by the way the hidden goal behind every political movement in Iraq, religious or secular).

It would be interesting to watch what will become of today's useful idiots in Iraq and elsewhere.

Imo, a mere assertion that the US would stand to its military obligations to its allies (in response to Saddam's overt military intimidation in the Gulf area) would have been far more unambiguous than 'we have no views on your inter-Arab disputes.' Maybe that wasn't up to Glaspie, but this cable was sent to DC a whole week before the invasion. I guess we should wait and see if any other cables between 25 july and August 2 will be released.

Petes يقول...

Zeyad, I think you're right about the sub-text of Saddam's comments to Glaspie. However, I think he was way overestimating any American sense of indebtedness to him for keeping the mad Iranian mullahs at bay. Did he not hear Kissinger's statement about wishing both Iran and Iraq could lose? More to the point, did he not notice that the biggest US activity in the Iran-Iraq war was protection of Kuwaiti oil tankers? He can't have thought the US wouldn't bat an eyelid while he ravaged another important oil producer and moved to the very border of the grandaddy of them all, Saudi Arabia. Also, Saddam certainly did not see eye to eye with the US over Israel-Palestine relations, and disliked their dealings with Egypt. Although the US had taken Iraq off the "state sponsors of terrorism" list in order to boost support against Iran, Saddam couldn't have imagined he was their golden haired boy. In any case, he was left in no doubt, starting with US statements within hours of the invasion of Kuwait and continuing with multiple UN resolutions demanding he withdraw. But, all that said, Saddam clearly did feel that he was owed a debt by the Kuwaitis and Saudis for fending off Iran, and that he shouldn't have to repay the billions he borrowed off both of them. I guess his hubris knew no bounds (which is not all that strange for a politician).

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

Personally, I tend toward the view that Saddam was merely a useful idiot who served certain interests and was then hung to dry when he became too much of a liability.

Probably a common view in the Middle East. I would say that no one is immune to the kind of thinking that results in "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" kind of behavior.

I remember marveling at the huge colorful NASA posters...

Nerdy? No, thoughtful. You realized there was more out there in the wide world than what could be found in your immediate vicinity. :) Smart.

Bruno يقول...

[zeyad] "Imo, a mere assertion that the US would stand to its military obligations to its allies (in response to Saddam's overt military intimidation in the Gulf area) would have been far more unambiguous than 'we have no views on your inter-Arab disputes.'"

Quite right. That's a point I have made in the past. "no views" means you are disinterested in the consequences of an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which was NOT the case.

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

HIS EMPHASIS THAT HE WANTS PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT IS SURELY SINCERE

Foolish thinking. But perhaps that was what that "we have no views on your inter-Arab disputes" was all about. If Saddam had stood up and said I am going to invade Kuwait if I don't get what I want, then perhaps an assertion that the US would stand to its military obligations would have been the response.

Ecclesiastes يقول...

That Saddam - a soldier - would see economic competition as 'warfare' was the rock that started the avalanche. Whether he as sick of war or not, he didn't know any other way BUT war. "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

Too bad he didn't get some oil company ( Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, ... ) to build a refinery instead.

Ordo Ines de Lupus يقول...

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غير معرف يقول...

There is evidence that he was groomed since the 1960s when he was the Ba‘ath's hitman, according to said relative.

This is surprising. Such people tend to be kept around so long as they remain useful, but eventually the controller decides that they know where too many bodies are buried, and they are disposed of.

It sounds like Saddam decided to seize power before his controller realized how dangerous he was.

Their atrocities against Iraqi communists and their persecution of both leftist and religious parties at the time are well documented.

This is also surprising. The impression we had over here was that Saddam was quite friendly to the old Soviet Union, as indicated by all the T-72s and AK-47s. The treatment of Iraqi communists wasn't considered an indication of anything, as communist-vs-communist violence is not new.

غير معرف يقول...

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