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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I find myself in disagreement with Ahmedinejad (check) Matthews (check) and Greenwald (Hu waaaaht ?!?) and I agree with Pat Buchanan (make it stop please make it stop).

I basically agree with Greenwald (as I ly do) and think he is making a very important point (as he usually does) but he is letting Ahmedinejad and Matthews play a little fast and loose with the facts (as they usually do). In this case, they are stating the conventional wisdom. Buchanan acts as a knee jerk nationalist Eurohater (As always (I'm not like him I swear)) Let's role the tape

For that reason, it was actually refreshing to see the quite rational and fact-based discussion of U.S.-Iranian relations between Chris Matthews and Pat Buchanan on MSNBC Monday night, after Ahmadinejad's speech. The entire discussion is worth reading, but what was most notable about it was their recognition of indisputable facts which undermine the predominant American media narrative of the Evil, Hitlerian Iranian regime hating the angelic, freedom-loving, innocent, victimized United States (why do they hate us??):

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about a couple things. I thought -- you know, I'm not going to give him credit for anything big time, but he did score some interesting points. He said the United States backed Iraq in the war, the bloody horrible war with Iran that killed a lot of Iranians. That‘s going to help him back home, sticking it to us for backing Saddam all those years.

BUCHANAN: Right. . . . Chris, to your point, he said two things. The Western nations invented chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The Americans used them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and they were used on our people in the war against Iraq, where you all supported Iraq against Iran. Now, all those are statements of fact, and they‘re very, very persuasive in the Arab and Islamic world in making his case.

OK Chris Ahmedinejad how did the US back Saddam in the war and for all those years ?
Geostrategists of all orientations agree that, after the fall of the Shah, the US turned to Saddam Hussein to protect our interests from the Islamic Republic of Iran. I claim the claim that the US and Saddam Hussein were allies is valid to (very roughly) about the same extent that the claim that Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda were allies. In contrast, the USSR was closely allied with Iraq until just about the end of the USSR. Also France was much closer to Iraq than the US was as were Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and etc.

First point -- not all administrations compromised with Saddam Hussein. The tilt towards Iraq in the war was a policy of the Reagan administration. St Jimmy is really innocent.

Second, the tilt consisted of meetings (like Iraq al Qaeda meetings) and intelligence sharing (different because the US has really really good technical intelligence but that is technology not policy). Plus there was a loan ostensibly to buy food made by the Atlanta branch of the BNL about which I can not speak as a former BNL fellow (a joke but I did get money for nothing from the BNL just like Saddam and Silvio Berlusconi and I'm sooooo proud).

In particular, in contrast to say France, the US never allowed the sale of weapons to Ba'athist Iraq. They did buy some unarmed helicopters (8 iirc) which they claimed were for civilian search and rescue and then armed. However, US arms flows to Iraq were absolutely dwarfed by French arms sales to Iraq. Less than 1% by value of arms sold to Iraq from 1980 through 1990 came from the USA. Don't ask me, ask SIPRI.

When Buchanan says "you all" he is not speaking Southern slang. He is stressing a fact which is widely forgotten by Europeans. he is exagerating (as always). Switzerland was neutral and so were many other fine countries, but the USA was no where near the top of the list of Saddam supporters.

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