Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More on Kennedy: he helped bring us Saddam Hussein

When looking at the record of a U.S. President it helps to see the foreign interventions that they undertook during their presidency. For Kennedy, a main one was the overthrow of Qasim in Iraq and the installation of the Ba'ath party as the ruling power, which would lead to Saddam Hussein as President, through the actions of the CIA in partnership with British intelligence. Interesting New York Times article about it Here. A couple of paragraphs:
From 1958 to 1960, despite Kassem's harsh repression, the Eisenhower administration abided him as a counter to Washington's Arab nemesis of the era, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt -- much as Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush would aid Saddam Hussein in the 1980's against the common foe of Iran. By 1961, the Kassem regime had grown more assertive. Seeking new arms rivaling Israel's arsenal, threatening Western oil interests, resuming his country's old quarrel with Kuwait, talking openly of challenging the dominance of America in the Middle East -- all steps Saddam Hussein was to repeat in some form -- Kassem was regarded by Washington as a dangerous leader who must be removed.

In 1963 Britain and Israel backed American intervention in Iraq, while other United States allies -- chiefly France and Germany -- resisted. But without significant opposition within the government, Kennedy, like President Bush today, pressed on. In Cairo, Damascus, Tehran and Baghdad, American agents marshaled opponents of the Iraqi regime. Washington set up a base of operations in Kuwait, intercepting Iraqi communications and radioing orders to rebels. The United States armed Kurdish insurgents. The C.I.A.'s ''Health Alteration Committee,'' as it was tactfully called, sent Kassem a monogrammed, poisoned handkerchief, though the potentially lethal gift either failed to work or never reached its victim.

Then, on Feb. 8, 1963, the conspirators staged a coup in Baghdad. For a time the government held out, but eventually Kassem gave up, and after a swift trial was shot; his body was later shown on Baghdad television. Washington immediately befriended the successor regime. ''Almost certainly a gain for our side,'' Robert Komer, a National Security Council aide, wrote to Kennedy the day of the takeover.

This was under Kennedy, and interestingly enough it was two years after Kennedy had assumed the Presidency, unlike the Bay of Pigs, which happened three months after he had done so. To say that the CIA was somehow a rogue agency that Kennedy didn't control, and so that he didn't have responsibility for this, doesn't jibe with the facts at all. My own thoughts about the Kennedy assassination are elsewhere, but to give a thumbnail sketch I believe it was about an internecine fight between political elites within the U.S. government.

Kennedy, then, approved of the overthrow of a leader considered to be not sufficiently pro-Washington, which lead to a business friendly authoritarian regime being installed.

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