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Where did those chemical and biological weapons come from?
March 26, 2003 3:13 PM   Subscribe

Where did those chemical and biological weapons come from?
”According to the December declaration, treated with much derision from the Bush administration, U.S. and Western companies played a key role in building Hussein's war machine. The 1,200-page document contains a list of Western corporations and countries -- as well as individuals -- that exported chemical and biological materials to Iraq in the past two decades.”

I’ve always been surprised that this type of report doesn’t get more attention. During the UN hearings I half expected the Administration to level with the world and simply say: ”We know they have the stuff because we sold it to them.”
posted by peebo (32 comments total)

 
So when are the loud-mouth pro-war patriots going to protest in front of all these companies? Oh thats right: never.
posted by skallas at 3:19 PM on March 26, 2003


I recall that at one point during the Iran-Iraq war, we are arming both sides. That would be the Reagan administration. Of course it was all in the name of fighting the cold war, which the neocons like to credit saint ronnie with "winning". We are still paying the price for that war while right wing shit-streaks funnel truckloads of cash to cronies like Halliburton.
posted by 2sheets at 3:34 PM on March 26, 2003


I was disappointed that they didn't share the list. Only a few select companies were named.

Dead on there skallas
posted by Windopaene at 3:39 PM on March 26, 2003


From rec.humor.funny:

Q: "Mr. President, are you positive that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction?"

A: "Yes. We kept the receipts."

Author unknown.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 3:41 PM on March 26, 2003


Call me jaded, okay, terribly jaded, but why does this matter now?

No despot, no monarchy, no medieval insurgency that can be exploited, no regime of terror seems to be off-limits to the sale of arms for profit.

What possible attention should this news get in a society that worships "free-trade"? More weapons, more war, more CNN, more GI Joe easter baskets, more arms sales to the frightened. Sounds like win-win for the US. (I'm not being sarcastic, I'm very serious...and very very sad. Presented in this post is a moral argument based on peace. If the dominant morality of the West is Ferengi, what do these facts matter? They don't.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:41 PM on March 26, 2003


"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism,
because it is a merger of State and corporate power."
-Benito Mussolini

Also: What skallas said.
posted by spazzm at 3:47 PM on March 26, 2003


That would be the Reagan administration

A member posted a picture of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam when he worked in the Reagan Administration, anyone remember?( was a recent thread right before the war started, think this site)

Is this similar to what Russia and France did recently.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:03 PM on March 26, 2003


Maybe I was too subtle. I'm sorry skallas, but you're looking at things all wrong. Why would the pro-war patriots boycott the best excuse we have to kick many asses in the future? I swear, even the female war-bloggers have had a stiffy for the last week. Why would they want to take away the possibility of sweet sweet explosive Fox-news lovin' war show in the future? Its the best reality TV goin' all compliments of Honeywell, Dupont, Ronald Reagan and his happy disco spook factory, GHW Bush, and G Dub the second coming. Those who are pro-war won't give one damn that America sponsors terrorism. They'll just invest in a growing concern...
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:08 PM on March 26, 2003


Author unknown.

No, just spinning in his grave.
posted by riviera at 4:26 PM on March 26, 2003


Reagan=Bush=Cheyney=W Bush.

The CIA engineered the coup that placed Saddam in his position and supported his rule because they wanted him to attack Iran.

Not only that, but the US (Reagan/Bush Sr./Cheyney) wanted it kept quiet that the Saudis gave Saddam $7billion to fund his nuclear program, because they thought he would only ever use it against the Iranians.

Cheyney was over meeting and Greeting Saddam to sell him the kit for developing anthrax weaponry.

The US (and UK and other countries, but especially the US) is up to it's elbows in Saddam's despicable regime. They put him there, loved him, nurtured him, and now they're denouncing him for everything they helped him become.

Maybe they want an oil source that doesn't come from the Saudis so they can at last go after the people (the Saudis) who funded/ are funding Osama?

What's happening with Saddam, and al Qaeda, for that matter (trained by the CIA,) is what they call blowback: when people they train and support to become ruthless effective killing machines turn on their creators. A Frankenstein-kind-of story.
posted by Blue Stone at 4:40 PM on March 26, 2003


It doesn't matter how Iraq obtained said weapons, at this point: the issue is removing them & Saddam. The fact that "we" sold them to him decades ago does NOT negate our responsibility now.
posted by davidmsc at 4:50 PM on March 26, 2003


A member posted a picture of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam when he worked in the Reagan Administration, anyone remember?

This pic?. I didn't post it here, but I did send it to filipele a few months ago. Obviously it's a dodgy picture and it don't mean much on it's own, but interesting all the same.

Call me jaded, okay, terribly jaded, but why does this matter now?

It matters to me because there is a hypocracy here by those who effectively rule the world. If this can happen, what will happen in the future?
posted by peteash10 at 4:52 PM on March 26, 2003


>The fact that "we" sold them to him decades ago does NOT negate our responsibility now.

No, but its at best a stop-gap fix. There would be a lot more people on the pro-war side if a couple things changed:

1. That diplomacy was actually used.

2. That oil and regional control weren't issues.

3. That there was REAL foreign policy reform and world-wide attempts at disarmament.

4. Huge sanctions were put on the arms industry.

Considering nothing really has changed since the Reagan years, will Jenna Bush in 2012 have to attack Turkey, Israel or some other former ally in the name of peace?

One of the reasons why WWII was one of the few conflicts America wasn't completely divided on was partly because it was sold as the last war. This war very much comes off as the first of a series of many more mistakes.

You're delusional if you think this war changes anything but a small political dynamic in the middle east. The unilateralism, cronism, dirty arms deal, etc are still here and no amount of "Saddam is evil" chants will change that.
posted by skallas at 5:06 PM on March 26, 2003


Top 10 myths about the war on Iraq

I don't know how accurate the page is, but here's #4:

4-The United States armed Saddam. This one grew over time, but when Iraq was on it's weapons spending spree from 1972 (when its oil revenue quadrupled) to 1990, the purchases were quite public and listed over $40 billion worth of arms sales. Russia was the largest supplier, with $25 billion. The US was the smallest, with $200,000. A similar myth, that the U.S. provided Iraq with chemical and biological weapons is equally off base. Iraq requested Anthrax samples from the US government, as do nations the world over, for the purpose of developing animal and human vaccines for local versions of Anthrax. Nerve gas doesn't require technical help, it's a variant of common insecticides. European nations sold Iraq the equipment to make poison gas.


posted by gyc at 5:30 PM on March 26, 2003


And Bill Hicks is more relevent than ever.

Not to derail this conversation, but the "We have the receipts" joke AFAIK started with Bill Hicks, an amazing standup comedian and social critic who died in 1994. He has long fantastic material on the Gulf War that I've been playing over and over lately.

"They went from being the Elite Republican Guard to the Republican Guard to the Republicans made this sh*t up about there being guards out there."

I heard an Iraqi nuclear scientist who defected in 1998 make this same "we have the receipts" joke on NPR last week. He went on to detail the easy steps he went through to get the nuclear information they have in Iraq (eg. their plans came from the US's patents of nukes in the 1940's), and I just laughed, remembering Bill Hicks.
posted by billpena at 5:37 PM on March 26, 2003


gyc, the US sells germs, chemicals, and weapons under a ridiculous "dual-use" system. This means they can wash their hands of any wrong doing by claming to selling only for defense or for vaccinations/research.

Nice piece on US sales of "dual-use" items here.

We sold Botulism? Nawww, we sold Botox!
posted by skallas at 5:41 PM on March 26, 2003


Assuming Iraq did obtain their "chemical weapon seeds" from the US government at some point, and assuming these reports are black-and-white, with no extenuating circumstances ... so what?

Is this some sort of "Sins of the Father" rationalization? The current administration is guilty of the excesses, misjudgment or illegal activities of individuals, departments, or the entirety of previous administrations? And furthermore, all Americans should therefor have to pay the price by living under the specter of chemical or biological attack by terrorist organizations equipped by hostile and mercenary regimes?

I beg to differ.
posted by KiloHeavy at 5:52 PM on March 26, 2003


Arms Sales to Iraq, 1973-1991

United States $5,000,000
Britain $330,000,000
Germany $995,000,000
China $5,500,000,000
France $9,240,000,000
Soviet Union $31,800,000,000

From an expert on Iraqi arms, Anthony Cordesman.
Paper with the data (page 22)
posted by HTuttle at 6:02 PM on March 26, 2003


The current administration is guilty of the excesses, misjudgment or illegal activities of individuals, departments, or the entirety of previous administrations?

Uhhmm, have you been paying attention? The current administration (regime we might call it) IS almost in entirety the legacy of former administrations.

And furthermore, all Americans should therefor have to pay the price by living under the specter of chemical or biological attack by terrorist organizations equipped by hostile and mercenary regimes?

YES! Absolutely, unequivocally, yes. We sell the weapons that then get sold to those who turn turn them against us. Should we be afraid of that policy? That's kind of a duh-now yes response, isn't it?
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:04 PM on March 26, 2003


Americans should therefor have to pay the price by living under the specter of chemical or biological attack by terrorist organizations equipped by hostile and mercenary regimes?

They don't need to be equipped by hostile regimes, everything they need is here already.
posted by homunculus at 6:18 PM on March 26, 2003


YES! Absolutely, unequivocally, yes. We sell the weapons that then get sold to those who turn turn them against us. Should we be afraid of that policy? That's kind of a duh-now yes response, isn't it?

I wasn't talking about the policy, I was talking about people dying as a result of alleged US supply of chemical weapon precursor materiel to Iraq. You're failing to address that point with your above response.

For the record, I'm not saying I agree with the statement that the US is responsible for "seeding" Iraq's chemical weapons program.
posted by KiloHeavy at 6:24 PM on March 26, 2003


So let me get this straight. In this paper from 1998, the following figures apply as to who sold how much to Iraq.

$5 Million from the US.

$330 Million from Britain

$995 Million from Germany

$5.5 Billion from China

$9.24 Billion from France

$31.8 Billion from Russia

Shit. No wonder France was saying they'd veto any resolution, and why Russia was kind of hemming and hawing about the same. Bet a lot of that still hasn't been paid for - and both countries are in need of money. Saddam gets deposed (if he's not deceased at the present time, and it wouldn't break my heart if he were) and they don't get zip. He stays in power, they MIGHT get paid.

Wonder how much a veto goes for at the UN these days?

$5 million from the US for WMD. Obviously, we were bidding too high, didn't get the BIG money like France, China, and Russia.

You know - if this is supposedly proof that the US is at fault for Saddam's wmd, I'd postulate that...

Britain is 66 times more culpable than the US
Germany 199 times
China 1100 times
France 1848
and Russia 6360 times more culpable.

Just as a thought...

JB
posted by JB71 at 6:59 PM on March 26, 2003


I wasn't talking about the policy, I was talking about people dying as a result of alleged US supply of chemical weapon precursor materiel to Iraq. You're failing to address that point with your above response.

Come come, now. That's just obfuscation and waffling. Your "point" was quite clear, for a question. You asked:

Is this some sort of "Sins of the Father" rationalization? The current administration is guilty of the excesses, misjudgment or illegal activities of individuals, departments, or the entirety of previous administrations? And furthermore, all Americans should therefor have to pay the price by living under the specter of chemical or biological attack by terrorist organizations equipped by hostile and mercenary regimes?

And the question was answered: If the populace of the US supports and endorses the administrations and companies that provide potential terrorists with the weapons that may be turned against us, and then vilify those potential terrorists to the point that they WANT to turn those weapons against us, then YES we should live in terror of our own lack of vision. Now, how exactly, did I not address your point?

and Russia 6360 times more culpable

I agree. Lets attack Russia instead of Iraq. They're the real threat! (*shakes head in disbelief at the lengths some will go to rationalize away their own complacent involvement in what might be their doom*)
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:20 PM on March 26, 2003


member posted a picture of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam when he worked in the Reagan Administration, anyone remember?( was a recent thread right before the war started, think this site)

thomcat

Rumsfeld pic and 1983 Iraq visit is here
posted by matteo at 7:40 PM on March 26, 2003


Wulfgar:

You may see it as rationalizing away our involvement - but I see it as something else. Perhaps it's my fault, not being able to see the candle flame of the $5 million in US arms sales compared to the megawattage of the Chinese, French and Russian arms sales.

The US sold $5 million worth of stuff. What stuff? How dangerous was it? If a T-55 or T-72 with spares costs, say, $500,000 - then we provided them with the equivalent of 10 tanks.

France paid for 18,480 tanks, at that rate. Probably there was a quantity discount.

Let's try it again.

-----$5,000,000 from the US.

$9,240,000,000 from France.

Follow the money. Where does it lead? Not toward the US, I'd say.

Yet the US is seen as being responsible.

(Shrug) Okay. We're responsible. Now we're trying to clean up the mess you insist we're responsible for. But you're saying you don't want the mess cleaned up, or at the very least you don't want the US to do it without the UN approval that France made VERY clear we're never going to get. We spent twelve years dancing with diplomacy, only to get a final "no" from them.

And it's easy to see why. Like I said - follow the money.

JB
posted by JB71 at 7:43 PM on March 26, 2003


By the way, this story broke in January, when a group of Gulf War vets sued a number of these companies for contributing to their Gulf War Syndrome.

(disclaimer: this isn't a self-link, but I did work on the television version of this report.)
posted by Vidiot at 7:57 PM on March 26, 2003


JB, you still appear to miss the point. If you look to the specific instance of Iraq Ataq, then I can and will agree that there are countries more responsible for Saddam having WMD's (which must have a Romulan cloaking device around them), and more standard military issue weapons. However:

1) As an American, I am not responsable for the actions of the rulers of Iraq, Russia, France, or Uzbekistan. I am responsable for the actions of the leaders of the USofA. If my leaders, corporate or presidential, are responsable for supplying, fostering, or protecting those who plan terror attacks against my country, then it is my responsability to recognize my role in that, and speak against it.

2) Iraq is the specific, and in many respects the exception. We spend how much on Saudi Arabia? We sell how much to Turkey, Egypt, the Philipines, and Iran? These countries then sponsor terrorism, and we bear the brunt of the anger. What will be our payout to Pakistan (a known harbor for terrorists)? The policy is flawed. Being an arms merchant to the world, and then making yourself the target of the world's anger is flawed, and stupid. (Thank you King George, for putting a bullseye on my back.)

3) But you're saying you don't want the mess cleaned up, or at the very least you don't want the US to do it without the UN approval that France made VERY clear we're never going to get. We spent twelve years dancing with diplomacy, only to get a final "no" from them.

You'd be well advised not to put words in my mouth (or from my fingers, if you will). I said no such thing. That 12 years of empowering Saddam through foolishly applied sanctions could have been better spent applying economic pressure and arming his populace under open trade agreements. Instead, we stuck to our high ground, impoverished his people making them more plyable, and allowed him to sell oil for the purchase of weapons from France. And now we blame France. How stupid and short sighted is that? We fucked up, and concentrated Iraqi wealth into the despot's hands. Foolish, and stupid.

4) There is no fourth point.

5) Follow the money, and you're likely to see it flow into Halliburton, HP, Honeywell, Dupont, and Exxon/Mobil. That was the point of this post. Apologizing for the past mistakes of Reagan, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et.al. will not erase that path that we must follow...right to the money.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:16 PM on March 26, 2003


"For the record, I'm not saying I agree with the statement that the US is responsible for "seeding" Iraq's chemical weapons program."

You don't agree? This is a matter of public record.
It's not just some story from the Village Voice. This administration has acknowledged that those substances were sold to Iraq under a "dual use" provision, as pointed out earlier.
Are you intentionally pulling the wool over your own eyes?
posted by 2sheets at 8:28 PM on March 26, 2003


Of course it was all in the name of fighting the cold war, which the neocons like to credit saint ronnie with "winning".

Did somebody say winning?
posted by y2karl at 6:42 AM on March 27, 2003


JB71, by your logic, since the French were responsible for getting the whole mess in the far East going, the US has no responsibility for the Vietnam war. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. Culpability on the part of others does not negate one's own culpability.
posted by soyjoy at 8:02 AM on March 27, 2003


It doesn't matter how Iraq obtained said weapons, at this point: the issue is removing them & Saddam.

Yeah, whenever I'm burgled, I hire the burglar to replace the locks and repair the windows. And clean the carpet.
posted by riviera at 8:50 AM on March 27, 2003


So let me get this straight. In this paper from 1998, the following figures apply as to who sold how much to Iraq.

$5 Million from the US.
$330 Million from Britain
$995 Million from Germany
$5.5 Billion from China
$9.24 Billion from France
$31.8 Billion from Russia


So the tin foil hat types could make the case that the reason the US is taking it to Saddam is that he didn't pay them off enough. I wonder how much the new regime will purchase from the US? Afterall they'll need either a big dump of weapons or a constant US presence to counter a Iran/Syria/Jordan/"evil regime of the week" take over.
posted by Mitheral at 12:22 PM on March 27, 2003


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