File this one under, “What If.”
We have a very good source who tells us that the U.S. and the major European and Arab powers had a plan to exile Saddam Hussein to Saudi Arabia before the Iraq war began in March 2003. Apparently, Saddam was on board with the plan. But the U.S. and other major powers had to show complete solidarity lest Saddam would sense disunity and misread it as a lack of will to take him out and thus back out of the deal.
Recall, Hussein had a history of miscalculating and misreading the United States. In a meeting with the U.S. ambassador in July 1990 , Saddam took the conversation as tacit approval for his invasion of Kuwait eight days later.
July 25, 1990 – Presidential Palace – Baghdad
U.S. Ambassador Glaspie – I have direct instructions from President Bush to improve our relations with Iraq. We have considerable sympathy for your quest for higher oil prices, the immediate cause of your confrontation with Kuwait. (pause) As you know, I lived here for years and admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country. We know you need funds. We understand that, and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. (pause) We can see that you have deployed massive numbers of troops in the south. Normally that would be none of our business, but when this happens in the context of your threat s against Kuwait, then it would be reasonable for us to be concerned. For this reason, I have received an instruction to ask you, in the spirit of friendship – not confrontation – regarding your intentions: Why are your troops massed so very close to Kuwait’s borders?
– July 25, Eight days before the August 2, 1990 Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait
A big mistake and that was even before Twitter.
The Need To Show Political Unity
A recent article in Foreign Policy magazine put the need for unity among the big powers before the second Iraq war more eloquently,
Political unity among western democracies, can have an impact at least as great as the application of raw power on real-world outcomes. It is worth paying a high cost up front to get those perceptions right, because the consequences down the road can be severe.
To the horror of this world leader, he awoke one morning to see France’s President, Jacques Chirac, on television announcing France would not support the war effort and vote against the second United Nations resolution. Saddam sensed weakness that there would be no invasion and, as expected, backed out of the deal. Once again, miscalculating and misreading the intentions of another Bush Administration in the United States.
Chirac’s Relationship With Saddam
Jacques Chirac always had a suspect relationship with Saddam Hussein. Bush #43 called him Mr. Arab.
Statfor wrote in 2003,
Chirac and Hussein formed what Chirac called a close personal relationship. As the New York Times put it in a 1986 report about Chirac’s attempt to return to the premiership, the French official “has said many times that he is a personal friend of Saddam Hussein of Iraq.” In 1987, the Manchester Guardian Weekly quoted Chirac as saying that he was “truly fascinated by Saddam Hussein since 1974.” Whatever personal chemistry there might have been between the two leaders obviously remained in place a decade later, and clearly was not simply linked to the deals of 1974-75.
Politicians and businessmen move on; they don’t linger the way Chirac did. Partly because of the breadth of the relationship Chirac and Hussein had created in a relatively short period of time and the obvious warmth of their personal ties, there was intense speculation about the less visible aspects of the relationship. For example, one unsubstantiated rumor that still can be heard in places like Beirut was that Hussein helped to finance Chirac’s run for mayor of Paris in 1977, after he lost the French premiership.
Another, equally unsubstantiated rumor was that Hussein had skimmed funds from the huge amounts of money that were being moved around, and that he did so with Chirac’s full knowledge. There are endless rumors, all unproven and perhaps all scurrilous, about the relationship.
Some of these might have been moved by malice, but they also are powered by the unfathomability of the relationship and by Chirac’s willingness to publicly affirm it. It reached the point that Iranians referred to Chirac as “Shah-Iraq” and Israelis spoke of the Osirak reactor as “O-Chirac.”
Indeed, as recently as last week, a STRATFOR source in Lebanon reasserted these claims as if they were incontestable. Innuendo has become reality. Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who held office at the time of the negotiations with Iraq, said in 1984 that the deal “came out of an agreement that was not negotiated in Paris and therefore did not originate with the president of the republic.” – Strafor, Feb 2003
Maybe Mr. Chirac also miscalculated and misread President Bush #43.
Middle East Mess Solely the Bush Administration’s Fault
Nevertheless, we are not trying to dismiss or place the blame of the Iraq war and the subsequent destabilization of the Middle East and the mess it made on Jacques Chirac or France, for that matter. The blame lies solely, and unequivocally, on the Cheney wing of the Bush Administration, in our opinion.
We are very confident in our source and just thought we would throw it out there and maybe some young investigative reporter will pick it up and run with it.
We do like France’s new President. The new Leader of the Free World, in our opinion.
An Aside: Wag The Dog in the Middle East?
Interesting the U.S. ambassador mentioned the price of oil in her 1990 meeting with Saddam,
We have considerable sympathy for your quest for higher oil prices
– Ambassador Glaspie
After the invasion of Kuwait, the average monthly price of oil rose from $17 per barrel in July 1990 to $36 per barrel in October.
With the Middle East now blowing up, the price of oil in free fall, and Saudi and Iran at each other’s throat, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a major “wag the dog” event in the Persian Gulf sometime soon. Makes us very nervous holding shorts in oil.
If the U.S. ambassador in 1990 was sympathetic to Iraq’s concerns over the oil price, how much more is the State Department currently going to be with an “oil man” as Secretary of State?