History Lesson: Iraq – 1980 – 2003

I’m impressed with how many Americans are paying attention to foreign policy these days and thinking about how we can improve some of our, Uhm, how should I say this? Let’s go with, worst tendencies.

Seems like a good time for a history lesson. I’m going to skip over Guatemala, El Salvador, Venezuela, Iran, Guam, East Timor, Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama, Chile, and ok, ok, let’s just get on with this. We’ll focus on Iraq for now. Here’s some stuff you probably didn’t know.

In the 1980’s we supported Sadam Hussein and started funneling money to his government to counter Iran.

We sold Iraq plenty of conventional weapons but the Reagan administration also allowed them to buy the raw materials needed to make chemical weapons from U.S. manufacturers.

The U.S. supplied the Iraqi military with intelligence as to where they could use these chemical weapons both against Iran and some of Saddam’s enemies within Iraq’s borders.

Saddam warned us that he was going to invade Kuwait and then when he did we went to war with him. Even though our stated objective was to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait we also destroyed their critical infrastructure throughout the interior of Iraq itself. Crippling energy production, water purification, manufacturing facilities, even destroying hospitals and schools. Iraq was one of the most advanced nations in the middle east at the time and we basically blew them back to the stone age. Their GDP dropped from almost 50 Billion in 1990 to 9 Billion in 1992.

After the war began we imposed massive sanctions on Iraq that lasted until we invaded them in 2003. It made it impossible to rebuild their destroyed infrastructure and difficult to import food, medicine, and everything else that normal trade relations afford modern countries. Mortality rates plummeted, infant mortality rates plummeted, health care was severely hampered. It became so bad that we came up with the Oil For Food program. A way for Iraq to sell oil in order to gain access to crucial food supplies and medicine. By all measures the sanctions were draconian and throughout the 90’s the cost to the civilian population was debated heavily in the international community. The main reason they weren’t lifted was because the United States and Britain demanded that they stay in place. The usual statistic cited from the effects of the sanctions, even though widely debated, is a death toll of around 500,000 people.

Then along came this guy, man what was his name? He did a thing. What was that again? Anyway, he declared war on us and he cited three reasons. 1) The Iraqi sanctions. 2) Our support for Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. 3) And our military presence in Saudi Arabia. Man, I always forget this guy’s name. Anyway Obama eventually killed him. Oh that triggered it, Osama Bin Laden. Right, you probably never knew why he attacked us because Bush told you he did it because he hated our freedoms. Apparently Senior W did not think you were adult enough to know the real reasons that Bin Laden stated for his fatwa against America. In any case our sanctions against Iraq were a big part of it. If you lived somewhere in the world at the time that actually showed you what was happening in Iraq you’d be horrified. Like you’re horrified today about Palestine. In fact if we had TikTok or Instagram in the mid-nineties those sanctions probably never would’ve gone on as long as they did.

Anyway you probably know the rest. Osama Bin Laden attacked the U.S. and we declared war on Iraq and really blew it to hell that time. Even though Saddam had nothing to do with Al Qaeda or 9/11 and actually hated Bin Laden and disapproved of his tactics and his ideology. In fact Saddam referred to Bin Laden as a zealot and wanted nothing to do with him. It’s all in the 9/11 Report if you want to know more about it. I know, I know, George Bush told you something else, that’s how it goes. Or went, or still goes, I can’t keep track anymore. That’s why we don’t know anything.

Well anyway, keep caring everybody, it’s a good thing.