Orwell and Iraq


As Brian Doherty noted yesterday, the Washington Post's December 30 story on the U.S.' close, supportive dealings with Saddam Hussein in the '80s are a reminder of how intervention can "often be careless, amoral, and ultimately harmful."

There's also something Orwellian about it, especially the way alliances change over time, with virtually no acknowledgment that current enemies were once the tightest of pals and vice versa. You've got to figure that due to all sorts of factors, alliances will change; it's the lack of acknowledgment that's really weird and strange. (Indeed, Iran is now a champion of Iraq, after the two countries spent the go-go '80s waging one of the bloodiest wars in recent history.)

Toward the end, the Post story reintroduces one of the great missing persons from the Gulf War: April Glaspie, then-U.S. ambassador to Iraq, who gave more clues than Agatha Christie that America wouldn't butt in if Hussein invaded Kuwait. Not long before Iraq moved on Kuwait, Glaspie told Hussein, "United States had no view of Arab-Arab territorial disputes"; afterward, she was quoted as saying she didn't think he'd take all of Kuwait.

Back in the day, the debate raged over whether Glaspie was following Geo. Bush the First's orders (or, same thing, James Baker's) or whether she was off the reservation. It's strange that she hasn't resurfaced–I haven't even been able to find anything on where she is these day. Maybe James Baker can track her down–he's easy enough to find these days, even if his policy institute wants to forget the past and jaw about a "post-conflict policy in Iraq"