To those concerned:
Ensuing a decade of extensive arms trade with Iraq, it seems that all parties involved are reaping the fruits of their investments.
Iraq, on the one hand, has managed to build the world’s fourth largest army, and has been very resourceful at adapting this acquired military technology to their own needs on a road to relative self-sufficiency, uncommon among Third World nations.
On the other hand, the major economic powers have made a fat profit supplying this equipment while justifying these actions as a balancing strategy against Iran, during the Iran-Iraq war.
The present Gulf quagmire is a direct outcome of short term policies, combined with stubborn disregard to available information regarding the Iraqi government’s goals, and ruthless acts towards it’s own people. Were it not for greed and the promotion of short term goals, there would be a greater understanding of the region and it’s leaders, and the major industrial powers would not be in such a serious predicament.
Our policies have fed the dreams and demons of Saddam Hussein and his Ba`th party, thereby condemning the Iraqi people and allied soldiers to death. To those who were not purely motivated by blind political and economic commitments to anyone opposing Khomeini, but were aware that the policies of Saddam Hussein’s government were among the most ruthless in the world, caution was always a reality. It was not a mystery that Iraq had a long history of bloody dictatorial politics, of which Saddam was merely a by-product. We were also aware of Saddam’s frequent purges, and physical elimination of all opponents, including close friends and family members. Yet we conveniently chose to ignore these facts, just as we ignored the devastation of the Iran-Iraq war, and Iraq’s subsequent use of chemical weapons against Iranian troops, and Iraqi Kurds in the town of Halabja. Ghastly acts which prompted minimal reaction from Western governments, and the media, up to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, where it was no longer convenient to be unaware of these facts.
After the Iraqi aggression, we heard officials cry out “No more Munichs!” “No more Rhineland’s!” would have be more appropriate. The question is, why encourage nations to accumulate such a military buildup in the first place, and turn a blind eye for the sake of trade and short term political interests, while justifying that “the enemy of our enemy must therefore be our friend.”
In light of present and past blunders, it is imperative to have control over how and why we supply governments with sensitive technology, especially to political leaders with dubious profiles, and dismal human rights. It is time to acquire a real sense of responsibility which seems to be lacking beyond our borders, due to an underlying and often sublimated feeling of bigotry which permits us to forego any moral obligation, particularly in regards to developing nations. We can no longer take the approach that it is acceptable, and good business to supply weapons of destruction to countries which do not directly affect our values as long as they quietly fight each other and do our dirty work. It is an arrogant, and irresponsible attitude which worked within the contained spheres of influence of the Cold War.
Direct Western power involvement in this conflict is finally bringing a growing acknowledgement of responsibility to the surface. The reluctant acceptance that we voluntarily chose to ignore trade restrictions which existed against Iraq, as a balance against Iran, and that our administrations consequently offered little or no interest in regards to reports of severe human rights abuses within that country. The Germans are finally showing belated concern as to the criminal nature of the activities perpetrated by German companies who sold chemical, and nuclear know how to Iraq, and the acceptance that the leaders of these companies should indeed be treated as criminals. Furthermore, the Allies are beginning to realize that the traditional balance of the Cold War (U.S.-Israel, U.S.S.R.-Arabs) was never a valid long term option, for Israel or the Arabs, and that the never-ending Palestinian dilemma will have to be resolved if there is to be a long term balance in the region.
The Iraqi situation is an extreme case in point of First World double standards throughout the developing world. It is time that we stopped justifying our actions according to Theodore Roosevelt’s maxim that “He’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”
If we are to increase our compatibility between nations, and their peoples, we must drop these self-righteous attitudes, and make intelligent, long term policies using the wealth of information at our disposal, and start acting like the democracies we claim to be, and not like the nations we are trying to curb, for if we truly have democratic ideals, they should not stop at our borders.
Every nation has its own set of interests regardless. If we disagree with these governments basic ideologies, then we should not be supplying them, because our interests will eventually diverge.
If we feel the economical need to supply arms and technology of mass destruction, then we must accept that they will not always be in our best interest and that this situation can be alleviated by creating an international organization which can effectively control decisions on trade, not only for the recipient nation, but at the source of our governments. It would in effect enforce the restrictions passed by the legislatures. An important guideline would be to sell this technology to nations who are in full compliance with the United Nations resolutions, and international law. In the shrinking world of the information age, where common markets between nations are being formed, the time would seem right for implementing such steps. The world is becoming too small and the weapons too lethal for short term simplistic ideals. In light of these threats we must redouble our efforts to make rational intelligent decisions.
The end of the Cold War and the unique stability of fear it created has brought an era of danger of an even greater magnitude. In a world where communist countries are on the verge of civil war, with countless nuclear weapons at the disposal of potential extremist governments (eg: Soviet Republics), global economic problems, high population growth, and massive ecological disasters, how we conduct policy for the long term and resolve these issues, will indicate whether we survive into the 21st Century.
We must reach a different level of political and economic consciousness to understand a new world with deep rooted problems. This must include a wider range of checks and balances for the conduct of political and business interests. The demands for reforms and a new way of thinking are hardly idealistic, but require a higher degree of mental sophistication on all levels (political, economic, cultural) to bridge the widening gap between modern technology and a lagging emotional evolution. There is little time left for indecision, shortsightedness, and double standards, for they do not benefit anyone in the long run. If we are indeed entering a new world order, then we cannot do so without modifying our perceptions.
A. C. Citizen
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