Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

02.20 Young climate strikers can win their fight. We must all help

02.20 Voyage to the Garbage Patch: the female sailors taking on plastic

02.19 Bees brought Bavarians together. And they have a lesson for us all

02.19 Florida is drowning. Condos are still being built. Can't humans see the writing on the wall? [Fear that Trump & Fox News incite makes us avoid unpleasant information we need to know]

02.18 Tesla big battery is holding its own in a burgeoning energy storage market

02.18 Trump administration condemned over delaying action on toxic drinking water

02.16 New experimental drug rapidly repairs age-related memory loss and improves mood

02.16 Toxic black snow covers Siberian coalmining region [0:49 video; If its killing us, stop doing it]

02.16 Renewable energy will be world's main power source by 2040, says BP [But in America's capitalistic bubble, bribed-to-be-biased media and government defy reality]

02.16 My generation trashed the planet. So I salute the children striking back

02.16 US coastal businesses hit by everyday impact of climate change, study shows

02.16 What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]

02.14 Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence [If its killing us, make it illegal]

02.14 To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]02.13 Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]

02.12 Biggest offshore windfarm to start UK supply this week

02.12 Scientists Are Totally Rethinking Animal Cognition

02.12 Politicians are complicit in the killing of our insects – we will be next

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

02.21 Bezos Says Amazon Drones Ready to Deliver Mueller Report to Every American Household

02.21 Devin Nunes Was Trump’s Mole Inside the Gang of Eight

02.21 Alec Baldwin fears for family's safety after Trump 'retribution' threats [0:40 video]

02.20 Intimidation, Pressure and Humiliation: Inside Trump’s Two-Year War on the Investigations Encircling Him

02.20 ‘Sustained and ongoing’ disinformation assault targets Dem presidential candidates [If you can sense them, block them!]

02.20 The 2020 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet

02.20 Why Bernie Sanders' radicalism can take out Trump

02.20 Why vote for Sanders when you can have Elizabeth Warren instead?

02.19 Democratic party elites silence Ilhan Omar at their peril [2:01 video]

02.19 The Political Revolution Is Back: Bernie Sanders Announces 2020 Run for President

Justice Matters

02.19 California Leads 16 States Suing to Block Trump Border Plan

02.19 Fighting pollution: Toledo residents want personhood status for Lake Erie [Hurrah!]

High Crimes?

02.20 Despite the slaughter in Yemen, Britain is still chasing arms sales [and the Great-Again-America is too...Capitalism without morality is horrible]

02.16 Elliott Abrams Defends War Crimes As Happening Back In The ’80s When Everyone Was Doing It

Economics & Corrupting-Capitalism

02.21 Historian who confronted Davos billionaires leaks Tucker Carlson rant

02.20 A Centuries-Old Idea Could Revolutionize Climate Policy

International & Futurism

02.21 John Oliver Compares Brexit ‘Disaster’ to Will Smith’s Genie in Live-Action ‘Aladdin’ (Video) [21:26 video; we’re approaching an Idiocracy-type of society, where stupidity is “normal”]

02.20 House report lays bare White House feud over Saudi nuclear push [Its hard to keep up with all the criminal crap going on...]

02.20 My grandfather was a Nazi. I’ve seen why we need the EU

02.19 Centrism isn’t the solution to the mess we’re in

02.19 Renewables need urgent investment to ease Australia's transmission bottlenecks, experts warn

02.18 Hate-Fest in Warsaw

02.18 They Used To Hold Hands Through the Wall. Now, There’s Razor Wire.

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Lost History Hurts Obama's Iran Bid
Newspaper logo

DISTORTED HISTORY DISTORTS THE FUTURE:

Lost History Hurts Obama's Iran Bid

by Robert Parry
26 March 2009

President Barack Obama and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke past each other in a recent exchange partly because both countries nurse historical grievances against the other and neither has fully acknowledged that mutual history dating back three decades.

For instance, in responding to Obama’s Persian New Year message, Khamenei appeared to reference a top-secret U.S. document in which President Ronald Reagan’s first Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, described being told by Middle East allies in 1981 that President Jimmy Carter had given a “green light” to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran in September 1980.

That “Talking Points” document, which Haig used to brief Reagan, was first revealed at Consortiumnews.com in 1996 after I discovered it among documents left behind by a House task force that had investigated allegations that Reagan’s 1980 campaign contacted Iranian officials behind Carter’s back, the so-called “October Surprise” scandal.

From those early contacts, Reagan’s administration then secretly sanctioned arms shipments to Iran via Israel, a pattern that later merged into the Iran-Contra Affair, according to evidence that has emerged from several investigations of these linked scandals.

After returning from his first Middle East trip in April 1981, Haig wrote in his “Talking Points” that he was impressed with “bits of useful intelligence” that he had learned.

“Both [Egypt’s Anwar] Sadat and [Saudi then-Prince] Fahd [explained that] Iran is receiving military spares for U.S. equipment from Israel,” Haig noted. “It was also interesting to confirm that President Carter gave the Iraqis a green light to launch the war against Iran through Fahd.”

When I contacted Haig after discovering his “Talking Points,” he refused to comment. Carter declined my request for an interview, but he had dismissed earlier reports about him encouraging Hussein’s attack against Iran.

The Iran-Iraq War started on Sept. 22, 1980, during a bitter standoff between the United States and Iran over Iran’s holding of 52 U.S. hostages, a crisis that doomed Carter’s re-election hopes.

At the time of the Iraq invasion, President Carter termed Iranian charges of U.S. complicity "patently false." In his memoir, Keeping Faith, he mentioned the Iranian allegation only obliquely in the context of mentioning the start of the war, writing: “Typically, the Iranians accused me of planning and supporting the invasion."

The ‘Green Light’

The issue of Carter’s alleged “green light” resurfaced on March 21 as Khamenei reacted to Obama’s message a day earlier. In a speech in Mashhad, Iran, Khamenei ticked off a list of Iranian complaints about U.S. policy since the Islamic revolution toppled the American-backed Shah of Iran in February 1979.

“Since the very beginning, the U.S. government has treated our revolution angrily and their tone has always been aggressive,” Khamenei said, according to a translation at his Web site. “The U.S. government - both Republican and Democratic presidents - treated the Islamic Republic unfairly.”

Khamenei traced the origins of this hostility to the Carter administration and its alleged encouragement of the Iraq invasion.

“They gave Saddam the green light to attack our country,” Khamenei said. “If Saddam had not received the green light from the U.S., most probably he would not have attacked our borders. An eight-year war was imposed on our country, during which about 300,000 Iranian civilians and youth were martyred.”

Khamenei also addressed another element of America’s “lost history” from that era, the so-called “Iraqgate” scandal in which the Reagan administration secretly assisted Saddam Hussein’s army as it held off the numerically superior Iranian forces.

The Reagan administration was covertly backing both sides in the war as first the Iraqis and then the Iranians had the upper hand. Like the October Surprise case, however, congressional and federal investigators shied away from any full examination of Iraqgate.

Still, that secret U.S. aid to Iraq remains a sore point for the Iranians.

“Throughout the war, especially in the last few years, Americans supported and helped Saddam,” Khamenei said. “They provided him with financial support, weapons, technical information, political assistance, satellite intelligence and media support.

“They used to use their satellites to record the activities of our forces at the front. Then they used to send the information to Saddam to use ... against our youth and forces. They turned a blind eye to Saddam's crimes. ...

“Chemical weapons were used in the front line against us. ... They [the Americans] did not raise any objections. Instead, they helped Saddam. That was another measure taken by the U.S. government against our nation.”

Iran’s ‘Lost History’

However, Iranian leaders have their own hidden history, particularly their secret collaboration with Israeli operatives and Reagan’s team during 1980 and later. Even today, the fact that senior ayatollahs struck covert deals with representatives of what were called the Little Satan and the Great Satan, respectively, is politically sensitive and possibly personally dangerous.

Though some Iranian officials outside Iran dared speak of these contacts – the likes of former President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, ex-Defense Minister Ahmad Madani and acting Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh – key officials inside Iran denied the contacts or remained silent.

So, for instance, Ayatollah Mehdi Karrubi, an alleged Iranian intermediary to Reagan’s representatives and the Israelis but who remains an important political figure in Tehran, denied to me that he had any involvement in the 1980 contacts. [Ghotbzadeh was executed by the Iranian government in 1982; Madani died in 2006 in Colorado; Bani-Sadr lives outside Paris.]

In his March 21 speech, Khamenei also avoided mentioning the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979, and the taking of 52 American hostages who were held captive for 444 days and not released until Jimmy Carter relinquished the presidency to Ronald Reagan on Jan. 20, 1981.

For his part, President Obama’s message on March 20 referred only generally to the troubled past between the United States and Iran.

“For nearly three decades relations between our nations have been strained,” Obama said in a Nowruz – or New Year – message to “the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Though the reference to the “Islamic Republic” and to its leaders marked a break with the more hostile tone of President George W. Bush, Obama continued to lay most of the blame for the “strained” relations on Iran with references to its alleged support of terrorism and its purported pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations,” Obama said. “You have that right – but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization. And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create.”

Obama offered no specific apology for any U.S. mistreatment of Iran, nor is it clear that he has a full grasp of the “lost history” between the two countries.

Some of his Democratic advisers on the region, such as former Rep. Lee Hamilton and ex-Sen. David Boren, played key roles in sweeping the complex and painful history under the rug in the early 1990s when the political imperative favored bipartisanship over truth.

The cover-ups continued under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. [For the fullest account of the October Surprise and Iraqgate scandals, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

Bad History, Bad War

These historical gaps and misunderstandings proved useful to President Bush in building his case for invading Iraq in March 2003.

Because most Americans knew little about the covert U.S.-Iraqi relations, Bush could get away with painting a simplistic portrait of Saddam Hussein as an “aggressive” and “unpredictable” dictator who had invaded two neighbors, Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990.

In both cases, however, Hussein may well have believed he had “green lights” from the United States, in 1980 from Fahd’s advice about Carter’s views and in 1990 from a confused series of messages from George H.W. Bush’s ambassador, April Glaspie, and from the State Department.

President George W. Bush ensured that a full history of those events would never be known when he helped rush Saddam Hussein to the gallows on Dec. 30, 2006.

Though Bush treated the hanging as a high point of the U.S. invasion and occupation, it also represented the silencing of a dangerous witness who could have implicated prominent U.S. officials from both his father’s and his own administrations in a series of crimes and scandals.

Former President George H.W. Bush, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and current Defense Secretary Robert Gates were among those who could breathe a little easier after the hangman’s noose had choked the life out of Hussein.

The elder George Bush, as Vice President, allegedly oversaw a covert U.S. operation to assist Hussein’s war machine during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War; Rumsfeld, as special U.S. envoy to the Middle East, had private chats with the Iraqi dictator about his war needs; and Gates, as a senior CIA official, reportedly rebuffed Israeli protests about U.S. tolerance for third-country military shipments to Iraq, including precursor chemicals for chemical weapons.

Hussein was a unique witness to these events. Perhaps no other Iraqi possessed so much direct knowledge of these high-level discussions and what resulted from them. Thus, with Hussein’s execution, the witness with the fullest overview of how Iraq built its chemical and biological weapons program in the 1980s was gone.

In death, Hussein couldn’t disclose what Rumsfeld told him during their famous hand-shake meeting in 1983, or whether he got an alleged message from Vice President Bush in the mid-1980s about how to deploy his air force against Iran, or if his regime knew that Gates was running interference for Iraq’s military supply line in the 1980s.

Nor could Hussein give his account of the mixed messages delivered regarding the two “green lights” – one allegedly from Carter in 1980 and the other from George H.W. Bush’s ambassador in 1990. All that history and more could have been salvaged if Hussein had been turned over to an international tribunal at The Hague.

Instead George W. Bush insisted that Hussein be kept under tight American guard and be tried in Iraq despite the obvious fact that the ousted Iraqi dictator would receive nothing close to a fair trial before being put to death.

Now these historical gaps – and the unwillingness of powerful people in both Iran and the United States to have the full truth come out – are setting the stage for perhaps another series of miscalculations between Washington and Tehran, which could lead to another round of tragedies.


Robert ParryRobert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on March 26, 2009.

 

Public Service Ads: