Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The secret history of the world

By now, you have no doubt heard all about the New York Times report on the exposure of U.S. military personnel to discarded chemical weapons in Iraq. It is indeed a scandal that the Bush administration and its military kept these incidents a secret, failed to provide troops with the information and equipment they needed to stay safe, and failed to properly compensate or care for the injured. Yeah, that's bad, but it buries the lede.

Of course the wingnuts are already screaming that there were too Weapons of Mass Destruction™ in Iraq after all, but obviously that isn't true. The last thing W would have done is to keep that a secret. As the Times story says, "The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale." These weapons were manufactured in the 1980s and mostly buried after Iraq abandoned its chemical weapons program. They were no longer usable, although the residues were dangerous. But . . .

The real story is that the U.S. and European nations supported Iraq in its war against Iran, so they made sure Saddam had these chemical weapons. German firms provided manufacturing plants, and U.S. firms sold Iraq the chemicals to make mustard gas. European companies provided the shell casings and rockets. The U.S. was well aware that Iraq was using these weapons against Iran, weapons which the U.S. and its European allies were supplying. In case you don't remember, the president of the United States was St. Ronald Reagan.

But the false accusation that Iraq had a current Weapons of Mass Destruction™ program provided the rational for an illegal war of aggression by the U.S. The use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad was a "red line" that would have triggered a U.S. air assault if Vladimir Putin hadn't arranged a way out. The point is, all of our political discourse is hypocrisy and lies. The Times occasionally does a service like this and reveals the truth, but it pretty much sinks without a trace in the public consciousness.

Another goodie from the Times today, the not always reliable Frank Bruni. Like I said.

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