Letter: The enemy of my enemy is my friend


In the wake of George Bush’s death, there’s been a lot of comparisons between him and Donald Trump — all to Bush’s advantage. But there are ways in which the men are similar.

During the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), the United States supported Saddam Hussein’s regime. Our military shared intel with the Iraqi army on Iranian troop movements. Our government provided the Iraqi government with billions in loan guarantees. We help broker arms deals for Saddam. On the principle that The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend, Saddam Hussein was our pal

In 1988, during the closing days of the war, Saddam ordered a poison gas attack against the rebellious Kurds at Halabja. The attacks killed somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 people, most of them civilians including many women and children.

The Bush administration’s response to this horrific human rights violation? Initially it tried to blame it on the Iranians. When that didn’t fly (too many eyewitness accounts of the Iraqi military carrying out the attack), the administration gave Saddam Hussein a mild scolding. A few weeks later, however, President Bush stood up in public and reaffirmed the US’s commitment to supporting Saddam’s government. Saddam, in other words, got a pass from the Bush administration for the massacre at Halabja. “Just so long as you keep killing Iranians … “

It was only in 1990, when Hussein’s forces invaded Kuwait and thereby threatened the Saudi oil fields — the Saudi royal family being close personal friends with the Bush royal family — that Saddam became “The Butcher of Baghdad.” Only then did George the First decided to “draw a line in the sand,” to stirringly announce “This aggression shall not stand!”

Saddam’s aggression against the Kurds of Halabja? Meh.

So this is what George H W Bush has in common with Donald J Trump: Both men are willing to blink at horrible human rights violations (Bush blinking at Saddam’s gassing of the Kurds of Halabja, Trump blinking at Mohammed bin Salman’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi) if the one committing those violations is the enemy of Iran.

Dr. Kelly Anspaugh, Ada

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