-= Rod Coronado, Native American activist, speaking in Brighton last week. SchNEWS
George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld are wilfully ignoring the realities of the Middle East. The result can only be catastrophic
by Robert Fisk
Years ago, in a snug underground restaurant in downtown Tehran, drinking duq – an Iranian beverage of mint and yogurt– Saddam Hussein's former head of nuclear research told me what happened when he made a personal appeal for the release of a friend from prison. "I was taken directly from my Baghdad office to the director of state security," he said. "I was thrown down the stairs to an underground cell and then stripped and trussed up on a wheel attached to the ceiling. Then the director came to see me.
" 'You will tell us all about your friends – everything,' he said. 'In your field of research, you are an expert, the best. In my field of research, I am the best man.' That's when the whipping and the electrodes began."
All this happened, of course, when Saddam Hussein was still our friend, when we were encouraging him to go on killing Iranians in his 1980-88 war against Tehran, when the US government – under President Bush Sr– was giving Iraq preferential agricultural assistance funding. Not long before, Saddam's pilots had fired a missile into an American warship called the Stark and almost sunk it. Pilot error, claimed Saddam – the American vessel had been mistaken for an Iranian oil tanker – and the US government cheerfully forgave the Iraqi dictator.
Those were the days. But sitting in the United Nations General Assembly last week, watching President Bush Jr tell us with all his Texan passion about the beatings and the whippings and the rapes in Iraq, you would have thought they'd just been discovered. For sheer brazen historical hypocrisy, it would have been difficult to beat that part of the President's speech. Saddam, it appears, turned into a bad guy when he invaded Kuwait in 1990. Before that, he was just a loyal ally of the United States, a "strong man" – as the news agency boys like to call our dictators – rather than a tyrant.
But the real lie in the President's speech – that which has dominated American political discourse since the crimes against humanity on 11 September last year – was the virtual absence of any attempt to explain the real reasons why the United States has found itself under attack.