Why Is This Man Smiling?

On December 20, 1983 President Reagan’s special envoy, Donald Rumsfeld, met with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to foster closer ties between the two nations. On the agenda was how best to counter Iran and how to find alternate routes for Iraqi oil since the Iranians had cut off Iraq’s ability to ship oil through the Persian Gulf. The meeting with Saddam Hussein went swimmingly with the Dictator pleased by the support he was receiving from Washington in his war against Iran. The troubling topic of Saddam Hussein’s recent and continuing use of chemical weapons against Iran did not come up during the 90-minute meeting.


Donald Rumsfeld shakes hands with Saddam Hussein

The United States had decided to lend its support to Iraq in its war against Iran. Although Saddam’s use of chemical weapons against Iran and Kurdish insurgents was an unfortunate distraction, it nonetheless was decided that Saddam would be a bulwark against Islamist Iran and must be supported.

The war between Iran and Iraq followed the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the rise to prominence of Islamist opposition in Iraq as a result. The most prominent opposition Islamist opposition party in Iraq was the Iranian funded al Dawa party. The current Prime Minister of Iraq, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, is a long time member of the al Dawa party. As tensions between Iraq and Iran escalated after the Iranian Revolution over the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway, the attempted assassination of Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz by al Dawa became a major precipitating factor that culminated in the Iraqi attack on Iran.

Iraq retaliated against al Dawa by systematically assassinating its members. Most remaining members of al Dawa fled to Iran. Under Iranian protection, the al Dawa party began to engage in ever-greater acts of terrorism against Iraq and Western interests. These acts included multiple attempts at assassinating Saddam Hussein and other leaders of the Iraqi Government and the car bombing of the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut on December 15, 1981. The Iraqi Embassy bombing in Beirut was the beginning of the modern era of suicide car bombing. The al Dawa party is also responsible for the bombing of the U.S. Embassy and French Embassies in Kuwait on December 12, 1983 in which six people were killed. 

While based in Tehran the al Dawa party formed a terrorist wing called the Islamic Jihad. Islamic Jihad and al Dawa were responsible for acts of terrorism against Americans in Kuwait and Lebanon. Islamic Jihad was the germ of what would later become the Iranian backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. The 1983 car bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 marines while they slept was carried out by these precursor groups to Hezbollah. That attack on the Marine barracks has been tied directly to Iran through its surrogates such as al Dawa.

Our brief jaunt through the history of the al Dawa party and our support for Saddam Hussein at the time raises the question, "Why is Donald Rumsfeld Smiling?" Who are our real enemies? Is the world really divided into "us" and "them"? And does membership in the "us" and "them" clubs shift over time due to political expediency?

The United States has a long history of supporting some very bad actors without regard for human rights, terrorism, murders, use of weapons of mass destruction, democracy, human rights or any of the other high ideals that the Bush Administration preaches and the evil acts the Bush Administration so righteously abhors. History shows that we have chosen to throw our lot in with any actor in a conflict without regard for any ideals simply because it supported some grand notion of realpolitik.

We have through our practice of nurturing hateful regimes and groups reaped the rewards that invariably come with such support. All our protégés have come back to harm us. These include, in no particular order, Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. As history has taught us nothing we have now elevated the al Dawa party and Ibrahim al-Jaafari to power in Iraq. Of all people Donald Rumsfeld should know the history of al Dawa well.

Now we are making noises to try to replace al-Jaafari as Prime Minister in Iraq. The likely replacements for al-Jaafari now are another al Dawa member or a member of the SCIRI (The Supreme Council for Islamic Resistance in Iraq). None of those prospects offer any hope of a better regime in Iraq.

The Bush Administration rhetoric rings hollow. It has never been about "evildoers". Who we consider evildoers changes with the political winds. This kind of pragmatic foreign policy might be appealing if not for the fact that in almost every instance the United States has been repaid by our protégés of the day with death and destruction and in most cases with American blood.

We should keep this in mind as we embark on another misadventure in Iran with the support of your newest terrorist allies: Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK).

So I ask again, "Why is this man smiling?"

This entry was posted in Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Why Is This Man Smiling?

  1. Thomas says:

    Suck cock, asswipe.

  2. Thomas says:

    Suck cock, ass monkey.

  3. Endangered Species says:


  4. RJD says:

    Wow, I never saw that picture of Rummy and Sadam before. What a scoop. Don’t forget the little people when you collect your Pulitzer.

    /sarcasm off

  5. usnjay says:

    This seems to be an unfair standard to apply only to the US. Every major power including China and Russia have supported groups that had human rights problems. American politicians don’t operate in a neat and tidy world and they can’t see into the future. You’re attacking the US while it is making obvious attempts to help free a region of tyranny while giving a free pass to China and Russia, which are cozying up to Venezuela and Sudan while those countries’ leaders are engaging in oppression and mass-genocide, respectively.
    So I question your motives. Do you want to make the world a better place or do you want to attack America? Or am I mistaken, and maybe tomorrow you’ll discuss the millions of poor people saved by America’s medical advances?

  6. GOP Endangered Species says:

    So I question your motives. Do you want to make the world a better place or do you want to attack America?

    Why can’t you do both, yanno, criticize America AND make the world a better place? because most conservatards are like Gerald Ford or George W. Bush? They can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, or in Chimpy’s case, they can’t think and speak at the same time.

  7. GOP Endangered Species says:


    Suck ass, cockwipe!

  8. Mash says:

    usnjay, please read my other articles for background. My argument is exactly that it is not a neat and tidy world. Yet we are told to blindly follow this “good” and “evil” idea in foreign policy. However, there is a vast middle ground between “good” and “evil” and Kissinger’s cold calculations (most of which backfired, by the way).

    American foreign policy needs to be more forward thinking and not make shortsighted decisions as to who we favor today. That is my point. There is something to be said for supporting the party that is responsible for 241 American marines dying. Knowing history is very important.

    My goal is to make America a better place. I have never attacked America, I am not a cannibal.

  9. usnjay says:

    Then I think we agree. The world isn’t a neat and tidy place and you have to make decisions based both on principle and on the best information you have at the time. So Rumsfeld is smiling b/c he’s meeting someone who, based on the best information he has, will help the US oppose an evil force.
    Today in Iraq we’re supporting people who have imperfect histories but are willing to participate in a democratic process, while helping us oppose violent suicide bombers. Of course some of them will ‘turn’ on us in the future, and we’ll have to deal with them then.

    Good article, thanks.

  10. Mash says:


    The part that concerns me, and not as a partisan but as an American, is that I think the Dawa party coming to power in Iraq gives Iran enormous power in Iraq. I think these guys, and Dawa and SCIRI are allies, are using the Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigade to carry out ethnic cleansing while at the same time getting legitimacy from us.

    We are caught in a real difficult situation between Iraq and the rise of Iran as a major regional power. I am not smart enough to find a good way out of this. But I think this is a good discussion and debate to have. And perhaps there is a way out here without much damage to our long term interests.

  11. usnjay says:

    Concur, I share that concern. The question is whether democracy will take permanent hold in Iraq. Few democracies revert once the population reaches a certain level of prosperity (~10k GDP per capita), but Iraq isn’t there yet and it can’t be said they’ve reached democracy at all. The Dawa party didn’t come to power in the way the Ba’th did, but it hasn’t come to power like the Labour party did in England. A primary milestone for a democracy is a peaceful transfer of power between two competing ideologies.

    I only partly disagree with your last assessment. Clearly both the US and Iraqi long term interests are helped by a struggle b/w oppression and democracy, even a bloody one; as opposed to the dominating dictatorships that existed prior to our invasion. Unless we left today our long-term interests are already far better than they were on 9/11.

  12. Mr.Bill says:

    Once, Iran had an democratic government. It elected a fellow named Mossadegh, a democratic socialist as president. The smart guys at the CIA and elsewhere in Washington worked to overthrow him and install Rezi Pahlevi, the Shah. We went on to ‘use’ the Shah as a counterweight in the Middle East, giving him arms and nuclear reactors, and turning a blind eye to human right abuses.
    When the Shah fell, and the Ayatollahs came to power, the same set of smart guys armed Saddam Hussein (once CIA’s man in Baghdad), turned a blind eye to human rights abuses AND the use of Weapons of Mass Destructions (in this case, poison gas)against his own people. (the Rummy Photo in above is from this era, and in that trip Rumsfeld gave Saddam golden spurs and the good wishes of the US Govenment). I’m pretty convinced that the Smart Guys colluded with the radicals in Iran to keep the Embassy Hostages in play until Jimmy Carter left office…
    And now the same smart guys, who’s punted Iraq, are about to attack Iran, with the Israeli bombing of Iran’s reactors as sort of justification.
    And I have been called ‘disloyal’, ‘Anti-American’ for pointing this out, and saying that I think the Smart Guys who have screwed up to often are wrong..

  13. John says:

    The reason rumsfeld is smiling is because he knows the military industrial complex is going to make a fortune off of selling weapons to Iraq. All of these politicians are major stock holders in the military weapons companies.

  14. Mash says:

    Mr. Bill, the Smart Guys like to believe that they will be right the next time even though they have been wrong every time in the past. I guess they are just optimists 🙂

    To wit, Bill Krystal is in a tizzy finding all sorts of good reasons to blow up Iran. He should know what he is talking about since he was so spectacularly right about Iraq – moron!

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  18. MysticSaint says:

    the infamoous picture.

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