<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> Prelude: The United States and Iraq before the Iraq War <p> <p> During the quarter century prior to the American-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 the two countries had experienced almost the full gamut of relations, from being quasi allies to going to war against each other. Although the United States was officially neutral during the long and bloody Iran-Iraq War (1980–88),Washington in fact provided the Baghdad regime with vital material and intelligence assistance sufficient to avert an Iranian victory. Arguably it prevented the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime because a victorious Iran would have been unlikely to leave Saddam in power. But only a short time later, after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, supported by a series of United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including one urging members the "use of all necessary means" to force Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, Washington led a coalition of 34 countries that crushed Saddam Hussein's forces while expelling them from Kuwait. <p> Once a part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was one of several countries created when the map of the Middle East was redrawn, largely by the French and British Foreign Offices, after World War I. Britain installed a Hashemite monarch, King Faisal I, in Iraq—or as it was sometimes called, Mesopotamia—and governed the country under a League of Nations mandate until 1932. Although Iraq had formally achieved independence in October 1932 and had joined the League of Nations, Britain maintained military bases there. By the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930, Britain was granted the right to maintain air forces in Iraq for 25 years. As a consequence of a six-week Anglo-Iraq war in the spring of 1941, in which the German Luftwaffe intervened on the side of Iraq, Britain reoccupied Iraq until two years after the end of World War II. London continued to play a significant role in the affairs of the country until a revolution led by General Abdul Karim Kassim in 1958 overthrew and killed King Faisal II in a massacre at his palace on July 14, 1958. Five years later, the popular General Kassim was killed in a bloody coup. Another coup in 1968, in which Saddam Hussein played an important role, brought the pan-Arab Baath Party to power in Baghdad. <p> Unlike Great Britain, the United States had historically played a relatively limited role in the Middle East, but that changed significantly during and after World War II. President Roosevelt made Saudi Arabia eligible for Lend-Lease aid and declared that because of its oil, the defense of Saudi Arabia was a vital national interest. His interior secretary, Harold Ickes, was concerned that the United States was running out of oil, and he published an article with that title in <i>American Magazine</i>. In 1945 FDR met King Abdul Aziz aboard the USS <i>Quincy</i> in the Suez Canal, furthering ties to Saudi Arabia. After the war, Washington raced Moscow to be the first to recognize Israel after its birth in April 1948, and it has consistently championed the right of Israel to exist, although there have been occasional differences about its proper borders and a host of other issues, including expanding settlements in the occupied territories in the West Bank. The Central Intelligence Agency played an active role in the politics of a number of countries. In 1949 the CIA installed a pro-American military officer, Col. Adib Shishkali, as leader of Syria. After his regime was overthrown, Syria entered into a short-lived merger with Egypt under the name of the United Arab Republic. <p> At the behest of the British, in 1953 the American Central Intelligence Agency played the lead role in overturning the elected Mossadeq government that had nationalized foreign oil holding in Iran, and in returning the Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (hereafter the Shah) to power in Tehran. Iran had demanded an equal share rather than the one-sixth it had been receiving of the oil revenues from the giant Anglo-Persian Oil Company. When negotiations broke down, Iran nationalized the firm. Prime minister Winston Churchill had approached the Truman administration about an invasion to regain control of the oil company and its huge refinery, but Truman flatly rejected the overture. Washington attempted to promote further negotiations on the issue, but British foreign minister Anthony Eden was adamantly opposed. Believing that his knowledge of Persian literature gave him special insight into Iranians, he told Secretary of State Dean Acheson that "they [Iranians] were rug merchants and that's all they were. You should never give in and they would always come around and make a deal if you stayed firm." When Eden suggested a joint coup to overthrow Mossadeq, Acheson told him that it was the British who were behaving like rug merchants. <p> After Dwight Eisenhower assumed the presidency in 1953, Churchill tried again, pointing out that American support for London in Iran would be a quid pro quo for British participation in the Korean War. After an initial lack of enthusiasm for acting in support of the British, Eisenhower relented. When Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was persuaded that Mossadeq was favorably inclined toward Iran's small Tudeh communist party, he threw his support behind such a plan. Mossadeq had in fact excluded communists from his government and, according to Henry Grady, the former American ambassador to Iran, Mossadeq "has the backing of 95 to 98 percent of the people of the country." Dulles's younger brother, Allen, was head of the CIA. Led by Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of America's 26th president, the CIA undertook Operation Ajax wherein they used large cash handouts to various groups of thugs, and charges that Mossadeq was a tool of the communists, to generate sufficient chaos in Tehran to topple the government and to permit the weak-willed Shah, who had left the country, to return from abroad and to resume power. Some in the CIA, including Director Allen Dulles, came to view the Iran undertaking as its finest hour and a blueprint for how to deal with other recalcitrant regimes. Others in the CIA were less sure. <p> Three years later, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in response to Dulles's withdrawal of aid for building the Aswan Dam on July 26, 1956. Egypt's purchase of arms from Czechoslovakia and its threat to seek alternative financing from the Soviet Union triggered Dulles's action. The Aswan project was likely to result in increased cotton production by Egypt, giving rise to some opposition in Congress, especially among cotton state members. International negotiations failed to resolve the canal issue. In the meanwhile Israel, Britain, and France agreed on a plan wherein Israel would invade the Sinai, followed by British and French forces, ostensibly to separate the Egyptian and Israeli forces and to take control of the canal. When Egypt failed to respond to a British and French ultimatum, the invasion plan went into effect. <p> The invasion found no favor in Washington. The Eisenhower administration used its immense financial and economic power—including a threat to sell its large sterling bond holdings—to coerce the invading forces to withdraw. Secretary of State Dulles pointedly asserted that the American action represented a final and decisive break with support for traditional colonialism. Not the least reason for American displeasure was the fact that the Suez crisis took the world's attention away from the brutal, nearly simultaneous Soviet invasion of Hungary. At the suggestion of Lester Pearson of Canada, a United Nations Emergency Force was created to maintain peace in the region. Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. According to the 1957 Eisenhower Doctrine, the United States asserted the right to intervene in the area in case of a threat from international communism. <p> The July 1958 revolution that removed Faisal II from power in Iraq led to concerns in Washington about spreading turmoil in the Middle East that might engulf Lebanon, at that time a major regional banking center and sometimes considered "the Switzerland of the Middle East." The pro-Western government of President Camille Chamoun called for American assistance, citing threats of a civil war pitting Maronite Christians against Muslims. Washington invoked the Eisenhower Doctrine to justify the deployment of army and marine forces to Lebanon. The 14,000 troops were withdrawn three months later. President Chamoun resigned and was replaced by Fuad Chehab. The Macmillan government in London urged Washington to help roll back the coup against King Faisal II in Iraq but Eisenhower declined to do so as long as the new government in Baghdad, whatever its domestic policies, posed no threat to vital American interests, including continued flow of oil. <p> As a result of American support for Israel in the Arab-Israeli war in 1967, Baghdad broke diplomatic relations with Washington, and in 1972 it nationalized oil interests. The Baath regime brought Communists into the government after it had signed a 15-year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the USSR. In light of those developments, Washington viewed Iraq as a Soviet ally. In the meanwhile, Saddam Hussein, an ambitious and brutal leader, but also considered a modernizer as a result of some domestic reforms, rose through Baath party ranks and had become the de facto ruler of the country well before formally assuming the presidency in 1979. Iraq began a nuclear enrichment program with French help, but before its Osirak nuclear reactor was completed it was destroyed by an Israeli air strike on June 7, 1981. <p> A revolution in Iran saw the overthrow in 1979 of the Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlevi government and its replacement by a fundamentalist Islamic regime led by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Mussaui Khomeini. Khomeini had been among the witnesses to the 1953 coup that returned the Shah to power in Iran. While in exile, Khomeini had lived in Iraq's holy city of Najaf for four years but at the behest of the Iranian government he had been expelled and had lived in Paris prior to the upheaval that brought him to power in Tehran. This was but one source of tension between the neighboring Islamic countries. Both populations were predominantly Shiite, but Sunnis dominated the largely secular Saddam Hussein regime. Sensing that Iran had been weakened by post-revolutionary turmoil, Saddam launched an invasion of Iran in September 1980 to settle a long-standing border dispute involving the Shatt al-Arab waterway that runs into the Persian Gulf. After some initial military successes by the invading forces, Iran was able to turn the tide and put Iraqi forces on the defensive. <p> The war between the two Middle Eastern neighbors placed Washington in an awkward position. Before the Islamic revolution, Iran had been a cornerstone of American policy in the Middle East, and Iraq was viewed as ally of the Soviet Union. Iran enjoyed special access to American arms sales, and both Republican and Democratic presidents had hailed the Shah as a statesman and friend. In the wake of the disastrous Vietnam War, the so-called Nixon Doctrine allocated significant security responsibilities to major regional powers, of which Iran was one of the most important. According to Nixon, "I just wish that there were more leaders around the world with his foresight ... and his ability to run, basically, let's face it, a virtual dictatorship in a benign way." Jimmy Carter described Iran as "an island of stability in a sea of turmoil." <p> When the Shah, living in exile following his ouster, requested permission to enter the United States for cancer treatment, he had a powerful ally in Henry Kissinger, who used all his influence to accommodate the Shah. In the tumultuous post-Shah environment in Iran, some officials in Washington worried about the safety of the American Embassy. The CIA Iran branch chief had assured his colleagues in Tehran that an attack on the U.S. Embassy there was unlikely: "The only thing that could trigger an attack would be if the Shah was let into the United States—and no one in this town is stupid enough to do that." When President Carter caved in and allowed the Shah into the country, his grave doubts about the wisdom of doing so notwithstanding, Iranian militants invaded the American Embassy and held its personnel hostage for 444 days. Some Iranians may have justified that action, while contrary to the most basic norms regulating relations between countries, as a legitimate response to fears that the United States would try to restore the Shah to power, as it had done in 1953. Writing in 2004, a veteran CIA analyst described the embassy takeover as "an act of vengeance" for the 1953 coup. In short order, Iran had been transformed from a staunch ally into a country that most Americans could love to hate. Television networks ended their nightly newscasts with a scoreboard showing the number of days that the Iranians had held American diplomats hostage, and T-shirts depicting the Ayatollah in the worst possible terms enjoyed brisk sales. <p> The prospect of an Iranian victory and the possible transformation of Iraq into a clone of Iran—a fundamentalist and revolutionary Islamic regime—led Washington to rethink its policy toward Iraq. In 1979 Iraq had been added to a State Department list of countries sponsoring terrorist activities, including support for the militant Abu Nidal organization, and in 1980 the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that Iraq had been "actively acquiring chemical weapons capacity since the mid-1970s." Two years later the Reagan administration removed Iraq from that list, without consulting Congress, thus making Iraq eligible to buy "dual-use" technology—that is, technology with both civilian and military applications, including heavy trucks, helicopters, and high-speed computers. The administration approved the sale of 60 Hughes helicopters, and the secretaries of commerce and state lobbied the National Security Council to permit the sale of ten Bell helicopters, ostensibly for crop spraying. With little effort, those aircraft could be—and were—used to spray poison gas on Iranian forces and Kurdish groups in the north of the country. In 1983 the State Department asserted that Iraq continued to support groups on its terrorist list, and a CIA report revealed that Iraq had used mustard gas against Iran. State Department officials recommended discussing the use of chemical weapons, in order to deter further use and "to avoid unpleasantly surprising Iraq through public positions we may have to take on the issue." <p> Later that year, President Reagan sent Donald Rumsfeld, at that time an executive at the pharmaceutical firm G. D. Searle, to Baghdad as an official representative of the administration. On December 20, 1983, Rumsfeld met with top Iraqi officials, including Saddam Hussein, and he participated in a highly publicized photo opportunity shaking hands with Saddam. In a 90-minute meeting, the two discussed common U.S.-Iraqi interests, including U.S. efforts to cut off arms sales to Iran and opposition to an outcome of the war with Iran that "weakened Iraq's role or enhanced interests and ambitions of Iran." The wide-ranging agenda of their discussions made no mention of chemical weapons, although the issue did come up in passing at a later meeting with foreign minister Tariq Aziz. <p> After Iraq expelled the Abu Nidal organization to Syria, Rumsfeld returned to Baghdad the following year. By late 1984 diplomatic relations between Iraq and the United States were restored despite growing evidence of Iraqi use of chemical weapons. But even prior to restoration of formal relations, the United States had been providing Iraq with substantial assistance for its bloody war with Iran and to suppress its own domestic Kurdish groups in the northern part of the country. Pursuant to the administration's policy of increasing support for Iraq, the State Department urged the U.S. Export-Import Bank to provide Iraq with financial credits. With the expulsion of the Abu Nidal organization, the financing was intended to signal belief in Iraq's financial viability and to "go far to show our support for Iraq in a practical, neutral context." A State Department official informed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that it had not objected to the sales that included 2,000 heavy-duty trucks, noting pointedly that they were built not only in Michigan but also in five other states. When asked if the trucks were intended for military purposes, in an early version of "don't ask–don't tell," the official responded, "we presumed that this was Iraq's intention, but had not asked." Aside from its own sale of dual-use equipment, Washington encouraged Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Egypt to transfer various kinds of weapons to Iraq, and President Reagan personally asked the Italian prime minister to ship arms to Iraq. <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>American Public Opinion on the Iraq War</b> by <b>OLE R. HOLSTI</b> Copyright © 2011 by University of Michigan . Excerpted by permission of The University of Michigan Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.