Master of None: Who Armed Iraq?
Michael Williams notes a March Newsmax article about the myth that America armed Saddam. In it, Charles R. Smith wrote
Name one weapon in the Iraqi arsenal that was made in the United States.
I have offered that challenge to dozens of so-called anti-war activists who claim that the U.S. armed Iraq. According to these protesters for “peace,” George Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan supplied Iraq with tons of weapons.
None have been able to name the specific weapon “missile, bomb, fighter, tank or shell” that is U.S.-made or has U.S. equipment installed in it. None have been able to name any specific weapon system.
Everyone seems to buy into this myth, but the facts of the matter are pretty simple: even when we were ostensibly “allied” with Iraq during the 1980s, America was never a major supplier of arms to Saddam Hussein. From what I’ve seen, the most that can be substantiated is that America sold $200,000 worth of weapons to Iraq between 1972 and 1990, out of a total of $40 billion spent by Iraq during the same period.
I imagine that a fair number of “gifts” were given to Iraq that maybe didn’t show up in the numbers, but nothing that would really change the rankings. And I doubt that the US is the only country that gave undocumented military aid to Iran’s opponent.
Also, some civilian-use equipment, especially helicopters, can be modified to military use quickly and cheaply. I doubt that this stuff shows up in the numbers quoted. And there seems to have been a fair amount of US military equipment sold to Iraq by other nations after they bought it from us. But in both of these cases, as above, I can’t really see this as being more common for the US than for the other countries on the lists.
While searching for more info on the subject, I came across an Alternet.org story that tries to prove that the US sold arms to Iraq because we sold arms to Somalia. I’m not exactly sure how that proves anything, but they point out that those very arms were used shoot down Blackhawk helicopters and kill US troops in 1993. Except that Russian-built RPGs were used to shoot down those helicopters. They’ve proven a point, all right.
UPDATE: I’ve been thinking about this some more, and it occurred to me that I remember hearing about the possibility that US-made Hawk missiles might be used against our planes in 1991. A google revealed that Iraq did indeed possess some of the anti-aircraft missiles, but they had been captured from Kuwait during Iraq’s 1990 invasion of that country.
Also, I came across a recent post on The Friendly Ghost that discusses the French-made Roland missiles Polish troops found in Iraq earlier, some of France’s lies about sales of Rolands to Iraq, and other good stuff. Check it out.