Bulletin N° 101


             16 December 2003
              Grenoble, France

              Dear Friends and Colleagues,

              We have received a flurry of mail concerning the capture of Saddam Hussein
              by U.S. Special Forces last Saturday night, 13 December, 18 hours before it
              was announced publicly.

              Among the best analyses of this event, are two articles sent to us by our
              research associate, Professor Richard Du Boff (please see items A and B,
              below). Also, Professor Elisabeth Chamorand, our research associate in
              Grenoble, has notified French readers that TV-ARTE will air a special
              program this evening on the history of Saddam Hussein, whose trial promises
              to be an embarrassment to the U.S., if his criminal activities are truly
              investigated, and all guilty collaborators are arrested. (See item C, below)

              Francis McCollum Feeley
              Professor of American Studies/
              Director of Research

              From: Michael Moore

            We Finally Got Our Frankenstein... and He Was In a Spider Hole!
              By Michael Moore

              December 14, 2003

              Thank God Saddam is finally back in American hands! He must
              have really missed us. Man, he sure looked bad! But, at least he
              got a  free dental exam today. That's something most Americans
              can't get.

              America used to like Saddam. We LOVED Saddam. We funded him.
              We armed him We helped him gas Iranian troops.

              But then he screwed up. He invaded the dictatorship of
              Kuwait and, in  doing so, did the worst thing imaginable -- he threatened an
              even BETTER friend of ours: the dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, and
              its vast  oil reserves. The Bushes and the Saudi royal family were and
              are  close business partners, and Saddam, back in 1990, committed
              a royal blunder by getting a little too close to their wealthy
              holdings.  Things went downhill for Saddam from there.

              But it wasn't always that way. Saddam was our good friend
              and ally. We supported his regime. It wasn't the first time we had
              helped a  murderer. We liked playing Dr. Frankenstein. We created a
              lot of  monsters -- the Shah of Iran, Somoza of Nicaragua, Pinochet
              of Chile  -- and then we expressed ignorance or shock when they ran
              amok and  massacred people. We liked Saddam because he was willing to
              fight the  Ayatollah. So we made sure that he got billions of dollars to
              purchase weapons. Weapons of mass destruction. That's right,
              he had  them. We should know -- we gave them to him!

              We allowed and encouraged American corporations to do
              business with Saddam in the 1980s. That's how he got chemical and
              biological agents  so he could use them in chemical and biological weapons.
              Here's the list of some of the stuff we sent him (according to a 1994 U.S.
              Senate report):
              * Bacillus Anthracis, cause of anthrax.
              * Clostridium Botulinum, a source of botulinum toxin.
              * Histoplasma Capsulatam, cause of a disease attacking
              lungs, brain, spinal cord, and heart.
              * Brucella Melitensis, a bacteria that can damage major organs.
              * Clostridium Perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria causing
              systemic illness.
              * Clostridium tetani, a highly toxigenic substance.

              And here are some of the American corporations who helped to
              prop  Saddam up by doing business with him: AT&T, Bechtel,
              Caterpillar, Dow  Chemical, Dupont, Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM (for a
              full list of  companies and descriptions of how they helped Saddam, go here).

              We were so cozy with dear old Saddam that we decided to feed
              him satellite images so he could locate where the Iranian troops
              were. We pretty much knew how he would use the information, and sure
              enough, as soon as we sent him the spy photos, he gassed those
              troops. And we kept quiet. Because he was our friend, and the Iranians were
              the "enemy." A year after he first gassed the Iranians, we
              reestablished full diplomatic relations with him!

              Later he gassed his own people, the Kurds. You would think
              that would force us to disassociate ourselves from him. Congress tried
              to impose  economic sanctions on Saddam, but the Reagan White House
              quickly  rejected that idea -- they wouldn't let anything derail
              their good buddy Saddam We had a virtual love fest with this
              Frankenstein whom we (in part) created.

              And, just like the mythical Frankenstein, Saddam eventually
              spun out of control. He would no longer do what he was told by his
              master. Saddam had to be caught. And now that he has been brought
              back from  the wilderness, perhaps he will have something to say about his
              creators. Maybe we can learn something... interesting. Maybe
              Don Rumsfeld could smile and shake Saddam's hand again. Just
              like he did when he went to see him in 1983 (see the photo here).

              Maybe we never would have been in the situation we're in if
              Rumsfeld, Bush, Sr., and company hadn't been so excited back in the
              80s about their friendly monster in the desert.

              Meanwhile, anybody know where the guy is who killed 3,000
              people on 9/11? Our other Frankenstein?? Maybe he's in a mouse hole.

              So many of our little monsters, so little time before the
              next election.

              Stay strong, Democratic candidates. Quit sounding like a
              bunch of  wusses. These bastards sent us to war on a lie, the killing
              will not  stop, the Arab world hates us with a passion, and we will
              pay for  this out of our pockets for years to come. Nothing that
              happened  today (or in the past 9 months) has made us ONE BIT safer in
              our  post-9/11 world. Saddam was never a threat to our national

              Only our desire to play Dr. Frankenstein dooms us all.

              Yours, Michael Moore
              <mmflint@aol.com> <www.michaelmoore.com>

              For a look back to the better times of our relationship with Saddam
              Hussein, see:
              * Patrick E. Tyler, "Officers say U.S. aided Iraq in war despite use of
              gas," New York Times, August 18, 2002.
              * "U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual Use Exports to
              Iraq and their possible impact on health consequences of the Gulf War,"
              1994 Report by the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affiars.
              * William Blum, "Anthrax for Export? The Progressive, April 1998
              * "Iraq: U.S. military items exported or transferred to Iraq in the
              1980s," United States General Accounting Office, released February 7, 1994.
              * "U.S. had key role in Iraq buildup; trade in chemical arms allowed
              despite their use on Iranians and Kurds," Washington Post, December 30, 2002.
              * "Iraqgate: Saddam Hussein, U.S. policy and the prelude to the Persian
              Gulf War, 1980-1994," The National Security Archive, 2003

              from Richard Du Boff :
              Subject : World Socialist Web Site

             The official US response to the capture of Saddam Hussein: a degrading spectacle
              By David Walsh
              16 December 2003

 The official American response to the capture of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein must provoke feelings of deep disgust. It requires a  political and media establishment from whom all traces of democratic or  humane instinct have been eradicated to react with a display of such  ignorance, vindictiveness and sadism.

 There is irony in the fact that only a regime as depraved as the current one in Washington could create by its actions a degree  of sympathy for Hussein, a right-wing nationalist thug and former ally of the US.

 Banner headlines screaming “We’ve got him!,” the innumerable and tedious variations on the “rat” caught in his “hole,”              countless news items citing the event as George W. Bush’s “ultimate Christmas present”—what does this all add up to? Victor’s justice, with an unspeakably backward and repellent quality to it.

 The capture of Hussein, an inevitable event given the current disposition of military forces and the free hand that American     forces have to bribe, bully and torture, is only the latest and most  dramatic in a series of such episodes. Since the re-eruption of naked American colonialism in the 1980s, the US has demonized a long list of foreign leaders and “brought              to justice” figures like Manuel Noriega of Panama in 1989 and Slobodan Milosevic of the former Yugoslavia in 2001. The             process is thoroughly  stereotyped by now. A thread connecting between these individuals and others, including Osama bin Laden, is their former association with the US government, military or CIA.

 The stupidity and hypocrisy of the American media  knows few bounds. After years of pontificating about Hussein’s              palaces—and this coming from multimillionaires—the media pundits now point to his inglorious end  in “a mud-caked hole in the ground,” as though the undignified condition were of his own choosing. The New York Post of Rupert Murdoch, as is       generally the case, offered the foulest example of  gutter journalism, commenting that Hussein looked “every bit like a              subway panhandler  while a medic checked his scalp for lice.... Even after he’d been cleaned and shaved, it was obvious that he’d lost the will to fight: His eyes were blank, his face a mask of submission.”

This is pretty rich. Hussein was hiding for months from the most lethal military force on the planet. His sons have been              murdered. What sort of condition was Hussein likely to be found in? And as for his comportment, can it be truly said that he behaved with less  fortitude than an American  president would under similar conditions? American politicians regularly              burst into tears when they lose a primary election. The scene of Richard Nixon’s resignation, in the East Room of the White    House in August 1974, prompted this comment from one journalist: “Sometimes one wished that his agonized wife would take this wretched slobbering, spluttering man away by the arm and propel him into some windowless vehicle for transport to obscurity.”

 Kill or torture Hussein? Journalists are now pressing Bush and his cohorts with questions about the possibility of executing Hussein. At his Monday news conference, he was asked by one reporter: “Do you think that execution should be an              option?”

Bush smirked, “He will be detained. We will work with the Iraqis to develop a way to try him that will stand international        scrutiny, I guess is the best way to put it.... I’ve got my own personal views of how he ought to be treated, but I’m not an Iraqi citizen. It’s going to be up to the Iraqis to make those decisions.” And the assembled reporters pretended to believe his last point.

There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein has many crimes to answer for.But so, for that matter, does George W. Bush and those among his associates whose launching of an aggressive war against Iraq constitutes, if the precedent of the Nuremberg trials retains any standing, a crime. What legal, let alone moral right have American government officials—whose hand-picked man in Baghdad, Ahmad Chalabi, is a convicted felon—to put Hussein on trial? They all have unclean hands.The tribunal proposal is another example of Washington’s criminality and flouting of international law. Bush administration officials simply make things up as they go along, according to the military, political or electoral needs of the moment.

 And the media laps it up, as do the tops of the Democratic Party. The inevitable Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut,    candidate for his party’s presidential nomination, quickly joined the chorus calling for blood. If an international or Iraqi tribunal could not execute Hussein, Lieberman said, “he should be brought before an American military tribunal and face death.”

Providing a glimpse into the depths of depravity to which the US media has sunk, Leslie Stahl of CBS News’s prestigious 60    Minutes program queried Rumsfeld Sunday night on the advisability of torturing or killing Hussein. She asked, “Let me raise the whole question, for lack of a better term, [of ]torture. Let’s say he’s not forthcoming. Would we deprive him of sleep, make it very cold where he is, or very hot? Are there any restrictions on the way we treat him to get him to cooperate more than he has been?” When Rumsfeld indicated that the US would not torture “this person,” she pursued the matter, “Sleep deprivation, that kind of thing. You’re ruling it completely out, is that what you’re telling us?”

Later this revealing exchange took place:
           Stahl: “Did it cross your mind at all once you heard  it was likely that they  knew where he was and he might be captured—that it would be better if  he were killed? Would it just be better if he weren’t alive?”

           Rumsfeld: “Well that’s a fair question. You know, I  have a lot of things I  worry about and try and think through, and that was one thing I could do  nothing about. We either were going to kill him or capture him, and our policy is we try and capture and not kill and if we’re not able to capture and we can kill, we do it.”

 We might as well be listening in on a conversation between two Mafia wise guys. The desire to humiliate and terrorize is uppermost in the minds of Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and the Bush brain-trust, as well as their servants in the media. The demeaning handling of Hussein, in contravention of the Geneva Conventions, including the medical examination broadcast to a worldwide television audience, is intended to intimidate not only the Iraqi resistance and general  population, the Arab              world and all those who might consider opposing US imperialism around the globe, but, in the final analysis, the American      population as well. The message is: all resistance is futile, we will trample on you too.

 To whom is such a display intended to appeal today? The most backward and morally depraved section of the US              population, the  semi-fascist base of the Republican Party, the social and psychological type whose counterparts in the ancient world used to whoop at the sight of a man or woman thrown to the lions. Celebrating this barbaric episode speaks to their own lack of humanity.

The degrading of Hussein follows the obscene display of his sons’ corpses earlier this year. No one in the US media will         recall the howls  emitted by the Pentagon when the Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera broadcast footage of dead and captured American soldiers last March. At the time Rumsfeld piously told the press, “The Geneva Convention indicates that it’s not permitted to photograph and embarrass or humiliate prisoners of war.”

 The spectacle of official America celebrating over Saddam Hussein’s capture, with its air of a particularly primitive and             bloodthirsty ritual, will horrify and outrage masses of people. It becomes more and more apparent, and this is a relatively recent feature of  modern social life, that  the American ruling elite inhabits a political and  moral universe that is distant and alien from the lives and feelings of the overwhelming majority of humanity, including American humanity. In decent-minded people such    goings-on can only evoke feelings of shame, the sense  of witnessing something unclean.

Whatever Bush and company can claim to represent is foreign and hostile to the most honorable traditions and ideals of the        American people. They exist in another world. Iraqis have no cause to celebrate There is no reason to doubt the list of Hussein’s  crimes, although no US  commentator will point out that the worst of them were  committed when              he was in a de facto alliance with Washington. However, reporters were quick to note a subdued mood in the Iraqi population.              The experience of eight months of American military rule, combined with a natural and inevitable instinctive hostility to foreign, colonial  occupation, have disabused all but the most naïve or corrupt Iraqis of any illusions in US “justice.” A recent poll indicated that 91 percent of the population had little interest in the hunt for or prosecution of members of the former             regime.

 Joshua Logan of Reuters, for example, writes: “Joy at the capture of Saddam Hussein has given way to resentment towards    Washington as  Iraqis confront afresh the bloodshed, shortages and soaring prices of life under US occupation. Many were ecstatic to see Saddam in the dock and hoped he would answer for his deeds but said they would not rush to thank America—in their eyes the source of their problems since a US-led coalition toppled Saddam in April.” Resistance attacks     on US forces and  Iraqi collaborators continued unabated following Hussein’s capture.

 Arab public opinion throughout the Middle East was similarly hostile, responding to the obvious attempt by the American       military to humiliate and degrade the former leader. Even those interviewed  by Western  media outlets who were pleased with Hussein’s capture deplored the fact that it was Bush and the US military who brought him down. The mood in the American population was markedly subdued as well, outside of the pockets of pro-war zealots and despite (or perhaps because of) the media bombardment. The Washington Post published  the results of a poll indicating that only 15 to 23 percent thought the     arrest would “help a great deal.” Nine in ten Americans felt “big challenges” remain in Iraq. Forty-two percent of the        population continued to argue that the war was not worth fighting. Twice as many Americans say the war is going worse than expected than think it is going better than expected.

 A CNN-Gallup poll found the same general result, that the capture of  Hussein had relatively little impact on attitudes              toward the war or Bush.

 The general response in the US is one of caution, skepticism, apathy. Bush made a pompous and lying “address to the nation,” as though many cared to listen to what he had to say. Why should anyone in America  rejoice over Hussein’s capture, an event that will not bring the end of US military intervention one day closer, save the life of one Iraqi or American soldier, improve the state of international or  regional stability or remedy the increasingly desperate economic condition of broad layers of the         population at home?

 Hussein’s crimes pale in comparison  If every crime attributed to Hussein since the Baathists took power for good in 1968 were true, his hands would still not be stained with a fraction of the blood spilled by a series of US presidents over the same   general period. Under Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, four million Vietnamese lost their lives as the result of US intervention, along with an estimated one million Cambodians and half a million Laotians. In Indonesia in 1965, a CIA-supported coup resulted in the deaths of another half a million people. Between 1954 and 2002, 300,000  Guatemalans are estimated to have met their deaths as the result of US-backed government repression. Another 100,000 are thought to have died in El Salvador.

In Argentina and Chile in the 1970s, with the capable assistance of the Nixon-Kissinger and Carter-Brzezinski regimes,            military butchers tortured and murdered 50,000 people. Hundreds of thousands, if not more, Iraqis, including half a million children, have encountered a tragic fate as the result of the two wars conducted by US forces, and a decade of devastating sanctions under Bush and Clinton. The Afghan catastrophe since 1979 has resulted in another one million deaths, and one should add the lives of 3,000 innocent Americans lost in  the terrorist attacks of September 2001, which was one              of the byproducts of the disastrous US encounter with the Central Asian nation.

 And for all the talk about the Kurds, the US has stood shoulder toshoulder with the worst oppressor of that people, the     Turkish regime. Indeed, the arrest of Hussein resembled nothing so much as the capture of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, carried out with US assistance, in February 1999.

Treatment of captured enemies In more civilized times even the most implacable enemies were treated with dignity. Napoleon Bonaparte, whom a contemporary British account termed “that bloody miscreant, who has so long tortured Europe” and        whose cruelty “is written in characters of blood in almost every country in Europe and in the contiguous angles of Africa and Asia which he visited,” was treated with respect aboard the Bellerophon when  he surrendered in July 1815, and this was after a first escape and subsequent military campaign.

 And what of the treatment of Gen. Robert E. Lee, who had led a  rebellion against the United States in defense of              slavery, resulting in the deaths of 600,000 Americans? Consider the response of his dedicated enemy, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, at Appomattox in April 1865: “Whatever his [Lee’s] feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on  the receipt of his letter [proposing negotiations], were sad and  depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a  people ever fought, and one for which there was not the least excuse. I do not question,  however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.”

 Some might argue that these are not appropriate analogies; after all, Saddam Hussein is neither a Napoleon nor a Lee. No      doubt he is not. But then, Bush is neither a Wellington nor a Grant. In any event, it is not so much a question of the character and actions of the vanquished, but those of the victor. Hussein’s brutal and illegal treatment is a further sign of the political, moral and cultural degeneracy of the American ruling elite.

 See Also :
     * Saddam Hussein’s capture will not resolve Iraqi quagmire [15 December 2003]
     * The killing of Hussein’s sons: the Nuremberg precedent and the criminalization of the US ruling elite
              [24 July 2003]

              from Elisabeth Chamorand :
              December 17, 2003

              good morning, Francis,
              Tonight Arte is going to broadcast "My friend Saddam" again.
              It might be interesting, as you have mentioned the role of the US in the
              gassing of Iranian troops.


              Francis McCollum Feeley
              Professor of American Studies/
              Director of Research at CEIMSA
              Université de Grenoble-3
              Grenoble, France