An investigative history of Western complicity in Saddam Hussein’s crimes reveals the story his trial never will.
In February 1991, the Shia of southern Iraq rose against Saddam Hussein.
Barry M. Lando, a former investigative producer for 60 Minutes, argues compellingly that this ill-fated uprising represents one instance among many of Western complicity in Saddam Hussein’s crimes against humanity. The Shia were responding to the call for rebellion from President George H.W. Bush that was broadcast repeatedly across Iraq by clandestine CIA stations. But, just as the revolution was on the brink of success, the United States and its allies turned their backs. In the end, tens of thousands were massacred.
Because of restrictions imposed by the Special Tribunal prosecuting Saddam Hussein, the extensive role of the U.S. and its allies in his crimes will never be explored at his trial. But as Web of Deceit demonstrates, the nations that now denounce Saddam most prominently secretly backed the dictator from his rise to power in the 1960s and ‘70s to his offensives in Iran and, despite warnings, took no action to stop his invasion of Kuwait. They also turned their backs when he used chemical weapons against the Iraqi people and persisted in international sanctions long after they had proved ineffective and, for hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, lethal.
Web of Deceit draws on a wide range of journalism and scholarship to present a complete picture of what really happened in Iraq under Saddam, detailing – for the first time – the complicity of the West in its full and alarming extent.
The Iraq invasion of 2003 was only the latest in a long line of episodes of Western manipulation in that country, which owes its existence and its complex and troubled demographics to the designs of British imperialists. Lando, a 60 Minutes investigative producer and filmmaker, carefully arranges all the threads of modern Iraqi political history and liberally doles out the guilt. Though the subtitle mentions Churchill and Kennedy, the book covers the period from WWI through the 1970s in the first two chapters, with the bulk devoted to Iraq after 1989. Through extensive quotes from politicians, statesmen and official documents, Lando exposes the duplicity and ulterior motives that have pervaded the West's dealings Iraq. From the CIA's artificial prolonging of the Iran-Iraq War to the legendary betrayals of the Kurds and Shiites, the result has been death and destruction on a massive scale. Though the prose is sometimes dry and Lando's focus on Machiavellian politics makes it hard to get a clear view of Iraqi society, his book offers readers a grasp of the country America has broken more than perhaps any other.