Thursday, March 30, 2017

The moniker Iraqgate

The United States supported Iraq and dictator Saddam Hussein (officially the fifth President of Iraq) during the war against post-revolutionary Iran. The dubious support that involved the US government, US companies, middle-men, Italian and American banks and various other “players” eventually got the label Iraqgate. This moniker refers back to another political scandal that occurred over a decade earlier during the Nixon presidency. Both Watergate and Iraqgate encompass a complicated web of schemes, tricks, cover-ups and questionable activities—incompatible with a mandate of legal and transparent policy.   

Journalist Sally Denton investigated the history and development of the US-based Bechtel enterprise and its intersection with US foreign interests. In The Profiteers Denton summarizes Iraqgate—the scandal that sensitive Iraqi projects, including the Bechtel-led construction of a plant capable of manufacturing chemical weapons, were financed by US taxpayers—as follows:

Iraqgate left behind a trail of murky US government-backed financing through Italian and American banks, dummy corporations, criminal allegations, and an international cast of conspirators. Before it was over, a full-scale congressional investigation would expose the presidential administrations of both Reagan and his successor, George H. W. Bush, for their double-dealing policy of collaborating with foreign arms merchants in arming the loathsome Saddam while condemning such efforts publicly. The probe would find that BNL [Rome-based Banca Nationale del Lavoro] had funneled billions of dollars, some in US credits, to build Saddam's formidable arsenal. Called “the mother of all all foreign policy blunders” by Texas congressman Henry Gozales, in Iraqgate, US taxpayer turned a “run-of-the-mill dictator” into a Frankenstein monster. The BNL shell game was a case study of how the “executive branch, working with private business” ran an off-the-books foreign policy, according to one study that described it as a “deal with the devil.”

Keywords: investigative journalism, conspiracy, sale of dual-use technology, influence peddling, illegal activity.

Sally Denton: The Profiteers. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 2016; pages 198-199.