Something I’ve never understood about much of America’s absurd foreign policy for the last few decades: Why do we always get the shaft? We’re the badasses with all the money, equipment, and know-how. So why is it that every damn petty dictator could twist us around to agreeing to all kinds of crazy shit that we shouldn’t have agreed to? Maybe I’m just stupid, but it seems to me that if you’re the guy with all the money and power, that everyone should be desperate to be your friend, not vice versa.
There are too many examples of this, (often in Central and South America), but was reminded of this again while reading Juan Cole’s excellent summary of Saddam’s rise to power. Cole writes about how Rumsfeld was sent to cozy-up with Saddam in December 1983, to see how we could aide Saddam’s fight against Iran (a situation which we helped create by condoning the Shah’s evil tactics). But the State Department issued a statement a few months later condemning Iraq’s use of chemical weapons, which strongly annoyed Saddam. Apparently, Saddam took that as a sign that we weren’t really his friends, and Rumsfeld had to go back out again to smooth things over.
As Cole says:
The relationship was repaired, but on Hussein’s terms. He continued to use chemical weapons and, indeed, vastly expanded their use as Washington winked at Western pharmaceutical firms providing him materiel. The only conclusion one can draw from available evidence is that Rumsfeld was more or less dispatched to mollify Hussein and assure him that his use of chemical weapons was no bar to developing the relationship with the U.S., whatever the State Department spokesman was sent out to say. '
WTF??? We didn’t need Saddam. Saddam needed us. We were just trying to help him because we had a mutual enemy. So why do we need to mollify him?? Why did we need to allow him to do things that we didn’t want him to do? What’s the worst that could happen? Saddam wouldn’t get our help and would have a harder time against Iran? Sure, that’s not really what we wanted, but it clearly would have hurt Saddam far more than it hurt us.
So what the hell’s wrong with those people? Rumsfeld and the rest of them? Why did they keep getting bitchslapped by the little pissant dictators that needed our help? I think that’s the perversity of the Kissinger plan for foreign policy. Like most of his ilk, Kissinger only sees his own weaknesses and planned around them. Deep down these people are cowards who never really understood how the game could be won. The best they could do was constantly stave-off defeat. Everything is symbolism for these people, and they don’t seem to understand which elements of war are for real.
That’s the one thing that little people never really understand, you don’t have to win all the battles. And you’ll surely lose the war if you try. And oftentimes, it’s best to just avoid the fight all together, and cut your losses when you can. But Kissinger and his ilk saw that as the ultimate sign of weakness and routinely planned around it. And that included pandering to evil dudes, using bribes and blind-eyes to ensure that they’d remain “our” guys.
And so all those petty little dictators and tyrants look like badasses holding all the cards. But we had them all from the beginning. We didn’t need to allow Pinochet to torture people. We could have elicited more democratic institutions from the Shah and those other jerkass monarchs in the middle-east. And Saddam should have been begging for our assistance. He needed to be mollifying us over his use of chemical weapons. And if he didn’t like us writing nasty statements about his chemical weapons, then maybe he shouldn’t be using the damn things. But instead, Saddam played them like suckers. Just like the Iranians played them like suckers to get rid of Saddam.
And the same goes for all that stuff. The evil plotters who are conniving enough to claw their way to the top of our system continue to see evil plots everywhere around them. For them, their weaknesses are all too obvious while their strengths continually reveal themselves as impotent jokes. These people are extremely paranoid, which is both a blessing and a curse. It allowed them to outwit their competitors, but it continues to hound their every move. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Kissinger, and the rest of them act like strutting bad-asses, but they never really forget how entirely weak they feel inside. How scared they are that everything’s about to topple over if they don’t win every single battle. The toughguy routine is all they’ve got to keep them from just falling apart.
And these are people who have had such strong influence on our foreign policy for several decades. Incompetent weaklings who just never understood when it was time to stop bluffing and save their powder for another day. Since WWII, the only real weakness America has had came from these cowardly bozos. Little boys posing as brave men; always shooting their wads at their own shadows. Always abusing our resources and power, to save their petty little egos.