Thursday, March 12, 2009

Iraq's Post-December 1963 History Revisited: Part 3

(See parts 1-2 below)

The history of Iraq is still being influenced by 150,000 U.S. occupation troops and 200,000 private contractors. Yet the mainstream "educational television" stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) often appear more eager to broadcast programs about the history of rock music since 1960 than programs about the history of Iraq.

But as Rashid Khalidi observed in the introduction to the 2005 edition of his Resurrecting Empire, "the hubris that allowed Pentagon planners to think that they were somehow immune to the lessons of history produced a grossly mismanaged occupation that has become hated by most Iraqis and has engendered fierce resistance." U.S. anti-war activists, however, may find some knowledge of post-December 1963 Iraqi people's history of use in debating with U.S. opponents of an immediate U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq in 2009.

The Ba'th Party remained in control of the Iraqi government until the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the Republican Bush Administration. And by 1976, the number of Ba'th Party activists in Iraq had increased to 10,000 and the number of Ba'th Party supporters in Iraq had jumped to about 500,000.

In 1967, the Democratic Johnson Administration had sent former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Anderson to Baghdad to assist the Ba'th Party, according to a December 24, 2003 column by Larry Everest which was posted on The Athens News website. Reuters also reported in an April 20, 2003 article, titled "Ex-U.S. Official Says CIA Aided Ba'thists," that former U.S. State Department official and National Security Council staff member Roger Morris revealed that in 1968 "the CIA encouraged a palace revolt among Ba'th party elements." According to Morris, the post-July 1968 Ba'th regime "was unquestionably midwifed by the United States, and the [CIA's] involvement there was really primary."

Although still denying the Iraq Communist Party legal status, the post-July 1968 second Ba'th regime pardoned all Iraqi political prisoners in September 1968; and it allowed exiled Iraq Communist Party activists to return to Iraq.

But in 1969, at least 20 members of the Iraq Communist Party faction that had split off to form the "Iraq Communist Party-Central Command" group were arrested by the regime and killed by torture. After breaking down under torture, the surviving leader of the Iraq Communist Party-Central Command faction, Aziz al-Hajj, was put on Iraqi television by the Ba'th regime to call on his followers to cooperate with the Ba'th regime. In addition, 53 Iraqis were also executed on alleged spying charges by the Ba'th regime in 1969. (end of part 3)