Contrary to popular belief…

What percentage of Saddam Hussein's weapons came from Britain and America? I ask because

on the rare occasions the BBC mentions Saddam's genocidal crimes it always says he was 'armed by the West.'

I bet you can't guess the answer. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a mere 0.46 per cent of conventional weapons bought between 1973 and 2002 came from America and 0.17

per cent came from Britain.

The overwhelming majority came from France and the Soviet Union, while West Germany gave Saddam the plant

to make the poisons he used to gas the Kurds.

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  • Al

    France, Germany and Russia qualify as “The West,” even if they try to pretend that they repudiate Western values.

    The certainly aren’t countries that people usually think when “The West” is mentioned. I’d like to repudiate them myself.

  • Eric

    Actually, I don’t think anyone would argue that Russia is part of the West. Germany is iffy. There was a concerted effort by “Western civilization” to bring Germany into the fold, so to speak, after WWII. Still, it’s often clear they’ve only partly aligned with the West. France is clearly part of what we call “the West”.

    The author that Robert quoted clearly meant something else. The point, though, is still a valid one, even if he did goof on what the West is.

  • Bret

    The fact still remains that the we armed Saddam meme doesn’t hold a lot of water.

    But, then again, that argument never persuaded me anyhow. How does complicity in the problem preclude us from being part of the solution? In fact, shouldn’t it motivate us more?

  • Eric

    That goes along with the whole “You broke it, you bought it”, which most of us believe. In fact, the meme of “you created the problem, therefore you’re hypocrites” is really about beating up on someone and nothing else. There’s many good, valid reasons to think that the Iraq War was the wrong choice, and we can debate those all we want. It’s these suicidalism meme’s that are the real problem. The ones that are focused on sticking our heads in the sand and just ignoring the rest of the world.

  • Robert

    Bret wrote: ”How does complicity in the problem preclude us from being part of the solution?”

    I tend to agree with you, theoretically; but in my view, Saddam alone bears responsibility for the consequences of his actions. This includes ordering his subordinates to carry out genocide and otherwise brutalizing his countrymen (of course, his agents are responsible for their actions). So, the idea that the West in general, and the U.S. in particular are culpable for Saddam’s and/or his minion’s immoral behavior is patently absurd.

    Two implications of that are (a) Reagan, H.W. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al willfully and deliberately “created” a psychotic dictator by arming Saddam and (b) Saddam would not have committed mass murder, invaded Kuwait or become a threat to Americans if the Regan Admin had not allied with him all those years ago. Frankly, that argument stretches credulity beyond the breaking point.

  • Eric

    We aren’t, of course, responsible for what Saddam did. However, if we know that he is killing his own countrymen and launching wars of aggression, are we ethical by selling him more weapons? Shouldn’t we take responsibility for those actions? It doesn’t, at all, imply that we are responsible for what Saddam did, just that we are responsible for a decision to sell a bad guy more weapons.

  • Robert

    Obviously, selling weapons to a known bad actor is highly irresponsible. That said however, the historical context in which Saddam was armed ought to be considered, rather than a knee-jerk condemnation of U.S. foreign policy, which the anti-war folks seem to favor.

  • Bret


    I agree with you, culpability remains solely with him. I was just pointing out that IF you believe we created this monstrosity, then we have even more motivation to do something about it. The anti-war crew seem to believe the opposite. They’re generally just trying to make America look bad at that point.