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Sure, Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda Would Never Work Together
[February 16, 2003]

By John Bragg

Certain individuals and agencies have raised the ridiculous specter of the secularist, pan-Arab national socialists of Iraq’s Baath Party and the Islamist jihadis of the al-Qaeda network forming a partnership. The very idea is ludicrous, and brings to mind other ridiculous alliances which had been alleged in the past by scaremongers and warhawks and other such irresponsibles.

In the 1980’s, during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, fringe elements of the press issued stories about American backing for the Islamic mujahideen of Afghanistan. These stories should, of course, have been dismissed immediately as rubbish—as if there was any possible common ground between the Islamic, fanatical, backward muhajideen and the mostly Christian, capitalist, advanced Americans. And yet this idea found wide acceptance, even among mainstream journalists.

In the 1970’s, some of the more fevered imaginations in the Nixon-Kissinger White House conceived of a mad scheme in which the free, democratic United States would cooperate with the bloodstained Red Chinese of the Cultural Revolution against the Soviet Union. This delusion did not die even with the death of mad old mass-murdering maniac Mao. Into the 1980’s there were press reports of the US using a radar base in north China—often on the same page as reports of US arms shipments to the Afghan mujahideen, in a coincidence of conspiracies.

But the search for alliances under the bed did not begin with the Cold War. During World War II, there were constant rumors of an impending Alliance between the US and Britain, on the one hand, and Soviet Russia on the other hand, despite the obvious incompatibility between Soviet Communism and the English-speaking democracies, and the long record of mutual distrust and dislike that Stalin and Churchill shared. This delusion was matched by the delusion that, before the beginning of the war, there had been a deal struck between Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany to divide up Eastern Europe. Apparently, Stalin was to do a deal with first Hitler and then Churchill, in defiance of all consistency. Before the war, there were rumors of a pact between Japan and Germany, despite the Nazis’ deeply held doctrines of Aryan racial superiority.

The diplomacy leading to World War I was a constant sea of rumors of unlikely alliances about to form, disturbing the sleep of those foolish enough to be disturbed. The archives of the German Empire are filled with paranoid visions of a Franco-Russian alliance—an alliance of the Third Republic, atheist, progressive, republican France, the land of Hugo and Lafayette and Bonaparte and liberte, egalite, fraternite, with the medieval Autocrat of all the Russias, the tyrant who kept his hundred million peasants in brute subjection familiar to a Sumerian. There was even a small faction within the Chancellery which entertained paranoid visions of Britain resolving their colonial disputes with France over Africa, and with Russia over Asia, and forming an “entente” against Germany.

Rest assured, an alliance between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden is equally unlikely.

 

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