In his April 14 paean to Baroness Thatcher, “‘Iron Lady’ is worth emulating,” Paul Gaysford advises Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to read her memoirs, “The Downing Street Years,” to fully grasp her own brand of conservatism.
In this 915-page volume covering her time as British prime minister, Thatcher does not once mention her government’s sales of arms and military equipment to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
As the 1992-93 Scott Inquiry into arms-to-Iraq uncovered, until the time Saddam invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Baghdad had been a profitable recipient of U.K. arms for over a decade.
From 1980 to 1990 under Thatcher’s Cabinet, the United Kingdom provided £3.5 billion in trade credits to Iraq. This support continued on either side of Saddam’s ordering the poison gassing of Iranian conscript troops in 1983-84, and of his own people in Halabja, Kurdistan, in 1988, killing 5,000 innocent civilians.
Trade export credits to Iraq rose from £175 million in 1987 (before Halabja) to £340 million after Halabja, according to a press release from the then Department for Trade and Industry. Five months after the Halabja massacre, Thatcher’s foreign secretary, Sir Geoffrey (now Lord) Howe, noted in a report to Thatcher that with the August 1988 Iran-Iraq peace deal agreed, “opportunities for sales of defense equipment to Iran and Iraq will be considerable.”
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