Detective Team

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But the succession of embassy staffs in Baghdad–impressed, like the British, by the awesome human and economic potential of Iraq–were not thinking coldly enough about the bloodstained ruler of the country. Nor were they encouraged to. Remember, the Arabists in Baghdad contributed to but did not ultimately formulate U.S. Policy. My talk with Eagleton in 1984 came during a period when CIA Director William Casey was rumored to be striking an intelligence deal with Iraq as a lever against the Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran. U.S.-Iraqi trade was then beginning to boom, and both the non-Arabist commercial element of Eagleton’s staff and the Arabist political one had few qualms about conducting business as usual.

A Policy Vacuum

THROUGH Eagleton’s and Newton’s tenures in Baghdad the area specialists were at least operating within a well-defined policy construct. In 1988, however, the Iran-Iraq war ended, and Saddam Hussein provided a glimpse of his postwar self by exterminating five thousand Kurdish civilians. That was the time to begin a vigorous reassessment of the eight-year tilt toward Iraq, especially since a new Administration was entering the White House and a new ambassador was about to be dispatched to Baghdad. But the policy review seems never to have taken place.

Part of the reason for this was the new Secretary of State, James Baker, and the w