Making the conspiracy theorist a prophet: Covert action and the contours of United States-Iraq relations

Journal Article

Convert action is an inherently fraught undertaking. It can produce important diplomatic or strategic gains at a relatively low price, but it can also result in substantial "blowback" when it fails to remain covert. This article traces the impact of two covert operations-US support for a Kurdish rebellion in northern Iraq in the 1970s, and US arms sales to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war-on Saddam Hussein's strategic perceptions of the United States. It argues that revelations of US covert action interacted symbiotically with Saddam's preexisting suspicions of the United States, helping to forge a legacy of mistrust and hostility that did much to shape his views of the relationship. Saddam's personality and worldview inclined him toward conspiratorial thinking; US policies made this outlook seem prophetic. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Brands, H

Published Date

  • 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 33 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 381 - 408

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0707-5332

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/07075332.2011.595169