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U.S. Government Retirement Program

SADDAM HUSSEIN "FRIEND" 1983 "RETIRED" 2006

OSAMA BIN LADEN "FRIEND" 1979 "RETIRED" 20?1

MUAMMAR GADDAFI "FRIEND" 2009 "RETIRED" 2011

The photos to the left seem to depict Americans who posed with them:

  • Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein

  • Osama Bin Laden with an unknown American.

  • Muammar Gaddafu and Barak Obama

While this image exists to "make a point", are the photos on the left true and represent a strong alliance as stated by "friend"? Did these alliances start (or were strong) on the mentioned dates?

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Some sources to help someone who has time to answer: vosizneias.com/34405/2009/07/01/… en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shakinghands_high.OGG –  Oddthinking Dec 29 '12 at 10:27
3  
Personal opinion: There is a difference between being a friend and having a strong alliance. One does not presuppose the other. Governments often make "friendly" contact with their enemies or with the enemies of their enemies - for pragmatic reasons. Such meetings do not always indicate a strong or enduring alliance. Governments are often accused of hypocrisy because of these shifting relationships but citizens often require pragmatism from their governments that can lead to government figures shaking hands with people they may despise or distrust or whose policies they strongly disagree with. –  RedGrittyBrick Dec 29 '12 at 11:17
2  
Not really sure here on what you're asking: do you ant to know whether these were US allies, or whether shaking hands means an alliance? –  Sklivvz Dec 29 '12 at 11:46
    
Hello & Marry New Year, diplomacy has become multifaceted, although it may not seem at first look. –  Carlo_R. Dec 29 '12 at 12:08
2  
I think the photos are a distraction. It is well known that the USA (and some other western powers) have supported several of the people in the past. Bin Laden and others in Afghanistan were supplied with weapons to oppose the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein was supplied with weapons to act as a bulwark against revolutionary Iran. Perhaps we should question the extent of such support? –  matt_black Dec 29 '12 at 12:44
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3 Answers

up vote 17 down vote accepted

TL;DR;

  1. Faked image
  2. Not bin Laden
  3. Much less interesting than it seems

I'll look at the pairs of pictures in reverse order.

Third Image: Gadaffi and Obama.

Handshakes

Here's the photo in the Washington Times on July 9, 2009

Obama meets Gadaffi

The article says

Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, who former president Ronald Reagan once denounced as a "mad dog," supped on pasta just two seats away from President Obama at the Group of Eight summit today and even secured a handshake with the U.S. president.

Gaddafi is attending the summit in his role as president of the African Union

So the president of the USA shook hands with the president of the African Union. There is nothing in the report to indicate that this particular handshake committed the USA to a strong and enduring alliance with the African Union.

The article continues

Denis McDonough, a White House official, said before the meal that Obama would not hesitate to greet Gaddafi. ''He doesn't intend to choose which leaders he'll shake hands with and which he won't: he'll be very happy to greet everyone he meets," he said, adding: ''He wants to see cooperation with Libya continue in sectors such as Tripoli's decision a few years ago to give up its nuclear program, an absolutely voluntary decision that we consider positive."

It can be plausibly argued that the president of the USA viewed his shaking hands with the then ruler of Libya as helping to encourage or reward a process of nuclear disarmament and a cessation of sponsorship of terrorism.


Alliances

If we look for an alliance using the dictionary meaning of "a formal agreement or treaty between two or more nations to cooperate for specific purposes."

One list of arms-control related agreements and treaties at http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/LibyaChronology includes

January 3, 2008: Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgam pays an official visit to the United States and signs a Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement. This is the first official visit by a Libyan Foreign Minister to the United States since 1972.

August 14, 2008: The United States and Libya sign the U.S -Libya Claims Settlement Agreement, providing full compensation for victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and the bombing of the Berlin disco. Under the terms of the agreement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice certified to Congress that Libya paid $1.5 billion to cover terrorism related claims against Tripoli. The agreement also addressed Libyan claims arising from U.S. military actions in Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986 to the amount of $300 million.

Note Barack Obama was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009.

November 20, 2009: Libya unexpectedly halts the shipment of the remaining 5.2 kilograms of HEU in spent fuel from its Tajoura research reactor. The material was scheduled to be flown to Russia for disposal that same month as part of an agreement between the Libya, Russia, and the United States.

there's no mention of any bilateral USA-Libya agreement or treaty signed on or around July 9 2009.


According to the state department, the following USA-Libya treaties are currently in force

Agreement relating to the termination of outstanding agreements with Libya.
Exchange of notes at Tripoli February 5, 1972.
Entered into force February 5, 1972.
23 UST 82; TIAS 7275.

Agreement regarding grants under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, or succes­sor legislation, and the furnishing of defense articles, defense services and related training, including pursuant to the United States International Military Education and Training (IMET) Program.
Exchange of notes at Tripoli May 2 and December 8, 2009.
Entered into force December 8, 2009.
NP

SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION Agreement on science and technology cooperation, with annexes.
Signed at Washington January 3, 2008.
Entered into force April 4, 2008.
TIAS 08-404.

ATOMIC ENERGY Agreement to facilitate the provision of assistance for the transfer of spent high-enriched uranium nuclear fuel to the Russian Federation.
Signed at Tripoli October 28, 2009.
Entered into force October 28, 2009.
TIAS 09-1028.

CLAIMS Claims settlement agreement, with annex.
Signed at Tripoli August 14, 2008.
Entered into force August 14, 2008.
TIAS 08-814.

DEFENSE Military assistance agreement.*
Signed at Tripoli June 30, 1957.
Entered into force June 30, 1957.
8 UST 957; TIAS 3857; 284 UNTS 177.
Note
* Terminated February 5, 1972, except that Article I, paragraphs 2 and 4, arrangements under Article I, para­ graphs 3, 5, and 7, and under Article II remain in force.

Arrangement for return of equipment and material no longer needed in the furtherance of the mutual defense assistance program.
Signed at Tripoli June 30, 1957.
Entered into force June 30, 1957.
8 UST 963; TIAS 3858; 284 UNTS 188.

Agreement relating to the termination of outstanding agreements with Libya.
Exchange of notes at Tripoli February 5, 1972.
Entered into force February 5, 1972.
23 UST 82; TIAS 7275.

Agreement regarding grants under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, or succes­ sor legislation, and the furnishing of defense articles, defense services and related training, including pursuant to the United States International Military Education and Training (IMET) Program.
Exchange of notes at Tripoli May 2 and December 8, 2009.
Entered into force December 8, 2009.
NP

SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION

Agreement on science and technology cooperation, with annexes.
Signed at Washington January 3, 2008.
Entered into force April 4, 2008.
TIAS 08-404.

None of those was signed in July 2009 at, or near, the date of the handshake.


Significance of Handshakes

Here's another handshake

Obama shakes hands Romney

There is no indication that this handshake commits the Democratic Party and the Republican party to a strong alliance.

Conclusion (re image 3)

This photograph does not represent the forging of a strong alliance between Obama and Gaddafii or between USA and Libya.


Update:

Second image: Brzezinski and unnamed Pakistani army major

The second picture is one of a series available from the Corbis Agency

Corbis image of Brzezinsky with unnamed Pakistani soldiers
© Bettmann/CORBIS

The caption there is

Original caption:Kyber Pass, Pakistan: United States Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski looks into Afghanistan through the sights of a machine gun at a Pakistan Army outpost here on the border 2/3. Brzezinski toured the area and then continued talks with the Pakistan delegation in regards to an aid package.

Stock Photo ID:     U1993539-24
Date Photographed:  03 February 1980
Model Released:     No Release
Property Released:  No Release
Location:           Pakistan
Credit:             © Bettmann/CORBIS
Licence Type:       Rights Managed (RM)

It seems questionable whether Osama bin-Laden would have been present in a Pakistani border post in 1980 in the uniform of a major in the Pakistani army and employed to hand weapons to visiting dignitaries.

This is well covered in 911 Myths which identifies an article in the Washington Post on February 4, 1980, which says

President Carter's national security adviser peered resolutely with gun in hand at Soviet controlled Afghanistan from the top of a Pakistani military outpost high above the strategic Khyber Pass. ... Zbigneiw Brzezinski, high White House aide, hesitated for a second and then declined an offer to fire the Chinese-made light machine gun toward Afghanistan.

...

The tour started with an early morning helicopter visit to a remote refugee camp in the Kurram Agency ... 12 miles from the Afghan border. ... Brzezinski was careful not to promise military assistance to the rebels, but he told them of America's support for the efforts and said, "The entire world is outraged," by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The reporter was Stuart Auerbach.

Conclusion (re image 2)

This photograph of Brzezinsky and an unidentified Pakistani army major does not represent the forging of a strong alliance between Brzezinski and bin-Laden or between the USA and Saudi-Arabian led groups opposing the Soviet invasion.


First Image: Rumsfeld and Hussein

Donald Rumsfeld's visit to Baghdad in 1983 is described in Wikipedia.

Rumsfeld and Hussein, photoshopped
source unknown, allegedly 1983

A meeting between Rumsfeld and Hussein did take place in 1983 but the alleged photo of Rumsfeld+Hussein is almost certainly not a true record of that encounter. Iraqi TV coverage shows Hussein in army uniform. The (then secret) reports of the meeting describe Hussein as being in army uniform. Personally I think Photoshop may have been involved here, look at the "shadow" round Hussein's head, consider Rumsfeld's true appearance in 1983 and 2011.

Saddam elsewhere Hussein elsewhere elsewhen

Rumsfeld in 2011 Rumsfeld in 2011

Rumsfeld in 1983 Rumsfeld in 1983

There is a declassified report Rumsfeld mission: December 20 meeting with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Rumsfeld's visit which describes the matters discussed by Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein. I assume the report is genuine and that the National Security Archive have reproduced it faithfully.

The Archive's summary is

At a 90-minute meeting with Donald Rumsfeld, Saddam Hussein evinces "obvious pleasure" at a letter Rumsfeld brought from President Ronald Reagan. The two discuss common U.S.-Iraqi interests, including Lebanon, Palestine, opposition to an outcome of the Iran-Iraq war that "weakened Iraq's role or enhanced interests and ambitions of Iran," and U.S. efforts to cut off arms sales to Iran. Rumsfeld says that the U.S. feels extremely strongly about terrorism and says that it has a home - in Iran, Syria, and Libya, and that it is supported by the Soviet Union. He encourages arrangements that might provide alternative transshipment routes for Iraq's oil, including pipelines through Saudi Arabia or to the Gulf of Aqaba in Jordan. The State Department calls the meeting a "positive milestone."

If you read the full text, there was clearly an exchange of views on a large number of regional issues but no mention (that I can see) of any new strong alliance between the USA and Iraq.

Conclusion (re image 1)

This faked photograph does not represent the forging of a strong alliance between Rumsfeld and Hussein or between the USA and Iraq.

In 1983 there was a slight thawing in diplomatic relations due to shared national interests in opposing Syrian and Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Iranian expansion etc.

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1  
Please also explain the extent of US alliance with him. What about the other two? –  aitchnyu Dec 29 '12 at 16:55
2  
+1 for your final photo, which makes your point admirably. –  Larry OBrien Dec 29 '12 at 18:31
    
You placed the gaddafi handshake in it's place on the timeline, thus negating the message the artist wanted to convey. And it enlightens about a more complex reality, which others tried to articulate unsuccessfully in this question. Accepted for teaching the correct way of placing photographs like this in a complex reality. –  aitchnyu Dec 29 '12 at 20:14
    
Well, as any self-respecting RonPaulite or far left loon will tell you, D&R are in a strong alliance called "republicats" :) –  DVK Dec 30 '12 at 7:37
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The photos oversimply a complex and changing set of relationships, the truth of which are relatively easy to discover.

  • The US cooperated with Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime during the period following the Iranian revolution and the embassy hostage crisis. It is pretty unsurprising that the US needed allies in the region at this time.
  • Osama Bin Laden fought with the Mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan, which the US supported. Bin Laden was one among many Mujahideen leaders.
  • The US pursued a policy of rebuilding relations with Libya, following some concessions and policy changes by the Libyan regime.

It would certainly be an exaggeration to characterize any of these relationships as 'deep involvement".

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Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein

Rumsfeld and Saddam

Shaking Hands: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983.

By mid-1982, Iraq was on the defensive against Iranian human-wave attacks. The U.S., having decided that an Iranian victory would not serve its interests, began supporting Iraq: measures already underway to upgrade U.S.-Iraq relations were accelerated, high-level officials exchanged visits, and in February 1982 the State Department removed Iraq from its list of states supporting international terrorism.

[...]

Iraq received massive external financial support from the Gulf states, and assistance through loan programs from the U.S. The White House and State Department pressured the Export-Import Bank to provide Iraq with financing, to enhance its credit standing and enable it to obtain loans from other international financial institutions. The U.S. Agriculture Department provided taxpayer-guaranteed loans for purchases of American commodities, to the satisfaction of U.S. grain exporters.

The U.S. restored formal relations with Iraq in November 1984, but the U.S. had begun, several years earlier, to provide it with intelligence and military support (in secret and contrary to this country's official neutrality) in accordance with policy directives from President Ronald Reagan.

[...]

Donald Rumsfeld was dispatched to the Middle East as a presidential envoy. His December 1983 tour of regional capitals included Baghdad, where he was to establish "direct contact between an envoy of President Reagan and President Saddam Hussein," while emphasizing "his close relationship" with the president.

Source: "Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984", National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 82

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