Thatcher’s Tyrants – The Tanks, The Guns, The Christmas Cards

The late American historian Howard Zinn wrote:

reminded readers that 'signs that Galloway's views stretched the bounds of public acceptability' had long been evident; for example, 'he was memorably saluting the "indefatigability" of Saddam Hussein, long after the Kuwait invasion'. (Rob Marchant, 'Is anyone in Britain still listening to George Galloway's Respect Party? And should they be?,' The Independent, November 9, 2012)

The Guardian also commented last year:

declared Thatcher 'one of the great champions of freedom and liberty'.

George HW Bush described her as 'one of the 20th century's fiercest advocates of freedom', whose 'principles in the end helped shape a better, freer world'.

The Economist agreed, praising Thatcher for 'her willingness to stand up to tyranny'.

The Telegraph's Defence Editor, Con 'Con' Coughlin, opined:

was driven by 'a determination to change the world for the better, a quality which she shared with President Reagan, probably the most important strand in their relationship.'

This was admirable indeed, Powell noted, although it 'involved being horrid to foreigners from time to time'. Well, nobody's perfect.

Perhaps inspired by such comments, a letter published in the Birmingham Mail responded to Galloway's ugly 'May she burn in the hellfires' reaction to Thatcher's death:

"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Halabja – Twenty-Five Years Later

Coincidentally, the month prior to Thatcher's death marked the 25th anniversary of Iraq's March 16, 1988 gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja. It has been estimated that between 3,200-5,000 civilians died as part of Saddam Hussein's Anfal campaign.

The Halabja atrocity was mentioned frequently in 2002-2003 as Western politics and media propagandised for war on Iraq, ostensibly in response to the 'threat' of weapons of mass destruction. The Lexis database finds (April 17, 2013) no less than 1,227 UK national newspaper articles mentioning Halabja. As we discussed in 2003, the media mostly managed to miss the damning details. By way of a rare exception, Dilip Hiro wrote in the Guardian:


described 'the Thatcher government's duplicitous record' on Iraq:

recommended that the best way to avoid public outrage but still profit from Iraq was to sell only non-lethal equipment but to 'define this narrowly':



"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>The Super-Saleswoman

We have focused on Thatcher's arming and funding of Saddam Hussein because the media is supposed to despise him and anyone who supports him or so much as 'salutes' him. But Thatcher's arming and funding of the Iraqi tyrant at the height of his criminality is only the tip of a very bloody iceberg. As John Pilger commented:


sold the Shah 1,500 state-of-the-art Chieftain main battle tanks and 250 repair vehicles costing £650 million.

Thatcher described Indonesian tyrant Suharto as 'One of our very best and most valuable friends.'

The 1965-1966 massacres that accompanied Suharto's rise to power claimed the lives of between 500,000 and 1 million people, mostly landless peasants. A 1977 Amnesty International report cited a tally of 'many more than one million' deaths. In the words of a leaked CIA report at the time, the massacre was 'one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century'. (Declassified US CIA Directorate of Intelligence research study, 'Indonesia – 1965: The Coup That Backfired,' 1968; http://newsc.blogspot.com/)

Suharto's US-armed invasion of East Timor in December 1975, killed 200,000 people out of a total of 700,000 – one of the worst genocides in history by proportion of population killed.

Britain granted Suharto hundreds of millions of pounds of loans to buy weapons before, during and after Thatcher's time as prime minister. On her watch, hundreds of fighter-bombers, tanks, armoured cars and numerous other weapons were delivered and used to kill civilians.

Thatcher told her close friend, the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, that she was 'very much aware that it is you who brought democracy to Chile, you set up a constitution suitable for democracy, you put it into effect'.

Three weeks after Pinochet's US-backed coup in 1973, a secret US briefing paper entitled 'Chilean Executions' put the 'total dead' from the coup at 1,500. The paper reported that the junta had summarily executed 320 individuals. After three months, 11,000 people had been killed. According to the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR):

supplied by UK manufacturers. In 1980, a year after she took office, Thatcher lifted the arms embargo on Pinochet – a flow of weapons, including fighter-bombers, followed.

Thatcher's list goes on and even makes the US look principled. CAAT again:

"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>'A Strong Defence Policy' – The Missing Moral Compass

This, to remind ourselves of the media's supposed intolerance of all who support dictators, was David Aaronovitch on George Galloway in 2003:

asserts that Thatcher 'won' the argument for 'a strong defence policy', an analysis 'which few will contest'.

A recent leading article in the Observer did at least mention Thatcher's horrific policies: