Saddam Hussein was a brutal, genocidal, dictator who commited many crimes, but he was also a former unofficial US ally, which supported and sanctioned his crimes and brutalities because it served US interests in the region.
Saddam first rise to power happened in 1963, when a CIA coup in Iraq ousted the existing government of General Abdel Karim Kassem, and bought the Ba'ath party, Saddam being a prominent party member and later its leader, into power.
In 1980, encouraged and supported by the US, Saddam Hussein started the Iran-Iraq war which lasted for almost eight years and claimed the lives of over a million dead Iranians and Iraqis.
While not directly supplying Saddam with weapons to fight Iraq, the CIA secretly directed armaments and hi-tech components to Iraq through false fronts and friendly third parties such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait, and they quietly encouraged rogue arms dealers and other private military companies to do the same.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983.
Saddams's most atrocious crime was the genocide of the Kurdish population of northern Iraq, between 1986 and 1989.
Following a Kurdish insurgency which numbered a few thousands of fighters, Saddam sent 200,000 troops into northern Iraq.
He destroyed approximately 4,500 Kurdish villages and displaced at least a million of the country's estimated 3.5 million Kurdish population.
He also executed, gassed and starved up to 180,000 Kurds, most of whom were innocent civilians who had nothing to do with the insurgency.
The U.S. knew full well that Hussein launched some of the worst chemical attacks in history - on his own people - and still did not stop shipments of US weapons to Iraq.
Saddam also used indiscriminate gas attacks on Iranian soldiers.
It was western companies, mainly German, that provided Saddam with the chemichals he later used on Kurds and Iranians.
A monument in memory of the victims of a chemical weapons attack on the town of Halabja.
The Reagan Administration fully supported Saddam's Iraq during the war years and even after an Iraqi warplane attacked a US battleship and killed 34 sailors.
The Reagan Administration secretly decided to provide highly classified intelligence to Iraq in the spring of 1982 while also permitting the sale of American-made arms to Baghdad.
What Saddam didn't know was that the US was also secretly selling weapons to the Iranians, via Israel, which included high tech anti aircraft missiles in what became the infamous "Iran-Contra Affair".
The US would later engage Iran directly and bomb and destroy Iranian ships, oil rigs, military and civilian targets in a effort to tilt the war to Saddam's side and help him win (Operation "Praying Mantis").
The direct US intervention in the Iran Iraq war helped to pressure Iran to agree to a ceasefire with Iraq later that summer, ending the eight-year conflict between the Persian Gulf neighbors, and saving Saddam from a military defeat.
President Reagan's Address to the Nation on Iran-Contra Affair
In 1990, The George Bush's Administration's message to Baghdad, articulated in public statements in Washington by senior policy makers and delivered directly to Mr. Hussein by the United States Ambassador, April C. Glaspie, was this:
"The United States was concerned about Iraq's military buildup on its border with Kuwait, but did not intend to take sides in what it perceived as a no-win border dispute between Arab neighbors."
The U.S. State Department had earlier told Saddam that Washington had
"no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait."
In a meeting with Mr. Hussein in Baghdad on July 25, eight days before the invasion, Ms. Glaspie urged the Iraqi leader to settle his differences with Kuwait peacefully but added,
"We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait,'"
according to an Iraqi document described as a transcript of their conversation.
Iraqi troops invading Kuwait 1990.
One week after the meeting, Saddam’s troops would storm into Kuwait and occupy the country.
It's hard to see how Saddam, after getting repeated messeges from the Bush administration about how the US about not taking sides in this conflict and how it had no commitments to Kuwait, could've interperted this in any way besides the US tacitly telling him that he had a free hand and could do whatever he wanted with Kuwait.
Several months later George Bush senior and his administration would use as justification Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, an invasion they unofficialy greenlighted and endorsed, as an excuse to declare war on Iraq and launch operation “desert storm” and start the first Gulf War.
President Bush decleration of war on Iraq
When Saddam was caught in 2003, the US refused to try him in the International Criminal Court.
The reason why the Saddam's trial was held under Iraqi auspices rather than in the International Criminal Court was, as Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, told the New York Times in 2004 :
'It's to protect their own dirty laundry... The U.S. wants to keep the trial focused on Saddam's crimes and not on their acquiescence.''
And never forget that the illegal and criminal US invasion of Iraq in 2003, was the event that set in motion a chain of events that destabilized the whole middle east, gave rise to extreme terrorist organizations like ISIS, which fed on the secterian conflict which insued in the post Saddam Iraq, and turned Mesopotamia into Mess-o-potamia.