Tuesday, May 11, 2004

On American Abuse of Prisoners II

The people who committed these crimes at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- the junior officers and enlisted personnel, the contractors -- should be tried and then punished if they are found guilty of war crimes. But the chain of command should be punished as well--and all the way to the top, which is Bush, not Rumsfeld. Why doesn't the buck stop with the military's commander-in-chief? A year ago Bush was playing it up big on the deck of that battleship. As expected, he only takes credit for what he sees as the good things the military does, while hiding coffins at Andrews AFB from the media. The buck should stop with Bush, the leader of the military, not his secretary. Of course, it is clear that Bush and Co. won't accept this buck at all. And I will be surprised if Rumsfeld resigns, since he is one of the two primary players in this oligarchical madhouse.

They are all guilty of war crimes, just as the generals in charge of the Nazi concentrations camps were. Had Hitler lived, he would have been tried at Nuremburg and held responsible for the holocaust, even if he had claimed not to have had a hands-on style of leadership, and claimed not to have known about the crimes--as Bush asserts. Just yesterday, Rumsfeld claimed that he didn't know about the prisoner abuse until only a week ago. Blatant lie: Powell, the Red Cross, and many generals all knew. Given his very hands-on style of running things, there is no way that Rumsfeld didn't know of something like this for over a year. That's how long ago the first reports started coming in.

Shades of Iran-contra: Republicans saying they didn't know about it, that this wasn't how they led, and an imbecile in charge claiming he didn't know. We should recall that Bush and Co. started their term by, among other things, undermining the International Criminal Court, the very court that would try them for these war crimes. The war itself is illegal -- a war crime. It is hard to get troops to take the Geneva Convention seriously if the war they are involved in doesn't respect international law, and the leaders themselves have repeatedly avoided backing international legal institutions--the Geneva Conventions in particular.

Bush and Co. have a history of disrespecting the Geneva Conventions. A USA Today article claims that Rumsfeld hasn't even admitted that what happened at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, and in Afghanistan violate the Geneva Conventions. But here he betrays his knowledge of the conventions when it comes to US POWs. The double standard supports the dehumanization of Iraqi POWs.

Leadership was the problem with the prisoner abuse, along with a criminally absurd ideological backdrop: thinking of these Iraqi people as "terrorists" (though most of them are innocent according to the LA Times today, 5/11, front page), as guilty before proven innocent, even though this war, despite the Orwellian twists of Bush and Co., obviously has nothing to do with fighting terrorism and again is itself a crime of which Bush and Co. are guilty. Anyone fighting the US occupation of Iraq is labeled a "terrorist." In Afghanistan, when the US employed Bin Laden to help fight off the Soviet occupation, he and his band of Jihadists were called "freedom fighters," and Bin Laden was praised by the US and given LOTS of money.

I imagine that these junior officers and enlisted people felt their actions were justified (at least partially) because they believed they were in a war connected to 9/11. But the connection between the war in Iraq and the "war on terror" is one BIG LIE, among many others, that sets up an ideological backdrop which encourages these types of abuses. As "terrorists," the Iraqis can easily be rationalized as sub-human.

The Bush administration is directly culpable for this lie, and for this ideological backdrop, as is the media for not being more critical of all the obvious lies (the words "Bush lies about ..." are nowhere to be found in the popular media since 2000, even though his lies are well documented elsewhere). There is so much confusion out there that the media could do a lot more to clear up, rather than pandering to Bush and Co. For example, few Americans realize that Al Qaeda and Saddam were mortal enemies, and that Saddam, a Sunni, imprisoned many Sunni Jihadists. Saddam would usually just kill the Shiite Jihadists, since, as with the Wahhabis and Al Qaeda, he seemed to hate Shiites more than he hated Americans (see "The Saudi Paradox" by Princton Professor Michael Doran).

To say Saddam and Bin Laden somehow worked together is a blatant lie. They despised almost everything the other stood for. Maybe they had common anti-Shiite, anti-American, and anti-Isreal interests at certain times (though not at other times: see photo of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam in the late 80s), but they hated and feared each other as much as they hated and feared the US. Again this lie, the lie that we are fighting "terror" in Iraq, is directly related to the abuse at the prison, as these soldiers mistakenly believed that what they were doing was a part of "protecting America against terrorism." Total BS: the US-Iraq war clearly makes the world much more dangerous for Americans with respect to Jihadist or Islamic terrorism. The focus Bush and Co. put on secular Saddam blurs what should be a focus on Jihadists.

Al Qaeda has wanted regime change in Iraq (and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc.) for decades. So the US has at least twice had common interests with Bin Laden: Afghanistan and Iraq. If we follow Bush's logic of guilt-by-association, doesn't this make us guilty of terrorism? Here's a dangerous thought: if we wanted to bring the "war on terror" to the middle east, then Saudi Arabia--home of 15 of the hijackers, and home of the state-sponsored form of Jihadist Islam, Wahhabism, which all of the hijackers and Bin Laden followed--would seem a more likely target. Not that I would support such a war either. Bush and Co., however, are too entangled with Saudi oil not to protect Saudi Arabia from such a simple (and simplistic) conclusion (see House of Bush, House of Saud, by Craig Unger). Why the media doesn't investigate the Saudi-Bush connection, the Saudi Jihadists of the Wahhabi faith and their state-sponsored dissemination of their Jihadism (see Doran), and the connection of all this to 9/11, I cannot for the life of me figure out.

Generally speaking, a "war on terror" is a stupid and untenable idea, one that fits in with W's simplistic world view (Good/Evil, Freedom/"Terra"), a world view he is unfortunately succeeding at selling with the help of greedy media conglomerates with editors who certainly know better, or should. His ulterior motive of toppling Iraq (revenge for Father's loss to Clinton, oil grab, and I don't know what else compels him to sacrifice so many lives -- but certainly not democracy in the ME) is also being sold as connected to this war on terror. How this bunch of single-minded "neo-cons" gets away with all of this is amazing to me. More terrifying and tragic than amazing, really.

Hopefully this will be the beginning of the end of the "neo-con" oligarchy ... but don't hold your breath. Forty-five percent of the US population seem intent on following this or some similar type of "evil" weirdness. We seem to be living during a time when denial and extreme ideology is still as much a part of the American scene as when we killed millions of southeast Asians to protect them from communism. If I were religious, I'd ask God to help us, and protect the rest of the world from our weirdnesses. But I'm not, so I just write really long posts to vent.

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