It was revealed this past week that, on top of the indiscriminate bombardment of civilians in Iraqi urban areas, both U.S. and British soldiers have become involved in the torture of Iraqi prisoners as well. Ironically, the torture of prisoners by the U.S. military has been carried out in the very same Abu Ghraib Prison used by Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime. This not the first time that torture has been a central feature of U.S intervention. The war in Iraq shares parallels with both the Vietnam War a generation ago and the Spanish-American War a century earlier-massive civilian deaths and torture are characteristics of all three imperial interventions.
The U.S. adventure in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War resulted in the creation of The Anti-Imperialist League (the "antis"), in which a number of noted Americans, including former General/Senator Carl Schurz and Mark Twain, sought to draw attention to what the U.S. Army was doing in the Islands.
By 1902, the Senate, controlled by imperialists such as Henry Cabot Lodge, had initiated another of its often-feckless investigations into the conduct of a war. The "antis" developed a parallel investigation culminating in the publication of a small book, "Marked Severities": Secretary [of War Elihu] Root's Record in the Philippines. As it became clear, the "antis" would focus on atrocities. But some League members also cowered, such as Andrew Carnegie, who, no doubt concerned over losing possible business deals, withdrew the $5,000 he had promised to help with the investigation.
Calling attention to atrocities always causes the imperialists to drape themselves in the flag and denounce all such criticism as "unpatriotic."
The estimates of civilians killed in the Philippines range from 200,000 to a high of perhaps 600,000-no one really knows. This writer has seen pictures smuggled out by American soldiers of pits filled with the bodies of dozens of Filipinos. One soldier wrote of troops massacring an entire village of one thousand people after a villager had fired upon them.
The "water cure" was the approved torture of the day. With the mouth held open by a knife, a water hose was thrust down the victim's throat. Whether he talked or not, most often death came later from the infection of the stomach lesions caused by the water pressure. "Civilize 'em with a Krag" [rifle] was the U.S.'s great battle cry of the era.
The massive burning and killing of Vietnamese-including the whole village of My Lai-was much more publicized, of course, in the counterinsurgency in Vietnam. Again, total deaths are hard to estimate, but certainly well over one million Asians were killed. One American soldier, a member of the elite "Tiger Force" was reputed to have killed 1,500 Vietnamese by himself, although the Pentagon has declined to follow up on that newly released data.
The Pentagon was even less willing to follow up on allegations of torture in Vietnam. For centuries, Chinese officials have employed Koreans to carry out torture, and the U.S. often used them in that capacity in Vietnam. A common method was to jab wire through the hands and tie them together. The person was then pushed out the door of a flying helicopter if he refused to talk. The U.S. also relied on its South Vietnamese ally for torturing, and prisoners were kept in so-called "Tiger cages."
Now, of course, in Iraq, we are repeating the "shock and awe," kill-civilians-and-torture-the-enemy tactics of the U.S.'s earlier imperial interventions. Human rights groups estimate that more than 10,000 civilians have been killed so far, and the account of those tortured is only now beginning to emerge. The U.S. once stood as a beacon of liberty and moral responsibility in the world. That reputation is now being squandered for the power and glory of Empire.
It is unclear how this will ever result in "winning the hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people. I recall an interview in Vietnam where an American officer admitted that the U.S. had lost the trust of the current generation of Vietnamese because of its tactics, but that we would somehow win over the next generation. I wondered who he thought would father this new generation. Even conservative General William E. Odom now acknowledges we have lost legitimacy in Iraq, and, with other influential military professionals, warned against the adventure in the first place.
One thing is certain, just as President William McKinley's Secretary of War, Elihu Root, could concoct these policies for the Philippines, and good 'ol "fog of war" Robert McNamara could do so for Vietnam, they would never personally be involved in such killings and torture-leave that to the soldiers in the field! The same goes for Bush and Cheney today, both of whom appear to be in "plausible denial."
What a century of this imperialism has done to Americans is not apt to be mentioned by those who glorify empire such as Niall Ferguson or William Kristol. Perhaps these are the people who ought to be the ones trained to do the torturing for the greater glories of the Empire!
To talk about the Philippines as a "great aberration," as the historian Samuel Flagg Bemis once did, is errant nonsense. The U.S.'s imperial policies, and especially the "national security" bureaucracies and military forces that carry them out, have been developing for at least a century now. They were not disbanded after Vietnam, and without a major sea change in opinion, the frustrations of Iraq are not likely to cause them to be dismantled in the future.
It would be wise to remember that the dictator-in reality already emperor-Julius Caesar was heavily backed by what one might call the military-industrial-university complex of Ancient Rome. They used "private contractors" then too, and the missile weapon of mass destruction was the catapult, as seen in the opening scenes of Gladiator. Someone certainly had the lucrative insider contracts to supply those weapons!
It will be interesting to see how the issues of torture and civilian deaths develop given George W. Bush's fundamentalist fanaticism. It is important to remember that the old definition of a fanatic is someone who redoubles his effort when he has lost sight of his goal.
William Marina is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif., and Professor Emeritus of History at Florida Atlantic University.
I can go on further than you, and talk about more American democracy and freedom, and the right to a fair and just trial, the oportunity to be deemed innocent unless proven guily, but unfortunately there are more torture cases which have been documented in Afghanistan but not aired by the mass media - or how about Guantanamo Bay "unlawful combatants" as they are called so that America can avoid criticism from the International Court and also from U.S. courts because they are not labeled as P.O.W.'s...what about this...they are being treated worse than the DOGS of the U.S. Military at Guantanamo. Maybe you should ask for condemnation there...go to Israeli prisons and see the torture endured by thousands of Palestinian prisoners but no one likes to hear about that do they? Go read Chechen News about how the people of Sheeshan/Chechnya are being mamed and raped by Soviet Forces. Do you not see a similar pattern here, how hard is it for you to see that MUSLIMS are the main targets all over the world wherever you look? How every piece of news ever segment on the news one after the other has something to do with painting a negative picture about Muslims?
When will you wake up from your American dream Akron?
"Of course not...if you are a jew then you are obviously blind to these things."
I wish you and your alter-ego Nick would stop with the "but at least this country is standing up for what is right and good" claptrap. Everyone reading your posts can read between the lines and knows you actually support the torture of Muslims. Face it, torture has been part of the the Judaeo-Christian ethic from Christ's crucifiction, to the time of the Crusades, and has repeatedly manifested itself in modern times in the Philippines, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Palestine, Guantanamo, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Iran (under the CIAs Shah), Iraq (under the CIAs Saddam), etc, etc, etc.
Nobody believes you anymore when you say, "But unlike those countries, America is demonstrating that it can take responsibility for human rights abuses occuring in its jurisdiction." This is getting old. Give it up, pal. America keeps invading/intervening in other people's countries and then keeps "taking responsibility for human rights abuses". This self-denial is sociopathic, get help.
the abuses have been known for months and were not acknowledged by the US government until a brave soldier leaked the pictures to the media. Human rights organizations, the red cross and aid organizations have been complaining about abuses without any coverage and cooperation from the government and the media. If it wasn't for the soldier who showed the pictures to the media, those abuses would have been going on. As a matter of fact, the soldier said that military superiors requested all those pictures to be handed to them because they were worried they could reach the media. He said he had to hide them. Read Seymour Hersh's article.
The justice you are talking about has been forced on them because of the international embarassment those pictures have caused. There have been reports of worst tortures in Afghanistan for the past two years and there has been no prosecution against the perpetrators. As long as there are no pictures, things are not going to change in Afghanistan.
As to the Arab regimes' torture of prisoners, why don't you ask your representatives to stop helping those dictatorship who would have been deposed if it wasn't for the US's protection over them? Any resistance against those regimes is futile because they have to face the world's super power the US. America calls the shots, what America says goes.
For the first time in 1953 the popular prime minister in Iran was ousted by CIA. After that other countries had the same destiny. In Chile Salvador Alende who was legally elected by the people was murdered in 1973. Ever since the world war II CIA has openly and secretly supported the most brutal dictatorships in the world and provided them with the worst torture equipment such as the egg machine and semi suffocation chamber. However, up to now they always blamed "the others" for these actions and every year the US government leading the western countries passed resolution after resolution against the governments it did not like in the united nations for human right abuses. But now the sun is up in the sky and shining and clearly shows how the US soldiers are torturing and raping women and men in an illegally occupied land in the name of exporting democracy. In less than a year more than 25 people have been killed by torture in Iraq and Afghanistan and thousands of other civilians with no voice are beaten and sexually humiliated. Isn't it the time to stop the propaganda machine of democracy and see that we are no better than "Others"?!
It is time now to pass a resolution to condemn this government against the human right abuses and tell the world that empty words are only valuable for those who are in the Capitol Hill.
Well if you had bothered to read, I clearly made sure that I do not put ALL Americans to blame. That is what YOU are saying also. So, we ARE united on this issue.
I also agree with you that Muslims (NOT ISLAM) has to learn things from the West (just like the West can learn things from ISLAM), but I was saying that this is not the forum to discuss those issues.
Do you understand my point now?
Regarding the supposed "Letters of Reprimand", yes some of our soldiers are getting that. But again, so what? Do any of you personally know what those particular soldiers are guilty of? For all you know, those particular reprimanded soldiers did very little wrong.
Yes, criminal acts seem to have taken place, but not all of the soldiers are getting off with a mere reprimand. AT LEAST SIX SOLDIERS, who are believed to have been directly involved, are about to be FORMALLY CHARGED with crimes.
In any event, it does not seem that it will end with this. A number of Senators are looking to make heads roll over this issue, and before it's all over they might get their wish.
Human rights abuses occur all over the world, particularly in countries that are the West's most vocal critics. But unlike those countries, America is demonstrating that it can take responsibility for human rights abuses occuring in its jurisdiction. And ut is proving that it can do it without pressure from an impotent interational governing body like the UN. Indeed, I truly believe that this is an important lesson for all countries to learn.
Several options that people feel are available have their drawbacks. Checks and balances (as Americans feel they have in thier gov't) are nonexistant when those forces decide to ally themselves. Supervisory or police forces may help watch people in power, but who are the people to supervise or police those that have supervisory or police duties?
I also have problems with gov't bieng run by those that consider themselves "men of God." What is to say that particular human bieng knows what is right (outside the religous belief that they are doing the Lord's will).
I guess the main thing I have to say is that we all need to look at the problems with each power structure (be it a prison administration or a country's gov't) and find ways to remove the possibility of corruption from occuring. New problems may result, but hopefully we can try to do the best we can with humanity's limited capabilities to fight these problems or prevent them from occuring. Are there any solutions other than punishing others for past deeds?
"Wonder why the Muslim world did'nt uproar when Saddam did this to Shia's."
we did but most were put in prison and the Human Rights have dossiers on that. so stop saying stuff that is not true.
You obviously do not live in the ME and are totally out of date with what happens here. A diet of Western news has influenced your views. There are many who criticise Iran and put in prisons. At least the newspapers there relect all that. Plus Iran has not invaded any other nation and they do what they do to themselves unlike the US where they have bases in over 100 locations worldwide. and stop bringing stuff that belongs to thousand and hundred years of history else we will not get anywhere. plus accounts of such history is almost entirely dependant on who wrote it. as we know even early history of palestine depends on which account you read! ask yourself this question. what islamic nation sent its troops to another foreign land in the last 200 years in the name of Allah? and don't mention the Ottomans for I do not consider them Muslims. yet we see from the potugese to the Brits and the US troops today either occupying or have plans to occupy Islamic countries. They have a real fear, yet unfounded fear, from Islamic expansion. They side with extreme ziponists yet vehmently fight even moderate muslims. and we all know who are behind such designs. do a little reading yourself please and perhaps from some recent arab news to get a little more balance view of what goes on today in ME not 100 years ago. There are many of us who criticise our own.
I bow down to you and you have my utter respect sir for like myself you have no qualms about critcising your own. God bless those who speak the truth.
My mum cooked for US GI's in ME long before anyone knew of ME. Sure there are those good ones but most are sleep and that is why we are in such a miss. Not enough good ones speak. Time to break the silence and stand with truth nom
If this bothers you, then forget for a moment that Americans are self-critical. Just focus on the idea that the Muslim world can become stronger by remaining self-critical.
There's nothing wrong with learning from other people's mistakes. Our government clearly goofed in Iraq. So why is it so bad for Muslims to learn from that?
Now then, America's presidential administrations (past and present) have not seemed overly inclined to build nations capable of defending themselves - without major commitments on the part of America's armed forces. To that end, any "patently incompetent" government that American administrators might hope to install in Iraq would seem highly likely to require considerable defending on the part of America's armed forces.
But do not despair. By the time America's armed forces leave Iraq insha'Allah there will be in Iraq a well-organized fighting force, eminently qualified to employ whatever technology America leaves behind for the defense of democracy in the Middle East. As always, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) is the best of planners. In addition, if it is part of Allah's plan that Americans profit by Allah's planning then so much the better for Americans.
Even back in July 2002 the US tried to BLOCK a UN resolution for preventing the torture of prisoners. The resolution passed anyway, but the US said it would not abide by it.
Also in this article, the US refused to sign on to the International Criminal Court (ICC) because, "It does not want the ICC to have jurisdiction over US soldiers deployed abroad, fearing troops could face malicious accusations of war crimes."
In light of the recent revelations it's a good thing they didn't sign this thing, huh? Instead, these scumbag troops and officers will get "Letters of Reprimand" from the same government that officially blocks international attempts to stop torture and to hold individuals accountable for war crimes. BTW, Israel also opposed this resolution since it actually has laws (regularly used) that allow the torture of prisoners.
So, whereas people like you claim "We Americans have no qualms with looking at ourselves in the mirror when things like this happen. It's this willingness to remain self-critical that keeps our country strong. This is an important lesson that the Muslim world needs to learn." - The government representing the people of the United States actually operates on a different policy altogether.
If you are going to add insult to injury by being condescending towards Muslims, at least acquaint yourself with the facts before you speak.
Just once when I thought that perhaps you and I and almost everyone on this forum will unite, you again delve into "the Muslims must learn from America" rhetoric.
Come on man, this is just not the place for this OK?
1. It was an American serviceperson that blew the whistle on the story.
2. It was an American news network that broadcast the story.
3. The American people as well as those in charge strongly condemn this behavior.
We Americans have no qualms with looking at ourselves in the mirror when things like this happen. It's this willingness to remain self-critical that keeps our country strong. This is an important lesson that the Muslim world needs to learn.
And you all will note that I haven't tried to excuse this behavior by blaming the Palestinians or Osama bin Ladin. Another lesson for the Muslim world to learn.
Now that I have clarified this issue, we can put the matter to rest.
Americans are merely practicing what they had been teaching others all these years.
Please visit this site to see a glimpse of how they have liberated the women of Iraq.
(Caution: The photos are very disturbing)
Wonder why the Muslim world did'nt uproar when Saddam did this to Shia's.
Clearly, these atrocities should not go unpunished. But who exactly is to be punished? Well, (according to a few) not the thumbs-up giving, smiley soldiers. Oh no. How can any patriotic American say that? I mean, these people carried out these tortures as "national security", presumably because they had evidence that Iraq was imminently going to attack America/Israel with its umpteen number of weapons of mass destruction. So no, you cannot blame these innocent peace loving soldiers.
Here is a quote from the wife of one of the soldiers in the picture,
"He was told to do these things and when he did them he thought that he was doing them in the sense of national security,"
Are you telling me that these soldiers do NOT have FREEDOM? The FREEDOM to not follow orders or bring this up as an issue to their superiors (just like one US soldier did by submitting these photos?)? Perhaps this is the FREEDOM they want to bring the Iraqis (or should I say stick down the throats of the Iraqis).
What truly upsets me is the fact that these pictures happened to make it to the surface. What about the non-pictured events happening "deep underground"? Guantanamo Bay?
If you are an American, please realize something. I am not lashing out against you. Please don't think that. There are as many (if not more) Americans who share my view, and who support the Iraqis...this is for all those "blind" Americans (such as the US ADMIN/PENTAGON/etc).
It would be really stupid on my part or the part of any others to lash out on ALL Americans - as it is these same people who brought us these pictures afterall, and other things like Amnesty, IraqiBodyCount, etc.
When will this madness end?
Let the revolution begin, the sleeping giant called the Islamic Ummah awakens. What the Americans did to Muslims in Iraq is worse than anyhting that happened on 9/11. Reprimands and discharges will not heal this wound.
God is Great!
OR EARLIER IN THE PHILIPINES. WHY IS THERE NO MENTION ABOUT THE 1,400 YEARS OF ISLAMIC SLAVERY, GENOCIDE, VIOLENCE AND PLUNDER?? JUST TAKE THE CASE OF IRAN TODAY. AS A RESULT OF ISLAMIC INVASION OF PERSIA, IRAN TODAY IS A BACKWARD ISLAMIC NATION AND ITS AYATOLLAHS ARE STRUGGLING
TO PREVENT THE EMRGENCE OF DEMOCRACY AT ALL COSTS.
WHY IS THE WHOLE WORLD SHEDDING CROCODILE TEARS
OVER THE SO-CALLED BRUTAL TREATMENT OF IRAQI PRISONERS WHILE THE WORLD COMPLETELY IGNORED THE THIRTY YEARS PLUS OF SADDAM HUSSEIN'S GENOCIDAL REIGN AND STALINIST OPPRESSION NOT TO SPEAK OF HIS 8 YEAR WAR WITH IRAN. OH YES, RECENTLY IRAN CRITICIZED THE BRUTAL TREATMENT OF IRAQI PRISONERS
(WHO WOULD HAVE KILLED AMERICANS IF THEY COULD)
CONVENIENTLY FORGETS THAT IRAN'S OWN REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS BLINDFOLDED AND HIJACKED
AMERICAN DIPLOMATS AND HELD THEM FOR SEVERAL WEEKS. NOT AN ARAB PROTESTED THIS. IS ALL THIS ONE-SIDED CRITICISM OF AMERICA HELPING TO IMPROVE THE SITUATION. OBVIOUSLY NOT. IS IT ANY WONDER THAT AMERICA SIMPLY THINKS ITS A CONSPIRACY OF LOSERS HELL-BENT ON HUMILIATING AMERICA. WHY IS TRUTH BECOMING A VICTIM ON SUCH A GLOBAL SCALE.
IF WE TALK ABOUT AMERICA'S SO-CALLED MISDEEDS, HOW ABOUT OPENING THE HISTORY BOOKS AND BEGINNING WITH THE VIOLENCE AND PLUNDER IN THE NAME OF ISLAM. LET'S BEGIN WITH THE BATTLE OF CLAVIJO IN SPAIN IN 844 WHEN MUSLIMS SOUGHT TO OCCUPY SPAIN.
LET'S END THE LIES, THE DISTORTION OF TRUTH, THE ONE-SIDED CRITICISM. MAYBE THEN WE WILL REALIZE
WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON IN THE PRESENT WORLD.
"General William E. Odom now acknowledges we have lost legitimacy in Iraq."
This invasion was not ligitimate in the first place. It remains an illegal entry by force and US domination with the coerced little countries, bribed along with the other imperialist has-been Britian to force their designs on a weak nation after stabbing it for more than a decade like a matador stabs at a bull before the final kill. They are at it again with Syria. the new law passed by Bush gives America to set the sanction first before the final kill. All to make it safe for Israel to have 'a peaceful existance' with its 'neighbours'.
Like always as the writer points out. The issue is huge but only small heads will roll. Little soldiers get it but this is the tip of the iceberg ordered by the big chief and goes as hi as Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld themselves. Surely Bremer is in charge and knows full bloody well of what goes on in his own backyard. But the Zionists have put in their orders and the thugs must obey.
The whole US army is made up mostly of volunteers who can not find any decent career except joining the army. They are the addicts, juvenile dellenquents, criminals and petty theives who look for self glorification in the army. Those are "our boy" who we should be proud of! Well if my boy behaved like that, I'd soon disown him. But the average American is brought up on a diet of Holywood movies - bankrolled by the Zionists - Rambo in style with villified Muslims/Arabs - so, he has already got the perfect upbringing to be a thug and don't expect them to respect any Geneve Convention or human rights. But the bosses know who they are recruiting - a bunch of New York Gangs, just like the movie. They are the decendants of those who hunted the native Americans and burnt them alive. It must be in the genes!! What else can we expect from them? A beacon of light unto nations? Give me another joke please.
On that note, this particular war seems destined to become the SECOND military victory (in Iraq) that America has squandered, in barely more than a decade. Say whatever you want to say about the Taliban, at least the Taliban were known to execute Taliban soldiers found guilty of homosexual activity. What would America's "homophobic" military say to that? In contrast, America's "military justice" system appears to take heterosexual indiscretion, at least when committed by Muslim officers, very seriously indeed.
Considering the effect that America's abuse of POWs, America's pursuit of recalcitrant Shiites and America's siege of Falluja seem likely to have on the average Iraqi's willingness to cooperate with American authorities, I would imagine it is now time for America to bring its troops safely home. Afterwards, Americans might wish to consider paying the Iraqis directly, to repair damage caused by America's actions in Iraq - to whatever extent it might be possible to repair such damage. Given the absence of WMD and given the lack of a military threat posed by Iraq, footing the bill for repairing the damage would appear be the extent of America's legitimate authority.
I suspect the "conversion" isn't the same and the latest high religious officer would probably contradict the earlier one, but one has to wonder if the same attitude is still in force. If the Iraqis can't be converted then they are slaughtered or enslaved at will.
Clearly the Bush Administrations unwillingness to count the number of Iraqi dead indicates an unwillingness to manage (preferably to minimize) the activities that cause deaths by the occupiers (a title the US fought for in the UN). One can not effectively manage what one is unwilling to measure.
One also should realize the US ran (and probably still does though they deny it) a school of torture on a military base in north Georgia for decades. Combine this with the US attempts to prevent Americans from being tried for crimes against humanity and its attempts to skirt its own and international laws regarding human rights and a pattern of actions emerges.
Shameful and despicable and if not actively promoted at the higher levels at least not actively demoted.