Abu Gharib – a product of the "War on Terror"
The picture clearly demonstrates the mindset of the American forces before the combat operation began; the US had intended to literally ‘screw’ Iraq from the very beginning. As the obscene pictures depicting sexual abuse, torture and execution of the Iraqi prisoners continues to surface it only confirms the scale of the horror, obscenity, deceit, arrogance and the sheer hypocrisy of this war!
Then the US has the gall to expect the Arabs/Muslims to condemn the human rights violation of Saddam Hussein’s regime but simultaneously expects the US forces to be excused for the same behaviour! Furthermore, one of the justifications for the carnage in Iraq was Saddam’s violation of human rights, but yet it was the US that has been doing the real violation and much more en masse!
It is ironic that Bush finds himself somehow compelled to apologise to the Arab world for the obscene pictures but not for the wanton mass murder of the Iraqis as a whole. Only few weeks ago Fallujah was being levelled and one can still smell the stench from the mass graves of women, children and the old. Besides, apologies mean very little without actual compensation. If real justice is to be done, then logic dictates that the matter should be decided in an Iraqi court as these crimes were committed against the Iraqi citizens in their own country. Even a relatively neutral third party as an arbiter over the matter would have been fairer but not according to the human ‘rights’ crusaders of Bush and Rumsfeld.
The more likely scenario is that the US authorities will investigate and judge the matter eventually. Which is a travesty of justice from the onset as the party belonging to the perpetrators of the crimes cannot rationally undertake the role of an impartial judge. When and if any compensation(s) are ever awarded one can be certain that it will be far less than the compensations awarded to the victims of 9/11 or Lockerbie. Just examine the puny damages that is being given and assessed by the US authorities for those Iraqi victims that the US has acknowledged.
Surely, according to the notion of ‘human’ rights, all human lives are equal, thus the compensation should be equal. On the other hand perhaps the US administration subscribes to the theory of Darwin, and only the US, European and of course the chosen people of Israel have reached the apex of the evolution scale and qualify as fully evolved human beings! So the Hollywood churns out Charlton Heston followed by Mark Wahlberg rather than the likes of Sidney Poitier or Denzil Washington representing the human race against the apes.
As they say "action speaks louder than words", so instead of constantly ranting on about ‘human rights’ violation the Western intelligentsia for once can demonstrate their adherence to the principle practically, after being caught red-handed in Iraq. Releasing and compensating adequately all the prisoners held in captivity without charge would be a good starter. Only then Mr Bush’s apology can have any real meaning to the civilised world.
The countless number of independent reports since the fall of Baghdad in May 2003 coupled with these grotesque pictures clearly establishes that the US forces has been violating human rights in Iraq systematically and it is widespread. Therefore, it is only rational to assume that such practices of abuse, torture and execution could only have occurred with the knowledge or consent or active encouragement from the higher authorities to say the least. One can only guess how far this knowledge went up the ranks; possibly it even reaches the likes of Donald Rumsfeld.
Perhaps, this is why the Pentagon refused independent organisations and the mass media, free access to the prisons like Abu-Gharib and Guantanamo Bay. One can imagine what has not been reported or caught on camera. In addition, the US army has a track record for exhibiting such barbaric behaviour. During the war in Afghanistan the US army in collusion with the Northern Alliance executed thousands of Taliban soldiers in the fort of Qala-i-Jhangi and Mazar-e-Sherif.
So, considering all the above points how does Mr. Bush expect the Arabs/Muslims to view these revolting pictures as representative of a handful of individuals? Besides, those individuals regardless of their numbers were representing the US army in its entirety. If Iraqi nation can be punished for the actions of its unelected leader, then by greater reasoning the entire US army as part of a democratic nation should be punished and held responsible.
The media spin of majority and minority has once again surfaced to justify these revolting pictures depicting the US war crimes. When Saddam’s statue was toppled only a handful of ‘Iraqis’ turned up to celebrate, the media remained quiet about the issue of the vast majority of Iraqis remaining at home. That notion did not creep up until the Iraqi resistance began to bite like ants at the American elephant. The resistance was portrayed as a minority but no gallop poll was conducted to verify their claims.
Similarly Colin Powell says only a "small number" of US troops have been involved with regards to the sexual abuse, torture and executions at Abu-Gharib prison. This is coming from the man who denied the US massacre of Vietnamese civilians including women, children and the old in the village of My Lai (pronounced, somewhat ironically, "me lie"). It seems that Mr Powell expects the crimes of the ‘minority’ to be overlooked just like when the US as the minority nation constantly defends Israeli crimes at the UN by the exercising of its veto powers.
In addition, Mr Powell argued in tune with the latest media spin that Saddam’s conduct was much worse than the US soldiers. At least there is an acknowledgement by Mr Powell that the US forces has a similar track record to Saddam Hussein! Therefore, the ‘logic’ is the Islamic world should be grateful as the US forces have committed fewer murders, torture and abuse than Saddam. Who can really verify or measure the crimes of the US regime and Saddam? Are they inseparable in the first place considering their strong relationship in the past?
Let us now examine the opposite side - treatment of the prisoners by the ‘uncivilised’ world. The prisoners taken by the Taliban (e.g. Yvonne Ridley who subsequently embraced Islam after being released) and Saddam Hussein (e.g. Jessica Lynch) were treated according to the laws and values of tolerant Islam and the hospitable culture of the Muslims, which exceeds the international standards governed by the Geneva Convention. The US doctors also confirmed that the US hostage Mark Hamill, who apparently escaped from captivity, was treated well whilst the US forces were incinerating women and children in Fallujah not to mention what was happening in the prison of Abu-Gharib. Under such circumstances a summery execution of Mark Hamill, perhaps burnt to death using Iraqi oil would have been easily justified!
Now, where are the usual anti-Islamic-secular-militant fanatics with their usual diatribes in newspaper columns (Kilroy-Silk, Thomas Friedman, Richard LittleJohn, David Aaronovitch etc) constantly taunting the Muslims about civilisation? Why have the neo-shylocks that have been feeding on the on the Iraqi flesh gone so quiet?
So, what was the war about? Was it really about locating Saddam’s WMD? Or was it to bring Democracy to Iraq and the region by removing the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein? Let us not forget the religious dimension of this war, according to the Christian fundamentalists like George Bush, Karl Rover, John Ashcroft, and General William Bonkers embedded within the US State department and the Pentagon, believed that ‘Prophet’ George Bush was leading a Christian army, on a mission endorsed by GOD Almighty. Such types of religious fanaticism are barely noticed by the militant secular fanatics. The US army in reality resembles the army of the Roman emperor replicating their brutality and perversion, just like the medieval crusaders of Europe.
One of the unmentioned reasons for the war was that, it was a response to 9/11 against the Islamic world. The US wanted to demonstrate its power by inflicting casualties and humiliation on a scale that would dwarf 9/11. Therefore the pictures were released deliberately to drive the point home of its ability to humiliate the Arabs/Muslims.
The US has exerted a lot of power over the media in terms of what can or cannot be broadcasted; it has even resorted to killing journalists openly. Therefore, the pictures televised by the CBS had a clear explicit or an implicit approval from the US administration. Thus, it was part and parcel of that response to 9/11 and its war on terror. As the pictures clearly reveal, the US "war on terror" is a "war of terror".
Yamin Zakaria, London
to the PRINT edition NOW: Get the COMPLETE picture
pages choke-full of news, views & analysis on the Muslim scene in India & abroad...
Delivered at your doorstep, Twice a month
Indian Muslim News