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17/01/05

Abu-Ghraib Trial: A Means to Legitimize the Real War Crimes by Yamin Zakaria


“Kill a man, you are a murderer. Kill millions, you are a conqueror.” (Adolf Hitler)

If one were to substitute the word “conqueror” with “democracy” and the word “murderer” with “terrorist” that would render Adolf Hitler’s statements relevant to the current political situation. The 100,000 or more Iraqis murdered have been written off as “collateral damage” and this price, paid in blood was for the ‘privilege’ of having the US forces dictating ‘democracy’ also known as ‘liberation’. The bloodbath is not described as murder or genocide or terrorism (state terrorism) but the non evocative term of “collateral damage”. Such technical terms helps to lighten the guilt making it more palatable for the masses to accept it as a byproduct of the US foreign policy.

The recent media focus on the trial of Charles Garner for his role in the Abu-Ghraib ‘abuse’ has also contributed towards that process of lightening the guilt as the focus on the trial means everything else concerning Iraq is marginalized. But more importantly the trial implies that the only illegal actions committed by the US forces was inside those horror chambers but everything else that has happened outside was and is somehow legal! In fact, Abu-Ghraib and the likes are a direct consequence of the initial and the central crime of attacking Iraq.

The media manipulations with the words employed to describe the entire episode of Abu-Ghraib are obvious. It has been described as ‘abuse’ but not torture or terrorism; reports describe “soldiers had sex with prisoners” implying consensual sex as opposed to the reality of rape; there was the reference to the abuse of the dead bodies instead of admitting that the freedom loving US soldiers committed necrophilia! So many other things that have not been revealed and we will never know the full story as many of the victims are dead and not all the patriotic soldiers will speak out.

But who makes the decision in selecting the appropriate words in the media? Is it the objective and fair-minded reporters of Fox, CNN and BBC or the spin-doctors? What about the opinion of the victims those that are still alive? Has anybody asked the victims? Do they have a voice in this matter? Do they feel compensated by the flimsy punishment given out by the US show trials? What happened to the so-called empowering the Iraqi citizens with a voice in ‘free’ Iraq?

Whatever the US may think, the rest of the world sees this as another attempt by the US to erase its tarnished image, often exemplified by its trigger-happy and brutal soldiers caught many a times on camera committing all sorts of atrocities not just the ones from Abu-Ghraib. So, imagine what has not been caught on camera.

Similarly, this is exactly what the US soldiers are doing in Ache delivering food and medicine as they pose for pictures in Hollywood style. The very thought of exploiting poverty for self-propaganda brings about revulsion. Then it makes you want to vomit as the US claims of bringing ‘democracy’, in reality this is an after thought and used as an excuse by the strongest nation on earth attacking one of the weakest, then pillage its resources.

If the trial of Charles Garner was meant to show the world that the US is addressing injustice then surely the right thing would have been to do, is to hand over the soldiers to the Iraqis. And let the Iraqis decide the fate of those soldiers in accordance to their laws and values, since the crime was committed on their soil. Had the situation been reverse this is exactly what the US would have demanded.

These types of show trials are all a charade and used to score political points. Just like congressional grilling of Donald Rumsfeld was used by the US media and the Senators to brag about its democratic credential. The actual violation was trivial as compared to the subsequent charade of accounting or holding a trial. In reality, the trial of these few soldiers are simply to protect the real culprits at the top.

In the mean time as the election approaches in Iraq, some of the Iraqis have jumped on the US-led elections, allegedly the first step to transform Iraq into a democracy. In reality, the US candidates are sure to win and there are already signs of another Florida style election as ‘Iraqis’ from Israel, US and Europe will be voting. Who will be monitoring them? But, in any case, why democracy?  Was it not democracy that has just destroyed the country in the first place and created Abu-Ghraib and the likes throughout Iraq?

It is amazing that people have not yet grasped the simple fact: that the West is propelled not by principles but satisfying its interests. The interests are largely in the guise of company profit, expected from the ruling capitalist elites. As Lord Palmerston, the former British Prime Minister once said no nation has permanent enemies or friends except its interests. Yet many continue to be fooled by the US claims of its benevolence. Company profits and charitable institutions are on the opposite poles of the same stick. Democracy, human rights, freedom are simply a mask to cover its real motive. By incarcerating people, torturing, executing, invading and pillaging the US is in fact showing its true face, which is to further its causes by any means necessary as the interest is the only thing that matters to its ruling class.

As for democracy, in the absence of a holy book of democracy recognized by everyone how else can we measure democracy other than examine the actions of the leading democracies. Since democracy states that it is rule of the majority and the recent re-election of Bush surely confirms that the US citizens democratically endorsed the actions of Camp-X-ray, Abu-Ghraib to the genocide in Iraq as being right therefore they are all part and parcel of this democracy!

Yamin Zakaria

London, UK

Copyright 2005 by Yamin Zakaria.

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