Torture, values and lies
When the American and British governments declare that the systematic torture of Iraqi detainees is contrary to "our values" and is the work of a few rogue elements among the military, they only add another layer to the mountain of lies and hypocrisy that have accompanied their illegal war and occupation.
The torture at Abu Ghraib and other centres was systematic and began almost as soon as the Saddam Hussein regime was overthrown. This is clear from the Red Cross reports that have now become public. That being the case, it is inconceivable this organised torture was the work of a few elements. There was a chain of command that stretches all the way up to the Pentagon and Donald Rumsfeld.
In any case, the techniques used are commonplace in both the US and British military and are taught to members of the so-called special services. Abu Ghraib is no exception but part of a long history of brutality. In Vietnam, US forces tortured and killed thousands of prisoners. They threw Vietnamese fighters out of helicopters and kept them in cages. US "specialists" have trained torturers and death squads throughout Central and South America. Systematic torture and assassinations by British forces were commonplace in the north of Ireland.
the torturers have taken their cue from the racist regimes that sent them
in the first place. Barely distinguished from the Crusades of the Middle
Ages in ideology, the armies were supposedly on a mission to "civilise"
an inferior people (never mind that their civilisation predates Europe
and North America by many centuries). The same civilising missions were
carried out against native Indians in the US and colonial peoples under
the British empire and are the social roots of racism today. Add to all
this that American troops were given the lie that the Iraqis were behind
the September 11 attacks and it is not difficult to see how torture of
detainees becomes commonplace.
Secondly, it is not possible to hide for ever the venality of the George W. Bush presidency from the American people, who are beginning to realise the systematic lying and corruption at the heart of the White House. The democratic ideals and values ordinary Americans aspire to stand in stark contrast to the nature of the Bush regime. The Pentagon knew about the torture six months ago and conducted a massive cover-up. This is the principal reason why Congress is angry. It was kept in the dark despite voting through countless billions for the war. In effect, Rumsfeld and the military had conducted a putative coup against both Congress and the White House under the cover of the spurious "war on terror".
In Britain too, the "values" promoted by Blair and the New Labour regime are not shared by the majority of the population. They opposed the invasion and are angered by the deceptions, half-truths and state propaganda over the issue of WMD. Just as in the US, the British government bases itself on the power of the corporations and the spy agencies. In fact, New Labour and the spooks are virtually indistinguishable from each other. John Scarlett, who as head of the Joint Intelligence Committee sanctioned the infamous WMD dossier, was characterised as "my mate" by Alistair Campbell when he was Blair's spokesman. Scarlett's reward for total loyalty to Blair is to be made the new head of MI6.
The political crisis in Washington and London, driven on by the impossible task of trying to run Iraq through a combination of stooges and armed force, is testimony to the weakness of the Bush/Blair regimes. What seemed all-powerful and all-conquering to those bemused by the appearance of things, in fact has feet of clay. Corporate-led globalisation has resulted in economies based on intense exploitation, immense amounts of credit and wholesale ecological abuse. It has also undermined the legitimacy and authority of governments and traditional parties which defend the status quo. Working for regime change in Washington and London, with the aim of creating a truly democratic society based on economic co-operation, popular ownership and control, is the way to give our values real meaning.
for a Socialist Future