The Nation, October 28, 2010
The evil side of America
The graphic details of the torture and abuse on the people confirm that this is the worst genocide of recent times
By Azam Khalil
“An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie; for an excuse is a lie guarded.”– Pope
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange
Several high-ranking officials in the Obama administration are once again trying desperately to minimise the damage done to America by WikiLeaks, a website that released nearly 400,000 classified US military documents on the Iraq war. Without a doubt, everyone believed Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, when he declared that his website had only tried to reveal the truth about USA’s war in Iraq. While speaking at a news conference in London, Assange said: “The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends.”
Besides detailing the evil side of the US from 2004 to 2009, the documents also highlighted the “abuse of Iraqi civilians by Iraqi security forces” in collaboration with the Americans. The graphic details of the torture and abuse on the people confirm that this is the worst genocide of recent times. However, the US administration had repeatedly denied the allegations against its forces of torturing innocent civilians in Iraq — which began in 2003 after America invaded the country, apparently to remove the dictator, Saddam Hussein, but in reality to capture the oil wells so as to prop up its economy that was moving swiftly towards recession — till the WikiLeaks disclosures.
According to reports, the worst atrocities were committed by the US forces at the checkpoints that were spread throughout Iraq, where even women and children were not spared. On several occasions, they were not only mercilessly beaten, but also killed. Thus, the recent leaks disclose that 109,032 people have died in Iraq, including 66,081 civilians. It is a well established fact now, that a majority of the people killed in Iraq were civilians – all innocent – and not members of Saddam’s army, as was incorrectly asserted by the US administration. More so, the details provided by the US officials about the war failed to pinpoint the deaths of 15,000 civilians, which are now exposed by WikiLeaks.
Earlier, Pentagon had claimed that only 77,000 Iraqis died from 2004 to mid-2008; however, subsequent investigations proved that the facts presented were not reliable, as the list contained certain names which had appeared more than once on the list released by the US military. In other details, it has also been established that nearly 285,000 people were either killed or wounded during this period by the US forces. The documents also proved that 681 Iraqi civilians were killed at checkpoints that were exclusively manned by units of the foreign army.
Beyond this, 180,000 Iraqis were arrested during the war on various charges that were never proved, while 15,000 Iraqis were buried without being identified by the US officials.
But what has further disturbed the US administration than the release of these documents, is the declaration made by WikiLeaks spokesman, Kristinn Hrafnsson, that the website will soon release another 15,000 secret files on the war in Afghanistan.
The website had already released 92,000 documents on the Afghan war in July, which caused an international uproar and severely damaged the credibility of the US government. The leaks on Afghanistan proved that the US was not only involved in serious human rights violation in the war-torn country, but it had also violated the Geneva Accord that stipulates the behaviour of armies, who capture “prisoners during the course of operations.” So the US administration and military in order to sidestep these violations, where civilians were arrested on mere suspicion, coined the term “enemy combatant” in an effort to hoodwink the international community.
Also, it is unfortunate that the US has detained hundreds of civilians without providing them an opportunity to defend themselves, which is clearly in violation of the basic principles enshrined in the US Constitution. One has to wait and see how the American judicial system will react to these excesses that are being brazenly committed by its armed forces acting on the orders of the civilian authority. It is hoped that in the coming days and months, the international community will realise its responsibility and not only reprimand the US administration, but will also ensure that all these violations are stopped by the US-NATO forces presently deployed both in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Coming on the heels of the WikiLeaks disclosures, it is very strange that the US has demanded that Pakistan should allow a further expansion of the CIA units, which are engaged in the ‘hot pursuit’ of militants on the Pak-Afghan border. It is time that the US realises that the people of Pakistan are already angry at the collateral damage they are suffering on their own soil, due to the drone attacks that have increased in recent days. It is, therefore, not a legitimate request and one hopes that the Pakistani leadership, both civil and military, will carefully analyse the situation before they take a decision on the issue.
Further, there are reports that the CIA operating inside Afghanistan have been trigger-happy and, thus, have committed the worst human rights violations that would pale what happened in Iraq and elsewhere, in case the entire adventure of these elements is also exposed.
Washington’s decision to attach strings to the military and economic assistance to Pakistan for its efforts in the ongoing war, as well as the extravagant demands that have now surfaced after the recently concluded Pak-US Strategic Dialogue, is not a good omen for a sustained relationship between the two countries. While the US has never been fair in its dealings with anyone in the world, the time may have come when the Pakistani government evolves a political consensus within the country on its relations with America, and makes it clear as to what is acceptable and what it is.
Pakistan, nevertheless, has already paid a heavy price for what is going on in Afghanistan and has spent nearly $53 billion out of its own limited resources, as it still caters to about three million Afghan refugees, who should actually be the responsibility of all those who had created the mess in the country. Hopefully, it is expected that Pakistan will redefine its foreign policy keeping in view the short-term and long-term interests of this country and will not accept any strings that may create problems for the people of Pakistan later on.
The writer is a freelance columnist.
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