Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Fuck Iraq, part III

Remember our hopes for Iraq? That by getting rid of Saddam, Bush's crusade would lead to a democratic "beacon of freedom" which would inspire change throughout the Middle East? Or that it would at least end Saddam's reign of torture and murder, and give Iraqis a government which respected fundamental human rights? Even those of us who opposed the war believed that these would be good results; some of us disagreed on the scale of costs and benefits, some on whether the same result could not be achieved by other means, some on whether those results could be achieved by force at all, and some on the terrible precedent it set in international law - but I don't think anyone seriously argued that it would be a Bad Thing if Iraq were a democracy or if Iraqis weren't tortured.

For me, those hopes were crippled the day panicked American soldiers mowed down a crowd of demonstrators in Fallujah, and died on reading in the Oregonian that US forces had discovered a torture facility run by their Iraqi allies - and were ordered to just walk away. The new boss was the same as the old boss; the US had overthrown Saddam, only to recreate him in a new guise.

The latest report from Human Rights Watch - The New Iraq? Torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Iraqi custody - is just the final nail in the coffin. In it, HRW details gross abuses by the Iraqi regime, including

systematic use of arbitrary arrest, prolonged pre-trial detention (up to four months in some cases) without judicial review, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, denial of access by families and lawyers to detainees, improper treatment of detained children, and abysmal conditions in pre-trial facilities.

This "torture and ill-treatment" includes:

...routine beatings to the body using cables, hosepipes and other implements. Detainees report kicking, slapping and punching; prolonged suspension from the wrists with the hands tied behind the back; electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body, including the earlobes and genitals; and being kept blindfolded and/or handcuffed continuously for several days. In several cases, the detainees suffered what may be permanent physical disability.

Hosepipes. Strapado. Electrodes to the genitals. As HRW says, "the people of Iraq were promised something better than this". Those who supported the war as a humanitarian intervention against torture ought to be asking themselves some pretty serious questions right now. Such as how this is better than what went on under Saddam (and whether it is 15,458 dead civilians or approximately 98,000 excess deaths better)? Or why, if torture justified using military force against Saddam, the same argument doesn't apply to the regime which replaced him? Or who the "supporters of torture" are now - the people who condemned Saddam while saying that force wasn't a good solution, or the people who look the other way at what their "humanitarian war" has wrought?

Sniping aside, it ought to be crystal clear to everyone now that the Iraqi regime does not deserve our support. No country which uses torture does, and that applies to Iraq's current crop of torturers as well as its past ones.


Feeling nosey I had to have a look at Goodview's blog to see why No Right Turn just didn't ring his bells. Talk about someone not being your target market...

He describes himself as a 60 year old very conservitive Super George Bush supporter and liberial hater. He lives in Goodview Virginia. On his site he posts pictures of all the deer he's shot...and there's even a picture of him on the back of his pick up truck...I thought people like this were a creation of Hollywood but it appears that we just bagged ourselves a hick!

I'm guessing they don't mention torture much on Fox News.

Posted by Michael : 1/26/2005 08:43:00 PM


HRW zero credibility. Methodolody, interviewing 90 detainees of whom 72 manage to conjure up a sufficiently horrific story to impress the no doubt panting interviewers. You're so gullible NRT.

And even if they did get smacked around a bit, big fucking deal. At least they live in a country with some hope of turning into a human rights observing democratic state, unlike the rest of the shitholes in the Arab world.

When you are all big and growed up you'll realise one of the gravest mistakes in life is to make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Gordon King

Posted by Anonymous : 1/26/2005 10:39:00 PM

One of the things which is very interesting about what is going on in Iraq is the "it'll happen automatically" point of view on the part of the Americans. I think arriving in a brutalised country with serious race relations problems, fundamentalist and violent religion and a lot of weapons and expecting everybody to be overcome with peace and respect for human rights was a little optimistic.
Especially when the people advocating democracy are seen as having a very dodgy agenda.

Once a community has become violent enough, they need serious help or a massive change of heart to become peaceful again. I don't think the Americans came equipped with the tools to achieve that.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/26/2005 11:25:00 PM

HRW's methodology - interviewing victims, examining injuries and medical records, and attempting to corroborate their stories - is the same as that used by Amnesty International. But I guess you think they have "zero credibility" too.

I'll leave your only too typical attempt to downplay the seriousness of what is alleged to speak to its own ridiculousness.

And this is most emphatically not a matter of things being less than perfect. It is a matter of the Iraqi regime failing to meet basic and fundamental standards. Any country which fails to meet those standards deserves to be ostracised by the international community, and we should not treat Iraq any differently; there is no excuse for what is being done that was not made by Saddam, and if we did not accept such excuses from him, we should not accept them from his replacements.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 1/27/2005 12:10:00 AM

The tragedy is that there were parts of the US government and military which knew damn well that it wasn't all going to happen automatically, and tried to plan for the eventual occupation. But those parts were simply ignored, with the consequences we are seeing today.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 1/27/2005 12:16:00 AM