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Torture, Death, and Destruction in Iraq

Tortureby Jacob G. Hornberger

The Wikileaks revelations confirm that ever since the U.S. government invaded Iraq seven years ago, U.S. officials were willing to accept any amount of death, destruction, and brutality among the Iraqi people to achieve that goal.

Recall what U.S. officials said after those infamous WMDs failed to materialize. Did they admit their error? Did they apologize? Did they order U.S. troops to exit the country once they realized that their WMD claims had been false?

No, they simply shifted to an alternative rationale for invading Iraq: to bring democracy to the Iraqi people.

From the very beginning, we pointed out that both rationales — WMDs and democracy-spreading — were lies. There never was a genuine WMD threat. Contrary to all the fear-mongering that U.S. officials were doing to arouse the American people into supporting the invasion, Saddam Hussein had neither the ability nor the interest in striking the United States with WMDs.

But President Bush and his cohorts needed a rationale for justifying an undeclared war of aggression against Iraq. They couldn’t just say, “The reason we’re invading Iraq is because the Empire wishes to replace Saddam Hussein with a U.S.-approved puppet regime.” Bush knew that Americans needed something more than that to justify massive death and destruction, and so he figured that a WMD scare would be the best way to get Americans on board his war. And when the WMDs couldn’t be found, Bush simply shifted to his alternative rationale: “We invaded to bring democracy to the Iraqi people.”

But it really didn’t matter whether the new regime was democratically installed or not. Democracy was the cover, for purposes of making Americans feel good about all the people being tortured, brutalized, and killed and the country being destroyed. All that mattered, however, was the installation of a regime that would be loyal to the Empire.

Think about Iran. In 1953 the U.S. Empire, operating through the CIA, ousted the democratically elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, and installed the unelected Shah of Iran into power. Does that sound like a commitment to democracy?

For the next 25 years or so, the Shah tortured and brutalized his own people, with the full support of the CIA. From the standpoint of the Empire it doesn’t matter how brutally a dictator treats his own people. All that matters is that he remain a loyal member of the Empire. If he has to brutalize his own people to retain power, so be it.

Think about when the CIA ousted the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz, and installed a succession of unelected military generals to take his place. It didn’t matter that such military regimes proceeded to torture, brutalize, and kill dissidents. All that mattered was that the regime was loyal to the U.S. Empire.

In fact, that’s been the entire history of the U.S. Empire’s relationship with Latin America: Full support of dictatorships, including training their military personnel at the School of Americas, and turning a blind eye toward the torture and brutalization of their own citizenry.

Look at Augusto Pinochet, the unelected military dictator of Chile. U.S. officials loved him even though he was a dictator. Why? Because Pinochet was loyal to the Empire. And it didn’t matter one whit to U.S. officials that Pinochet’s henchmen tortured, raped, and murdered Chilean dissidents.

Or consider Pervez Musharraf, the military general who took power in a coup in Pakistan. U.S. officials loved him and supported him.

In fact, consider Saddam Hussein himself — the man that U.S. officials called a new Hitler when they were trying to arouse the American public into supporting Bush’s war on Iraq. Guess who U.S. officials were supporting during the 1980s. Saddam Hussein himself, the man who was torturing, brutalizing, and killing his own people. Why, during the 1980s U.S. officials were even delivering to him those infamous WMDs that they later used to scare the American people into supporting the war. See herefor the proof.

How in the world can it surprise anyone that U.S. personnel were turning a blind eye to torture and brutalization at the hands of the regime that replaced Saddam? This is the entire history of U.S. foreign policy: install a friendly regime and let it have free rein to torture, brutalize, and kill within the country. Moreover, given the U.S. Empire’s policy on torture, its policy on rendition to other countries for the purpose of torture, and its policy on immunity for torturers, how could it have been otherwise in Iraq, the country the Empire was occupying?

Every Sunday for seven years, Christian ministers across the land have exhorted their congregations to pray for the troops in Iraq. Wouldn’t it be nice if, just once, they asked their parishioners to pray for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi victims of torture, brutality, death, and destruction arising from the U.S. war on Iraq? Indeed, wouldn’t it be nice if the American people repented what the U.S. Empire has done to Iraq by dismantling the U.S. government’s military empire and restoring a constitutional republic to our land?

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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