More fuel for anti-Americanism

Citizens all over the world are yet again sickened by reports ofhuman rights violations. Last week, information that U.S. andBritish soldiers engaged in various human rights violations againstprisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq hit media sources. Thealleged violations include urinating on prisoners, sodomy, forcingsimulation of sex acts, beatings and even chemical burning.

These allegations must be assigned the utmost validityconsidering they were taken from the pages of a military document,containing 53 pages of an investigation into the abuse in militaryprison systems in Iraq, which was finished in February. Thisdocument not only acknowledged that this type of abuse has beenoccurring in Iraq, it contained photographic evidence as well aseyewitness statements.

Over a year has passed since the beginning of the war in Iraqand death tolls are still rising. There have been countlessnewsbreaks in the past year, from the capture of Saddam Hussein tothe most current news of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. There is noend in sight to U.S. involvement in Iraq. Indeed, there has beentalk of sending more troops into the quagmire we’ve created. Andmore and more of the information that comes out of Iraq has fueledthe fire of anti-Americanism that is raging, not only in Iraq andthe Middle East, but all over the world. Anyone who has traveledrecently can tell you that it’s easier to encounter Atlantis onyour travels than it is to find someone who doesn’t hate, resent orat least disdain U.S. nationals.

When faced with news like this, U.S. citizens have to questionthemselves seriously. Does anyone remember why we went to Iraq inthe first place? Not too long ago, those who didn’t already knowfound out that it was because of lies that the Bush administrationweaved about weapons of mass destruction and a possible linkbetween Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.

Before the war, one of the most popular reasons of support hadto do with Hussein’s human rights violations against his ownpeople. Abu Ghraib was, during his reign, a disgusting example ofthese abuses. But now we can see that since the United States. has”won” the war, not much has changed. Only now, instead of hatingSaddam, the anger is directed full force against the UnitedStates.

If terrorism is what the Bush regime has declared war against,and if the situation in Iraq was a facet of that war, then U.S.citizens have a lot to fear. Occupying a country that still has astrong contingent of citizens willing to die to get U.S. forces toleave and that still has not become a democracy is bad enough.Committing atrocious acts like the ones described in the Februaryprison report is completely unacceptable. As anti-war activistshave been saying from the beginning, this will only increase hatredof the United States, thereby increasing the chances of terroristacts against U.S. nationals worldwide.

There are fatal faults in a military system that at once claimsdiscipline and complete control over its members and at the sametime blames renegade members for violations like those thatallegedly occurred in Abu Ghraib. Even our enormous “defense”budget has not been able to stop these unacceptable situations. Inan election year as important as this one, not only in terms of thepresidential election in the fall, but also in regard to themayoral elections here in Portland May 18, these are issuescitizens need to take into account.

Let the words of Abu Ali, as quoted in a May 3 article by RobertMoran of The Detroit Free Press, stay in your mind today. Assomeone who was incarcerated in Abu Ghraib during Hussein’s reign,Ali had this today about the actions of U.S. military towards Iraqiprisoners, “I really hate the Americans now after this.”