Who Are the Real War Criminals?
On the surface, the promise to close Guantanamo—delayed as the closing is, of course—seems like the ending to a fairy tale story straight out of daytime drama. At last righteousness has triumphed over evil, the wicked man has been deposed, and the greased wheels of life are going back to turning the right direction. Upon second thought however, the tale is less simple and less happy.
It is immensely unlikely that Obama’s administration will ever put the torturers or those that sanctioned and legalized them on trial. After all, the list of those guilty would include Obama’s own Vice President Joe “Interventionalist” Biden and Secretary of State Hillary “Annihilate Iran” Clinton, both of whom helped beat the war drums for Iraq and Afghanistan in the past, and both of whom are beating those same well-worn drums against Iran and Sudan in the present.
Moreover, there is nothing they can accuse them of that hasn’t already been committed by US foreign policy. It must firmly be asked: exactly what crime has been committed in Guantanamo that has not already been committed by the United States ruling class for hundreds of years prior? The latest debates blasting from the television are mind-boggling—where does the “We Do Not Torture” declaration come from?
Indeed, there is not one act committed by the Bush-era torture chambers between 2001 and 2009 that has not been committed in other wars for empire, the wars lauded to the skies by the very people who are now in charge of the country and promising to bring torture to an end. Very little coming out of the Obama Administration differs in any significant way from Bush. Only one major difference presents itself: the main facts—from the invasion of the Middle East to the intentional widespread devastation of infrastructure to the bombing of Pakistan and Somalia by robotic drones—nothing is denied anymore. The US government has become confident and secure once more in its violence.
The list of charges for the CIA torture chambers opened in many countries, and not just Guantanamo, is an impressive one. Autopsy and death reports coming from detainees held in US facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan show many dying while being interrogated. Detainees are frequently hooded, gagged, strangled, beaten, subjected to sleep deprivation as well as temperature extremes. There are also reports of dog attacks, deprivation of hydration and mental torture, such as placing a prisoner terrified of insects in a cage with a swarm of them (a method actually mentioned by White House memos). “There is no question that U.S. interrogations have resulted in deaths,” says Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. Many of the cases have been ruled homicides, such as the cases of strangulation, suffocation and “blunt force injuries” inflicted by CIA operatives and Navy Seals.
What Are They Hiding?
Still, the most disturbing part of the matter is not what has been revealed about the nature of the US ruling class and the international imperialist system in general, but the lurking thought of what lies beyond—if what they have chosen to admit is this bad, exactly what are they hiding?
This brings us to the infamous “torture memos.” Not only has Obama’s Administration refused to release the many photographs and videotapes depicting the torture of prisoners, but lately he has been working overtime to distract the public from his own General’s testimonies before the press. As even the capitalist media has been forced to report, there are videos and photos shot where prisoners are beaten and raped, which I’m sure rank bottom among the worst atrocities, if I know our Dear Sweet CIA.
Being Simply “Against Torture” is Not Enough
The conservative and liberals in the media alike howl with shocked reactions at these reports. “What have we become?” they ask, astonished that their Dear Sweet America, land of liberty and freedom, would do such vile acts. Torture, apparently, is not a practice of the United States and doesn’t reflect “real” American values. Honestly—are these people kidding?
To believe that statement, that America has suddenly become a dictatorship when it was not one before, one would have to assume that up until around late 2001 the US had been a shining beacon of light for the rest of the world and the living embodiment of justice and peace.
For a little perspective, we might bring up America’s unprovoked invasion of Vietnam, in which almost 4 million Indochinese people were killed, or perhaps their invasion of Korea, where several more million met their deaths. If incidents of torture suddenly make America a raging monster according to the media, one wonders how they would react if one added the dead from Nixon and Johnson’s carpet-bombings of Laos.
This is not even to mention that a few hours’ drive from Bush’s former and Obama’s current house lies the infamous School of the Americas, where many generals that have led US-backed military coups in Latin America were trained in the art of torture, most of them—hooding, isolation, forced nudity, sensory overload and stress positions—have been since practiced at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, as well as the hundreds of other bases in occupied countries. In Georgia’s Fort Benning many of the same techniques being used across the globe were devised.
Clearly, to say that the US has “lost its morality” from these latest and most fashionable examples of torture is like condemning a slaughterhouse for using slightly more-brutal-than-usual methods of killing their livestock. So now suddenly the US is a dictatorship? Sorry guys—we passed that level long ago, in fact I think we passed it a few centuries ago.
What Is the Solution?
One cannot be against torture and at the same time for a more “refined” warfare—there is no such thing. It is considered “torture” by many to waterboard subjugated peoples, but it must also be considered torture to bomb their homelands and invade them with hundreds of thousands of gun-wielding troops. This entire system is guilty of Crimes Against Humanity, not simply a few individuals. We cannot get rid of such atrocities until we get rid of the capitalist system which spawned them. The only way out is armed revolution.