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Filling Saddam’s Shoes

by DAVE LINDORFF

 

One thing you can pretty much count on. When the U.S. charges in with guns blazing and bombs blowing up with the promise of “bringing democracy” to some benighted and oppressed people, the end result will be a corrupt and barbaric regime not much better, and maybe worse, than the old one.

This was certainly so in Vietnam, where one dictatorship after another was set up under American authority, each with its own new style of viciousness and corruption. It was true in Korea, where the U.S., after fending off North Korea, underwrote and supported a string of vicious tyrants. It is proving to be so in Haiti, where a gangster regime has been installed by U.S. troops.

So why the surprise that the regime set up in Iraq, soon to be validated with a fraudulent election (the world’s first secret election where voters don’t know whom they are voting for because the candidates, especially those backed by the U.S., dare not give out their names or speak in public of their “platforms”) is proving to be every bit as vicious as the old (one-time U.S-backed) regime of Saddam Hussein?

The U.S. military and the corrupt and smugly colonial administration of L. Paul Bremer set the tone early on, with brutal torture of captured Iraqi insurgent fighters and the casual slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including huge numbers of women and children (called “collateral damage by U.S. authorities).

Now we learn from Human Rights Watch that the interim U.S. puppet regime of Iyad Allawi is practicing all those Saddamite methods of torture itself on those the regime opposes. We’ve got reports of people being “routinely” hung by the wrists on meat hooks, shocked on the genitals with electrodes and beaten in torture chambers by people who are actually the very same guys who were working there beforein the employ of Saddam himself.

Human Rights Watch says these tender mercies are being practiced not just on Iraqi insurgents (most of whom are probably simply shot when captured), but on “political enemies” of the regime.

Abu Ghraib prison, built originally by Saddam’s regime for use as a torture center, and later used by the U.S. military and CIA for the same purpose, is now reportedly back in business under the aegis of the Allawi regime.

No comment from that great purported exporter of democracy, George Bush, or from that great prophet of democratic renewal in the Middle East, Paul Wolfowitz. No promise to investigate this ugly contradiction coming just five days after the president’s lofty inaugural claim that America has been called upon by the Almighty to “end tyranny” in the world.

Surely, if our 120,000 troops and hundreds of billions of dollars in weaponry in Iraq cannot end tyranny in that country, we are unlikely to end it anywhere.

But of course, like everything else this administration does, the claim to be promoting democracy is nothing but a lot of words, masking an ugly reality.

The real truth? Those Iraqi torturers have been trained by American forces. Heck, they’re almost certainly even using U.S.-supplied, U.S. taxpayer-financed torture equipment. (Taser Corp., helping to reduce America’s ballooning trade deficit, one jolt at a time.)

They’re just doing what the Pentagon and CIA, and Don Rumsfeld’s new secret intelligence unit want them to do, namely: crush all opposition to America’s hand-picked, puppet rulers in Iraq.

None of this will surprise the people of the rest of the world, who have long known that America is no tribune of freedom.

The question is, when will the American people themselves stop believing this malarkey, and recognize what their sons and daughters are being asked to die for?
One thing you can pretty much count on. When the U.S. charges in with guns blazing and bombs blowing up with the promise of “bringing democracy” to some benighted and oppressed people, the end result will be a corrupt and barbaric regime not much better, and maybe worse, than the old one.

This was certainly so in Vietnam, where one dictatorship after another was set up under American authority, each with its own new style of viciousness and corruption. It was true in Korea, where the U.S., after fending off North Korea, underwrote and supported a string of vicious tyrants. It is proving to be so in Haiti, where a gangster regime has been installed by U.S. troops.

So why the surprise that the regime set up in Iraq, soon to be validated with a fraudulent election (the world’s first secret election where voters don’t know whom they are voting for because the candidates, especially those backed by the U.S., dare not give out their names or speak in public of their “platforms”) is proving to be every bit as vicious as the old (one-time U.S-backed) regime of Saddam Hussein?

The U.S. military and the corrupt and smugly colonial administration of L. Paul Bremer set the tone early on, with brutal torture of captured Iraqi insurgent fighters and the casual slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including huge numbers of women and children (called “collateral damage by U.S. authorities).

Now we learn from that the interim U.S. puppet regime of Iyad Allawi is practicing all those Saddamite methods of torture itself on those the regime opposes. We’ve got reports of people being “routinely” hung by the wrists on meat hooks, shocked on the genitals with electrodes and beaten in torture chambers by people who are actually the very same guys who were working there beforein the employ of Saddam himself.

Human Rights Watch says these tender mercies are being practiced not just on Iraqi insurgents (most of whom are probably simply shot when captured), but on “political enemies” of the regime.

Abu Ghraib prison, built originally by Saddam’s regime for use as a torture center, and later used by the U.S. military and CIA for the same purpose, is now reportedly back in business under the aegis of the Allawi regime.

No comment from that great purported exporter of democracy, George Bush, or from that great prophet of democratic renewal in the Middle East, Paul Wolfowitz. No promise to investigate this ugly contradiction coming just five days after the president’s lofty inaugural claim that America has been called upon by the Almighty to “end tyranny” in the world.

Surely, if our 120,000 troops and hundreds of billions of dollars in weaponry in Iraq cannot end tyranny in that country, we are unlikely to end it anywhere.

But of course, like everything else this administration does, the claim to be promoting democracy is nothing but a lot of words, masking an ugly reality.

The real truth? Those Iraqi torturers have been trained by American forces. Heck, they’re almost certainly even using U.S.-supplied, U.S. taxpayer-financed torture equipment. (Taser Corp., helping to reduce America’s ballooning trade deficit, one jolt at a time.)

They’re just doing what the Pentagon and CIA, and Don Rumsfeld’s new secret intelligence unit want them to do, namely: crush all opposition to America’s hand-picked, puppet rulers in Iraq.

None of this will surprise the people of the rest of the world, who have long known that America is no tribune of freedom.

The question is, when will the American people themselves stop believing this malarkey, and recognize what their sons and daughters are being asked to die for?

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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