Why Do They Hate Us This Month?Here are some of the facts from this month which might (or might not) help Americans in answering the ever-vexing question, "Why do they hate us?" You be the judge.
· Despite the awareness of widespread U.S. torture of detainees in Iraq being pretty commonplace, a soldier who tried to report the torture of detainees was found to be “insane” by his commanding officer and forced against his will to leave Iraq for “rehabilitation.” Seems reminiscent of other societies and how they dealt with their “social deviants” and others who would speak up, doesn’t it?
· Torture has been now described as “one of the most important secret weapons in the war on terror” and therefore “extraordinary rendition,” or basically the outsourcing of torture to countries where inconveniences such as the illegality of torture and the affirmation of due process and civil liberties are either non-existent or simply irrelevant, is totally justified. The only difficulty we’re having is getting the right people “rendered”…apparently, a lot of folks have been sent to the gulags “by mistake.”
· A 45-day jail sentence, as well as $12,000 in docked pay, was what Army 1st Lt. Jack Saville received after he pled guilty to “having two Iraqis thrown at gunpoint into the Tigris in Samarra,” one of the two Iraqis known to have died. After his indictment, Saville stated that he would have preferred “non-judicial” punishment and that his actions made him concerned about “putting fellow troops in increased danger by inciting insurgent Iraqis, who portrayed the incidents as war crimes.” Who says that military men don’t care about people, their dignity, and their lives? And throwing prisoners into the river and killing them is considered war crimes…how the Iraqis employ such devious propaganda!
· Paul Wolfowitz, neo-con architect of the Iraq war and supporter of “shock and awe” treatment for the recalcitrant Iraqis, has been nominated by Pres. Bush to the presidency of the World Bank. It seems as if the worldwide uproar over the World Bank/IMF Washington Consensus that enforces a disastrous neoliberal agenda on the world’s governments and peoples has made Bush realize there needs to be a change. Instead of neoliberal-led development, we shall now have the “neocon” version. Perhaps “shock and awe” may be the way to eliminate global poverty as well…
· The list of known prisoner deaths under the U.S. custody in Afghanistan and Iraq seems to be expanding on a daily basis. Army and Navy investigators have definitively concluded that at least 26 prisoners have died in possible cases of criminal homicides, with a total of 108 deaths under American custody. The utter lack of transparency at many of these sites in Iraq and Afghanistan will guarantee that the number of unknown Afghan and Iraqi prisoners killed remains, well, unknown. And the latest news is that the 17 G.I.’s implicated in some of these prisoners’ deaths will not be tried by the Pentagon. Lest the skeptics out there forget, this is an important reminder about how our President is determined to “bring justice to them,” i.e. the wrongdoers (at least the darker-skinned and foreign-looking ones, and whether they’ve done anything wrong is irrelevant).
· More and more details emerge of Iraqi prisoner abuse by American soldiers. One of the more sordid revelations was that the prisoners in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere have included children. One incident reveals that in order to “break” an Iraqi general, his child was tortured right in front of his eyes. And we have known that the U.S. has had a policy of detaining and torturing women and children related to men who they suspect are involved in the resistance in Iraq. And most recently, we learn of video footage of U.S. military abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo that may parallel that of the horror of Abu Ghraib. Torture of children, new Abu Ghraibs…thank God we have an independent and vigilant U.S. media which focuses on these things. If you’ve missed this stuff, you must be reading or watching foreign, biased media or something!
· Some claim that neo-liberalism and the Washington Consensus has the power to eliminate poverty as-we-know-it. The Indian government has succumbed to this belief. In order to comply with World Trade Organization requirements, India will halt its production of affordable generic drugs, drugs which save the lives of literally millions of AIDS patients throughout the world. Neo-liberalism must have the answer as to how destitute, seriously ill patients will now afford the prohibitively expensive drugs offered by the Western pharmaceutical companies…we’re just not looking hard enough for the answer.
· World Water Day was celebrated in March. The World Health Organization estimates that over 1.1 billion people have no safe water and 2.4 billion have no sanitation, leading to over 3 million deaths per year. Who are the idiots that claim that safe drinking water and a healthy living environment are universal human rights!
· The Israel-Palestine situation, that one, no two, no three thousand (God knows how long that problem has been going on) year old conflict has produced some “interesting” statistics this month. According to the Bank of Israel, the Arab poverty rate is triple the Jewish rate: 46.2% of Arab households lived in poverty in 2003, compared with 14.6% of Jewish households. From the Palestinian Central Statistical Bureau we learn that 3,861 Palestinian women lost a son or daughter in the four years of the Intifada and 66 Palestinian women were forced to give birth at Israeli checkpoints, resulting in 38 deaths. And finally, we learn of the blasphemy committed by an IDF officer who admits to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that Israeli settlers actually commit violent acts against Palestinians…perhaps the treatment meted out to that strange American soldier accusing his colleagues of torture and abuse can apply here, too: call this guy “insane” and send him for rehabilitation and re-education.
· From “civilized” and liberal, human rights- and minority-friendly Europe we get a report from the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights which states that 1,565 threats and acts of violence against mainly Muslim and Jewish victims were registered in 2004, compared with 833 the previous year. Progress, indeed.
· In the Congo, we learn of the high price Congolese must pay to noble U.N. peacekeepers attempting to bring peace and civilization to constant inter-tribal warfare in Africa: offer their daughters’ bodies for sex, and if their lucky, receive a buck in return from the thoughtful peacekeepers.
· Finally, there is the story of the Algerian woman Hassiba Belbachir. She was leaving the United States, was detained and brought “into custody” in Chicago. A couple of days later, she is “found” dead and officials claim she committed suicide. Others who know how American prisons and detention centers in the U.S. and in other countries (do Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay ring a bell?) operate suspect a different story in this situation. How many Abu Ghraibs and Hassiba Belbachirs will it take to make us outraged and sleepless at these horrors? But that’s why we have Jerry Springer and Fox News right, so that we can have a good night sleep?
“Why do they hate us?” An absurd question, isn’t it, after seeing all of these facts documenting our benevolence?