Torture? Hard to Believe? Hardly

Tuesday May 18, 2004

“The whole thing is disgusting and it’s hard to believe,” said California Senator Dianne Feinstein referring to the torture of Iraqis by U.S. military personnel. 

Disgusting? Yes. 

Hard to believe? 


The Bush administration considers torture a means toward its end of securing Iraq for its interests. The Red Cross, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International all reported that torture of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military personnel was widespread and systematic. But President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ignored those reports and continued to encourage the mistreatment of prisoners with their “us against the evildoers” rhetoric. So we shouldn’t be surprised that the torture took place. What is surprising and what angered the president and his secretary of defense is that a number of torture sessions were photographed and that those photos have been circulated worldwide. 

Now the evidence is there for all to see. President Bush’s crusade to secure the Mideast and its oil resources for Halliburton and other U.S.-based multinational corporations involves torturing prisoners. We already knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Now we know that the administration has not sent soldiers and mercenaries to Iraq to promote democracy and respect for human rights. 

How did things get so bad? Everywhere people are pointing fingers. They should be looking in the mirror. All or most of us are to blame. We have allowed the Bush administration to use the tragic events of Sept. 11 to promote its imperial foreign policy objectives. We are the good Germans standing idly by while our president practices genocide in our name. 


Yes, genocide. Genocide is the planned extermination of an entire national, racial, religious, political, or ethnic group. The political group the Bush administration intends to exterminate consists of Arabs who refuse to accept U.S. domination in the oil rich Mideast. Hence, the President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld might justly be accused of genocide. 

What is to be done? In the short term Americans who stand for decency and democracy must take to the streets and bombard the media in every way possible, demanding that our troops pull out of Iraq and be replaced by a force under the command of the United Nations until a government controlled by Iraqis is in place. In the long run we must find a way to ensure that our foreign policy represents the will of the majority rather than the imperial designs of an opulent elite. 

Not only do we who live in the United States have a special responsibility to end the atrocities that are carried out with our money and in our name, it is in our interest to do so. That is something the enmity and resulting acts of terrorism provoked by Bush’s war in Iraq make clear. 


Roger Burbach, Ph. D. is the director of the Center for the Study of the Americas in Berkeley and the author, with Jim Tarbell, of Imperial Overstretch: George W. Bush and the Hubris of Empire. Paul Cantor, Ph. D. is a professor of economics at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut.›