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by Voice of the Daily Mirror
Wednesday, Mar. 26, 2003 at 11:58 AM
THE outrage and anger over the treatment of US prisoners of war by Iraq is very real (!!??). Their brutal and humiliating treatment - recorded in detail for television - is profoundly shocking.But not everyone is entitled to be outraged. The warmongers in the White House are not.Little more than a year ago, there were other prisoners of war. As United States forces swept victoriously through Afghanistan, they seized hundreds of men.
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These prisoners were transported to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. They were blindfolded and shackled. And their plight was gloatingly recorded by official US photographers to be circulated around the world.
The treatment of American prisoners of war in Iraq is in flagrant breach of the Geneva Convention. But so is the treatment of Afghani prisoners in Camp X-Ray.
They were humiliated and their humiliation recorded so that the White House could take vengeance for the atrocities of September 11.
The US did not stop there in defying the rules of war. It has admitted that almost all the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were tortured.
There is no difference between breaches of the Geneva Convention committed by America and Iraq. But the White House thinks there is.
Mr Rumsfeld says it's "illegal to do things to PoWs that are humiliating to those prisoners".
And a White House spokesman said yesterday there is a difference between the war on terrorism and "this additional conflict" in Iraq.
In other words, this US administration doesn't consider it is bound by other people's laws. It can do what it likes and expects others to do what it likes, too.
To yearn for vengeance is an understandable human emotion. But we are entitled to expect civilised people to control it. Particularly the people who run the most powerful nation on earth.
Only yesterday, 19 Camp X-Ray prisoners were released. They had been incarcerated, humiliated and abused for more than a year. Yet now the US admits they are innocent.
What this White House did at Guantanamo Bay was an indication of how it would behave over Iraq.
It ignored the wishes of the United Nations. It defied international law. It invaded a sovereign state simply because it wanted to and had the military might.
That does not mean we shouldn't feel compassion and pity for the troops who have been captured by the Iraqis. It is not their fault they are in Iraq.
They, like their comrades who have died, are paying the price of their leaders' actions.
The Iraqis would have dealt with them cruelly even without the way the Americans behaved at Guantanamo. They treated our own airmen similarly in 1991.
If the White House had followed the Geneva Convention, it might not have helped these prisoners of war. But it would have given America an essential moral superiority.
Remember, we were told by President Bush and Tony Blair that this was a moral war. A crusade to rid the world of a tyrannical, bloodthirsty despot.
Yet just about every rule and law that could be broken by the US has been.
Mr Blair cannot be happy. He has allied himself with a White House administration that steamrollers over all opposition, defying the rules and ignoring the relationships that could make this a better world.
War is at times a necessary evil, though this is not one of them. And some of its worst excesses can be eased by applying rules of decency and civilisation.
The world should condemn every nation and every leader who flagrantly breaches those rules.
Whether it is Iraq or the USA, Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush.
There cannot be one rule for America and another for the rest of the world. That way lies anarchy and the collapse of civilisation.
(FOTO HYPOCRISY: The prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are masked, shackled and forced to kneel)
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