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The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

I wrote this back in 2004, when the bullshit was starting to float to the surface. I was pissed off. This was before the ongoing abuses at Guantanamo Bay became public knowledge; it seems my predictions were right.

The only upside to this disgusting series of grotesque abuses of human rights was that it led to a reaction against the Bush doctrine and a new direction in American and therefore (like or not), world politics.

Published in The Jakarta Post (

Wed, 06/02/2004 9:04 AM Opinion

U.S. in Iraq: The moral high ground?
Patrick Guntensperger

When we first saw the photographs of American occupying troops committing atrocities on the people they were “”liberating””, the naive (or disingenuous) among us might have thought that these were appalling but isolated instances. The more cynical might have reflected that when you see one cockroach in your house, it’s a fairly safe bet that there are plenty more hidden from sight. It seems that the cockroaches have set up house in Iraq.

We can rest assured that as this latest American adventure is scrutinised more thoroughly, more evidence of acts of brutality committed by American military personnel will come to light.

In the information era, it is hard to commit war crimes without anyone knowing about them. It’s damn hard to prosecute, much less punish the war criminals, but the crimes are often exposed and the criminals known. Bush, Blair and their hordes of murderous followers are starting to be exposed for the liars and hypocrites they are.

The war on Iraq, prosecuted by barbarians, against the expressed desires of the civilised world, was justified on two basic counts.

In the first place, the U.S. and their sycophantic followers attacked Iran ostensibly because they had “irrefutable proof” that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that were ready to be deployed.

It turns out that such “irrefutable proof” was little more than suspicion that had been “sexed up” to bolster a campaign of lies. And then an international panel, despite months of intensive searching, was unable to turn up this fictitious arsenal.

No matter…the strongest justification for the crusade still existed. The moral justification would serve after the lies were exposed. The invasion was apparently justified because Iraq was an immoral country and the moral people of the world would set them straight. That morally superior force was the U.S. and Britain with their “coalition” who followed sullenly, all the while nursing their twisted arms.

A morally superior force led by a halfwit who assumed the leadership of his country illegally after having lost the election; that’s hardly what the world needs to bring morality in government to other countries. Just the same, the Iraqi government had to go; so Dubya decreed, so must it be done. The Iraqi dictator, after all, didn’t represent the people of Iraq…he wasn’t in power as the result of a democratic election. H’mmm. Better not go there, George.

The Iraqi dictator had to go because he commanded a military that employed brutal, uncivilised measures against perceived enemies. H’mmm. That’s dangerous territory, too, George and Tony. How many prisoners of war have the “forces of good” tortured to death so far? How many are being brutalized as this column is being read?

When the justifications have evaporated, when the rationale for an invasion has been demonstrated to be a fraud, isn’t it time to stop the pretence? Isn’t it time that the rest of the western world stops accepting the sanctimonious self-righteousness of brutal and cynical proven liars like Bush and Blair when they claim to occupy the moral high ground? Their mindless sadists in uniform have been proven to be systematically torturing and abusing prisoners.

A shrug and a statement that amounts to, “That’s a shame” hardly redresses the evil for which those leaders must personally bear responsibility. These atrocities are war crimes and the leaders carry the guilt for the sins committed on their behalf. This is particularly so, given that the war itself was arrogantly launched in the face of opposition and condemnation of the UN, the closest thing we have to a world government. It is even more clearly the case when the justifications for such a refusal to accept civilised principles turn out to be lies.

The half-hearted chastisement of a few ignorant hillbilly NCOs will no doubt be the extent of the campaign to right the wrongs committed for the greater glory of George Lite. Those pathetic, knuckle dragging louts in uniforms will pay the entire price for carrying out the clear desires of the morally superior society they represent.

In some places, they will be lauded as heroes, even as their leaders will cynically let them take the fall. In the meantime, we will continue to hear assertions of a higher morality to justify the coalition’s presence in Iraq.

As the atrocities committed by Bush’s thugs are discussed, we’re going to hear more from the cretins who argue that Saddam’s crimes were worse, or that he committed his first. We wouldn’t accept that level of rationalisation from a six-year old; let’s not accept it from a national leader, even if he can’t read without moving his lips.

Morally crippled societies like the U.S. have no business exporting their homegrown brand of hypocrisy and violence to the rest of the world.

If they insist on doing it, at least let the rest of us demonstrate some courage and integrity; let’s call them on it. Let’s insist that we admit that there is no moral authority being exercised here; the conquest of Iraq was and is nothing more than the vicious destruction of one evil regime by a stronger one.


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