Iraqi 'inhumanity'

The capture of several American troops by the defending Iraqi forces has produced outbursts of moral indignation from George W Bush and Tony Blair, along with their supporters and hangers-on. The fact that the Iraqis dared to show their captives on TV, and ask them questions in public, is denounced by the likes of Donald Rumsfeld as a breach of the Geneva Convention. Proof of the odious nature of Saddam Hussein's regime and thereby supposedly justifying the war itself. In any case, Rumsfeld's complaints about Iraqi 'inhumanity' to US prisoners have something of the flavour of the complaints of the inhuman torturers of the Japanese military-imperial regime about American 'inhumanity' at the end of World War II. Rumsfeld is actually considerably worse than the people he is complaining about, a fact proven by the existence of that concentration/torture camp for islamic prisoners of war on Guantanamo Bay, which everyone knows was Rumsfeld's personal initiative. Rumsfeld defined Taliban prisoners of war taken in Afghanistan, fighters for the established government of that country - deeply reactionary but still the government - as "unlawful combatants", and therefore openly stated they could be kept in cages in the open air, deprived of food and medical care, and subjected to both overt psychological and physical torture. His case for doing so was the alleged lack of international legitimacy of the cause these islamists were fighting for. Using Rumsfeld's own criteria, it could be observed that, given the fact that even major world powers such as Germany, France and Russia, as well as UN general secretary Kofi Anan, have testified to the formal illegality of this war, then Iraq could be just as entitled as the United States to treat those who illegally attack its territory as unlawful combatants: ie, as terrorists. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, as they say. The Iraqis in fact assert that they intend to abide by the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war, and it is quite likely that they will, if only for reasons of propaganda, make some effort to do so in the most general terms. Showing prisoners being questioned on TV is not strictly consistent with that, but then the televised pictures issued earlier by the Americans of Iraqi prisoners being led away at gunpoint with hands on heads, or even barbarically trussed up with cable ties (shades of camp X-Ray) are not exactly very 'humanitarian' either, and are blatant breaches of the Geneva Convention also. It is something of a shame that ordinary American troops have been put in this situation by the imperialist voracity of the people who sent them there in pursuit of Uncle Sam and imperialism. What a pity that Rumsfeld, Bush and Blair cannot be induced to take their places. But even in terms of this conflict Rumsfeld's complaints are sickeningly hypocritical - in the context of camp X-Ray, they are beyond words. Ian Donovan