WikiLeaks: torture, civilian deaths and Western complicity
The WikiLeaks website has released more than 400,000 secret US documents about the Iraq war covering a period up to 2009. The leaks reveal details of rape, torture, murder, the killings of civilians from helicopter gunships and many other incidents by coalition forces and Iraqi forces, even under Obama’s watch in 2009. It also shows how coalition soldiers turned a blind eye to reports of torture and extrajudicial killings by the Iraqi government they installed.
This is a horrific picture that reveals just how the occupation is actually being executed on the ground. Numbering in the tens of thousands, these are clearly not isolated incidents carried out by individual ‘bad apples’ as is typically maintained by western military, government and media sources.
Much of this abuse had been know by many but went unreported or ignored by some in the mainstream western media keen to support their troops and maintain domestic opinion for the war, as western casualties increased in an unwinnable war.
Some have argued that ‘war is messy’ – shamefully implying that the loss of innocent lives is inevitable and to be expected. After these latest leaks, some in the British press appear to gloat over what they portray as the actions of ‘American soldiers’, conveniently forgetting the many incidents involving British soldiers in Iraq including the now infamous case of Baha Mousa who was tortured to death in British custody – he died of 93 separate injuries. Such a vast catalogue of killings of innocent civilians over several years of war exposes the rampage of western forces in Muslim lands without any means of restraint, control or accountability.
The initial reactions of the US government – which at every opportunity pronounced the mantra of winning heart and minds in Iraq and Afghanistan – has been to deride the leaks as irresponsible and Hilary Clinton claimed they endangered the lives of US and UK soldiers. As if the lives of the innocent women and children killed have no value. UK politicians have so far been silent, seemingly happy to let their US allies take the brunt of these revelations. There are no calls from these liberal leaders to investigate the multitude of reports. These democratic governments, which preach the rule of law and their belief in human rights, are silent about how such systematic abuses of the rules of engagement could take place, on such a large scale, and over such a long period of time.
As western governments draw down troop numbers while maintaining a controlling influence over Iraq, its politics and economy, these leaks are yet another reminder of their brutal occupation, which has destroyed the lives of a generation Iraqis. It should not be a huge surprise that the Maliki regime and its predecessors – imposed, sponsored and supported by western governments – is guilty of torture. After all, the torture by coalition forces at Abu Ghraib led the way in the earlier years of this occupation. Nevertheless, these latest reports will not prevent Maliki and his like being welcomed to the White House and Downing Street.
As with Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, the lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – the list can go on – this catalogue of falsely legitimised torture and killings of innocents has forever exposed the fallacy of the freedom and democracy agenda. It has woken a generation of Muslims to scrutinise western propaganda, be more politically aware and seek answers from Islam to the occupation of Muslim lands and to how a Muslim government – the Khilafah – will put an end to torture, defend Muslim lands against foreign aggression, and run the affairs of state independent of foreign governments.