Creating another monster

The world has been shocked at the discovery of 173 prisoners in a squalid Baghdad jail, many of them malnourished and showing clear signs of torture.

But we shouldn’t be surprised. The raid by US troops may not have been accidental, as claimed, and could have been intended to woo Sunni Arabs before next month’s election. Claims of torture have existed for years around Iraq, especially at the hands of the Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry. And who has been training such forces? The US military.

There is a war in the shadows. Paramilitary groups roam the streets with impunity, kidnapping, torturing, maiming and killing. The Independent explains:

“The paramilitaries are not held responsible for all the deaths – some are the work of insurgents murdering supposed informers or government officials, or killing for purely sectarian motives.

“You very seldom see American soldiers on the streets of Baghdad now. The Iraqi police are in evidence outside, but so are increasing numbers of militias running their own checkpoints – men in balaclavas or wrap-around sunglasses and headbands, with leather mittens and an array of weapons. An American official acknowledged: ‘It is getting more and more like Mogadishu every day.'”

The US government has funded many activities and former intelligence officers with Saddam are in on the ride. Not unlike the dirty wars of Latin America – a time when Reagan funded paramilitary death squads to quash dissenters – the empire has learnt the lesson of history.

Unlike Latin America, however, the world is now watching Iraq and sees a superpower more than happy to kill by proxy.

Meanwhile, Australia may stay in Iraq for some time yet, according to Defence Minister Robert Hill.

…There will be plenty of important work in Iraq to help the new government, which will be put in place early next year after the December elections, to consolidate its support and provide the security it needs for its people”, he said.

Does consolidating its support mean turning a blind eye to death squads? What exactly does the Australian government know? It’s frightening to think that Hill believes the US and Australian position on Iraq is virtually identical.

As the Titatic starts to sink, and the rats are jumping for their lives, Australia remains an ally blinded by folly.

Remember how history views Australia’s involvement in Vietnam?

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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