The war in Iraq seems to be pretty much over at this point, and none too soon for the Iraqi people. Saddam Hussein’s abuses of human rights are many, and there are few people genuinely sorry to see him go, whether they are on the right or the left.
By now, most people have heard of his regime’s policies when any opposition to his authority was encountered: genocidal assaults on his own countrymen, in which thousands of innocent civilians were killed; the use of torture on prisoners who were denied due process; the relatives of alleged criminals being publicly slaughtered as a warning to others. The list goes on and on.
Therefore, it does not seem unreasonable to suggest that perhaps the United States did in fact do the Iraqi people something of a favor by removing the man ultimately responsible for such abominations.
Yet, while most might validate the particular end of removing Hussein from power, I personally take issue with the means allegedly used by the U.S. to achieve this goal, as should anyone who is at all concerned with the support of human rights.
One of the most questionable actions taken by the U.S. in its removal of Hussein’s regime was the employment of cluster bombs in heavily populated areas.
Each cluster bomb canister contains 202 small bombs the size of soft drink cans, which scatter and spray over an area about the size of two football fields.
At least five percent of the bombs do not explode on impact.Instead they serve as de facto anti-personnel mines that continue to pose a threat to anyone who comes into contact with them. Given the substantial area that each of these canisters covers, civilian casualties become virtually inevitable.
During one cluster bomb attack in which an Iraqi hospital was struck, truckloads of civilian corpses were removed from the scene, including those of infants literally blown in half.
The breach of Iraqi human rights that the Unites States has professed to support even extends to its own borders. In this case, it is the right of all peoples to be granted asylum in countries outside of their own if they are persecuted. “Operation Liberty Shield,” announced by the Department of Homeland Security on March 17, mandates the detention of asylum-seekers from Iraq and at least 33 other countries arriving in the United States.
The policy allows the immigration authorities to detain “for the duration of their processing period” asylum applicants “from nations where al Qaeda, al Qaeda sympathizers and other terrorist groups are known to have operated,” according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Therefore, thousands of asylum-seekers who come to the United States hoping for security can be automatically detained, without review, for months and possibly years while their applications are “processed.”
Assuming guilt by association on the basis of nationality, this course of action is, at its core, nothing more than a form of ethnic profiling.
Thus, Amnesty International asserts that “the mandatory detention of the group of asylum-seekers targeted by ‘Operation Liberty Shield’ is a clear breach of international legal standards, which prohibits detention that is arbitrary and unlawful.”
But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this conflict is the apparent validity behind reports of the United States resorting to torture as a means of extracting information.
In certain instances, the U.S. has even turned over detainees to countries like Egypt that are more accustomed to its use. At a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, where techniques like sleep deprivation and physical abuse are employed on detainees, an official claims, “If you don’t violate someone’s human rights some of the time, you probably aren’t doing your job.” Aside from the inherent unreliability of confessions derived from torture, there is the problem of the United States compromising its own ideals.
Since its founding, the United States has endorsed the notion that individuals have a right to be free from torture.
Exemplified at the national level in the Bill of Rights and the international level in the American ratification of the Geneva Conventions and the International Convention
Against Torture (at the urging of President George H.W. Bush), the United States is exhibiting shameful hypocrisy in the name of its security.
I am by no means claiming that national security is shameful. When the ideals upon which our country was founded are compromised in the pursuit of this goal, however, this is where the line must be drawn.
It’s a contradiction: in trying to make the world safe enough to enjoy the freedoms we hold dear, we’re violating those same freedoms. In doing everything we can to win the battle, we are ultimately going to lose the war.
– Information obtained from www.aisusa.org.