[Marxism] Abu Gitmo

Chris Brady cdbrady at sbcglobal.net
Mon May 17 23:43:10 MDT 2004

The heighth of equivocal pettifoggery these days can be found in the
United States' dodgy designation for detainees as "unlawful
combatants".  US finaglers deliberately created this new label as an
avoidance of legal responsibilities in their imprisonment of individuals
they deem inimical.  Unlike criminal suspects or prisoners of war,
individuals arbitrarily marked "unlawful combatants" have no legal
standing in US civilian or military courts.  That is because there is no
mention of "unlawful combatants" in the letter of the law.  So if one
wants to break the law, one should only find a term not written in the

Some US-designated and detained "unlawful combatants" may have broken
specific laws, however.  But one could pick and choose between either
domestic criminal law or international codes concerning warfare to stick
them with charges.  The only hazy ground is where domestic law and
international law *overlap*; there is no *gap*.  Nevertheless, the
United States determines "detainees" held incommunicado at Guantanamo to
be "unlawful combatants" and not legally suspects.  The United States
Government does not consider them to be prisoners of war, or entitled to
the protections that very government ratified with the Geneva Accords,
even though they were captured in battle, because the United States
issued no formal declaration of war.  Hypocrisy twirls as it skirts the
law.  What a horrifying display of power and arrogance.  The involvement
of US forces in Vietnam was not a formally declared war either, despite
that massive black monument in front of the Capitol.   

As we know, the United States wields principles if they suit their
purpose, and scorns them if they don't.  Many of us recall with
repulsion the worship Ronald Reagan lavished over the Christian dictator
and mass murderer Rios-Montt, or his Administration's legendary
lawlessness in the promotion of the Contra cause, or the US Government's
backing of the Death Squad army of El Salvador, or Operation Phoenix in
Viet Nam, or the backing of the Shah of Iran, or
 or the list goes on. 
In light of the recent torture scandal at Abu Ghraib, we would be well
served to recall the words of Viron Vaky back in 1968 when the former US
Embassy deputy chief of mission in Guatemala remarked ruefully: "Murder,
torture and mutilation are alright if our side is doing it and the
victims are Communists." Abu Ghraib is not an anomaly in the annals of
the imperialist  projection of force in the world, whether from
Washington or Rome.  We may even suspect the tut-tuts from the top to be
less than sincere, only an embarrassment upon exposure. 

Then again.

Publicly deploring torture yet making no concrete institutional or
policy changes can only reconfirm the impression of many that the US
Government is not only *not* serious about its disapproval of cruelty
and torment but that it actually approves of torture --and not only as
the most efficient, most economical and most effective means of
extracting information from individuals but as a means of social control
through the implicit yet very clear threat of individual and mass
torture.  Nixon's Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) has nothing on the
zealotry of the yearning, burning Bush's Servants of the Apocalypse. 
"Rule by Fear" is not terrorism; it is the way of empire, and those
chosen by G*d.

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