Why not hold the professed Christian administration of so-called United States president George Bush to the Golden Rule of Christianity? Jesus commanded, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)
Bush and his colleagues have indicated their approval of waterboarding. But how would Americans react if the situation were reversed? What would Americans say if captured United States troops were tied to a board, their faces covered in cellophane, and water poured over them until the point of retching? Would Americans then agree that waterboarding is a legitimate means to try and gather information?
It would, surely, be considered barbaric. Americans would fulminate against the inhumane torture. The US regime would decry it as a violation of universal conventions against torture. But when the US regime has its willing agents carry out torture, dissent at home is palpably muted.
If such methods of interrogation are inappropriate for usage on Americans, then they are inappropriate to use on other humans. To state otherwise would be to submit to a racist ideology whereby other humans are considered a lower form of humanity unworthy of protection.
But why stop at waterboarding?
If a country had attacked the US for refusing to relinquish its massive arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and murdered 655,000 Americas, would Americans not be horrified? Considering that since the US-led aggression launched on 20 March 2003, 650,000 more people have died in Iraq than Americans died on 9-11, the answer must be “yes.” But to draw an equivalent comparison, taking into account the 26,783,383 people in Iraq and the 298,444,215 people in the US (July 2006 estimates from the CIA Factbook), the equivalent number of American civilians murdered by such an attack would be 7,298,591!
When Madeleine Albright opined that the deaths of over a half million Iraqi children was a price “worth it” to pursue the US “national interest” in Iraq, what would she have replied if sanctions had caused the deaths of over a half million US children (the Iraqi deaths being approximately equivalent to 5.5 million US children)? Would she have been so callous? Would not Americans have been outraged, if they knew?
What if “extraordinary rendition” happened to American prisoners? What if they were surreptitiously disappeared into third countries that practice torture? What if Canada sent an American citizen to be tortured in Syria? How would American citizens react?
Speaking of gulags abroad, how would Americans feel if an “enemy” government maintained a military base on US soil against US wishes? It is surprising how little comment is made about the US contravening the territorial integrity of Cuba at Guantánamo Bay or how the entire population of the Chagos archipelago was ethnically cleansed to set up and maintain a US military base there. But considering the US regime’s support for ethnic cleansing in the racist, supremacist state of Israel and its own history of ethnic cleansing, otherwise euphemistically referred to as “nation building,” perhaps it is well within the range of imperialistic normalcy.
If a military power had destroyed the economic and social infrastructure of the US -- power grid, water system, garbage collection, churches, hospitals, and schools -- how would Americans feel?
If the US were occupied by uninvited and unwanted foreign troops how would they react?
When the present becomes the long ago past, how will history judge US empire? How will it view the citizenry of empire?
The plutocrats of US empire luxuriate while the masses at home struggle and those abroad perish. With great power comes great responsibility. How a country wields its power carves out its legacy.
The US is not alone in the perfidy of empire. The regimes of the UK, Canada, much of the western world, Korea, and Japan remain in solidarity with the US regime. Most world regimes meekly shy away from denouncing the violence of hyper empire.
It is, however, up to the citizens at the seat of empire to determine the path of the empire -- be it one of righteousness or evil. It is difficult to look evil in the face and call it what it is when you are a part of that evil; for the reflection of empire is one that is drenched in the blood of many victims.
Kim Petersen, Co-Editor of Dissident Voice, lives on the outskirts of Seoul in southern Korea. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
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