For more than a century, rebuilding the Middle East has been the top priority of the United States. In a bid to achieve its goal, the US has spent huge funds and put forth a lot of efforts.
Washington could have succeeded in reshaping the region, had it genuinely wanted to do so. Had it been so desperate to see a prosperous Middle East, it could have helped in the eradication of the communist mindset that was supported by the Baath regimes and it could have helped create a peaceful region. This region could have then become a fervent ally of the US, just as the US always hoped for.
Had the US used education and a policy of reconciliation, the situation in the Middle East would have been very different. Unfortunately, the US chose a different path. It chose the path of violence to maintain its influence in the region. Washington tried to impose its own understanding of democracy on the Middle East without taking into consideration the religious sensibilities of the people of this region. It completely ignored the history and values of the region.
Today the movers and shakers in Washington are astounded by the wholesale massacres carried out by Daesh. It would be difficult to assess the current chaos in the Middle East without properly evaluating the US invasion of Iraq.
In 2004, Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison was widely covered by the media with the photos of Pvt. Lynnie England holding a leash attached to an Iraqi prisoner sprawled on the floor. Gen. J. Karpinski, who was the commanding officer of all detention facilities in Iraq, stated that the Abu Ghraib prison was under the command of military intelligence and that abuse and mistreatment were, in effect, official policy and that CIA agents were also participating in the interrogations. Let us remember the statements that Eric Fair, who was an interrogator in Abu Ghraib in 2004, issued years later. In his article published last year in the New York Times, Eric Fair said: “I was someone to be proud of. But I am not. I was an interrogator at Abu Gharib. I tortured.”
He stated that he was not at all surprised with the many methods mentioned in the torture report released by the US Senate. He writes, “I am not surprised. I assure you there is more; much remains redacted.” Fair went on to write, “Most Americans haven’t read the report. Most never will. But it stands as permanent reminder of the country we once were.”
The 2006 report on Abu Ghraib, with 1,325 photographs, 93 videos and 660 photos documenting sexual abuse, provided us a very comprehensive view. However, the problem is this data only cover the period between Oct. 18 and Dec. 30, 2003 — a period of two and a half months. The extent of the horrible torture inflicted during the entire period, which lasted eight years, still remains a secret.
The photographs published many years later, showing US soldiers setting alight corpses of insurgents lying in the garden of a house in Fallujah, constitute another aspect of the tragedy. As it must be remembered, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steven Warren said that these photos were not something “they would have expected from their soldiers.” Sadly, that is exactly what the people of the Middle East expected from the US soldiers.
What has been going on in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, one of the greatest disgraces of the Afghanistan war, has almost been completely forgotten. Yemeni detainee Tariq Ba Odah, who’s been on a hunger strike since 2007, and is forcefully fed intravenously by the authorities in the camp, reportedly weighs only 33.5 kg. Claiming that it will only serve to encourage other hunger strikes, the detainee is still not allowed to leave the camp despite his health condition. Currently, Guantanamo — which was expected to be closed ever since Obama began his presidency — is only covered in the media due to these reports.
Let us lay emphasis on a certain point here. It is not possible for us to approve the atrocities committed by Daesh or any other terror group active in the Middle East. What we really want to point out here is the necessity for the US, which condemns the practices of Daesh, and which (quite rightly) condemns those acts as “violent” and “cruel,” to look back at its own policies. The violence carried out in Abu Ghraib, the injustices carried out in Guantanamo, the endless tortures, the US soldiers who kept noses and ears of those they had killed as souvenirs, are concrete facts of the recent past. As a matter of fact, the US, in which 22 US soldiers commit suicide every single day, is bearing the brunt of this past. The animosity against Americans that grew into insanity in the Middle East, on the other hand, has turned into something almost irrevocable. The US is undoubtedly very much responsible for the current mess in the region.
Let us also state one important fact: The US is a great country with a population of good and decent people, and the vast majority of US soldiers are conscientious people. However, it is apparent that there is an egregious mistake in the Middle East policy of the US. So instead of asking, “Where did this violence come from?” the US should first question its own policies. Although violence runs rampant in the Middle East and has become a tragedy of epic proportions, it is still not too late to implement a new policy based on education instead of violence.