Hypocrites of America Crying Foul
Paul Routledge, The Mirror UK, 24 March 2003
NOTHING more clearly illustrates the cruel hypocrisy of America's war against Iraq than Washington's reaction to the news that GIs have been captured.

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld screamed "Geneva Convention! Geneva Convention!" at the Iraqis for showing footage of US soldiers taken on the battlefield.

He thundered that the film was "video propaganda" which violated their rights as prisoners of war under international law.

How two-faced can you get?

Rumsfeld is the warmonger who ignored international legalities when the UN refused to back the invasion of Iraq.

And he ruled that PoWs captured by the Americans in Afghanistan more than a year ago have NO rights, and can be caged like animals at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo, Cuba.

Footage of 300 PoWs airlifted out of Kabul - with bags over their heads and chains on every conceivable part of their body - was jubilantly shown on American TV. The pictures were posted on the Pentagon's website.

That was OK. That was broadcast to satisfy the understandable American desire for revenge for the attack on the Twin Towers.

Yet, it is not OK for Saddam Hussein to take a leaf out of the Yankee book. When he does, he is "evil, evil" and his actions are an outrage.

But 18 months on, the Pentagon's PoWs - including nine Britons - are held as hostages in Camp X-Ray with no access to lawyers or diplomatic representation.

Tony Blair connived in their unlawful treatment, as last night he joined the chorus of condemnation of the Al Jazeera film.

At least the relatives of Edgar from Texas and James Reilly from New York know where their loved ones are. At least they can hope for their release as part of any deal to end hostilities.

The families of the lost legion of Camp X-Ray have no such hope. Only the expectation that the Pentagon will keep their loved ones in barbaric conditions, in clear defiance of the Geneva Convention - until they rot.

Of course, what Saddam is doing is inhuman and degrading. The Geneva Convention forbids the deliberate humiliation of PoWs.

It is typical of his merciless nature and he is wrong to do it.

But two wrongs do not make a right, particularly in the moral maze of this war.

The Americans cannot go round screaming "breach of convention" when it happens to their own, while they humiliate prisoners of the Afghan war on a daily basis.

American culture seeks to deny suffering. Islam, a religion of the desert, almost revels in it.

That's why this conflict is more than simply a clash of arms.

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