From 9,000 to 11,000 Iraqi civilians killed (Iraq Body Count)

Tearful Iraqi Muslim women stand behind concertina wire as they protest against the mistreatment of prisoners and demand the release of detainees at the entrance of Abu Ghraib prison, 18.5 miles west of Baghdad May 9. An apology by U.S. President George Bush for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops failed to quell the anger of U.S. allies. Photos: AFP

WASHINGTON ( – A “Culture of Hatred” inside the American civilian leadership, which demonizes and dehumanizes Muslims, Arabs and others, is at the root of the despicable, unfathomable prisoner abuse scandal.

Widely published photographs of grinning American soldiers sexually humiliating naked Iraqi prisoners have provoked outrage and condemnation of the U.S. Iraq war around the world. U.S. officials from President George W. Bush on down have apologized–at last.


The U.S. Senate passed a resolution condemning the behavior May 10. That day in an appearance at the Pentagon, Pres. George W. Bush defended Donald Rumsfeld, his embattled Defense Secretary after seeing one dozen of 1,000 more shocking photographs not yet seen by members of Congress or the public.

“The President’s reaction was one of deep disgust and disbelief that anyone who wears our uniform would engage in such shameful and appalling acts,” Press Secretary Scott McLellan told reporters May 10.

But the White House was rocked again, with revelations that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned the Bush administration of abuse of Iraqi prisoners beginning in March 2003.

The widening scandal–along with the failure to discover “weapons of mass destruction”–has destroyed any moral authority claimed by the United States in its one-year-old invasion and occupation of Iraq, and it has permanently tarnished and discredited America’s claims of moral superiority in the world’s human rights arena.

The soldiers fighting overseas–both the handful of enlisted personnel who have been charged in the prisoner abuse scandal at Final Call press time, and those who have not–are very impressionable, said the leader of the nation’s largest grassroots civil rights organization for Arabs in America, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC).

“I do not believe these soldiers, in and of themselves, would commit such horrendous deeds. I think they have seen examples of leadership in this culture of hate,” Mary Rose Oakar, president of the ADC told reporters May 7.

“This destructive attitude, which is creeping ever closer to the mainstream of American thought, authorizes and legitimates these appalling abuses,” said Ms. Oakar, a former Ohio Democratic Member of the House of Representatives, in a statement co-authored by the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

“It suggests that the West, which is simply good, is at war with the Arab and Islamic worlds, which are simply bad, and stigmatizes Arab Americans and American Muslims. It conflates innocents with criminals, moderates with extremists, and progressives with fundamentalists, casting an entire culture and an entire faith as ‘the enemy,’” the statement said.

Most official inquiries and investigations, however, are taking aim at correcting the “systemic” problems in the U.S. administration and military, while ignoring the “culture of hate” throughout the larger society.

U.S. soldiers stand guard behind a crowd of Iraqi women protesting against the mistreatment of prisoners.

Modern-day Crusades
But American hatred toward Muslims and Arabs is not lost in world public opinion.

“All the slogans and objectives fabricated by the U.S. administration regarding the so-called ‘operation to liberate Iraq’ have evaporated,” reads an editorial in Egypt’s Al-Jumhuriyah, “the time has come for the world to know that what the U.S. is doing in Iraq is total occupation, mockery and slavery.”

“When torture, rape and degradation become the adopted tool to break down the will of the national Iraqi forces and abort the resistance, this becomes a clear indication that those responsible for the political and moral direction of the U.S. occupation forces suffer from moral bankruptcy,” said an editorial in the Palestinian journal Al-Quds.

“The similarities between the Vietnam and Iraq wars include the fact that the U.S. went to war in both cases based on illusory perceptions and ignorant of national realities and the independence of the two peoples. The American people did not realize the magnitude of its entanglement in a long-standing and costly war except when it was too late. This was due to the deception by the U.S. leadership,” said a commentary by Dr. Bashir Musa Nafi, in Al-Quds Al-Arabi, published in London.

Americans, on the other hand, largely believe that their country’s military personnel in Iraq are patriotic and well-meaning. The U.S. military and the public which supports it have been badly misled into the Iraq war and the troops are being poorly commanded.

The human rights abuses and prison scandal, unexpectedly strong military resistance from Iraqi insurgents throughout the country, and the war’s ballooning price tag have opened a debate inside this country. A debate that finds published reports of open dissension growing among senior military staff and a declaration by a key supporter of the Bush war in Congress that it may already be “un-winnable,” unless that is, the U.S. pours in tens of thousands more troops.

“We cannot prevail in this war as it is going today,” Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a former Marine who is one of most strongly pro-military members of the House Armed Services Committee told The Washington Post. “Today, our forces in Iraq are undermanned, under-resourced, inadequately trained and poorly supervised. There’s a lack of leadership stemming from the very top,” Mr. Murtha said.

Starting at the Pentagon, there’s Gen. William Boykin, the Deputy Undersecretary for Defense Intelligence, according to ADC. Gen. Boykin said of a Muslim Somali military leader: “I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”

In June 2003, just four months before the despicable acts pictured in the first round of photographs of humiliation at Abu Ghraib prison took place in Iraq, Gen. Boykin spoke, in uniform, before a Christian group in the U.S. where he claimed that “radical Islamists” hate America “because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian… and the enemy is a guy named Satan.” Despite protests, Gen. Boykin remains in office.

According to ADC, back in 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft told columnist Cal Thomas, “Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you, while Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him.”

Other examples of how anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments are spreading throughout many U.S. institutions include:

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) who called American Muslims “an enemy living amongst us” and said that “no (American) Muslims are cooperating” with law enforcement officials to combat terrorism.

Rev. Jerry Falwell told the CBS news program “60 Minutes” that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was a “terrorist.”

Televangelist Pat Robertson said Islam’s Holy Prophet (PBUH) was a “killer” and a “brigand” and said that Islam is inherently violent.

The Rev. Franklin Graham, head of Billy Graham Industries, Inc., who led the prayer at President Bush’s inauguration, has repeatedly denounced Islam calling it “a very wicked, evil religion.”

And right-wing talk-radio “has become a bastion of hatred, rage and incitement to violence against Arabs and Muslims,” said the ADC.

“The neo-conservatives would like to pit Christianity and Islam as enemies of each other, and we are not about to fight the Crusades all over again,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said May 3, just days before the prisoner humiliation scandal spilled over to the world’s front pages. America’s hatred of Islam cannot prosper, however, Min. Farrakhan warned.

“If America turns away from (the) principle of justice and does what she is doing because she has the power to do it, then Allah–Who grants power–will take it from America and bring another nation in her place,” said the leader of the Nation of Islam, which has been in America for 71 years.

Winning the Iraq battle, but losing the war
The deterioration of American prestige resulting from this prisoner abuse scandal could be permanent, many analysts agree.

Military leaders now openly question their leaders at the Pentagon. U.S. forces “may be winning battles in Iraq, but losing the war,” according to the Washington Post. The U.S. cannot “win the peace,” however, and faces an inevitable defeat, an Australian general predicted in a report published by the Sun Herald. The U.S. “coalition” is quickly unraveling, and seeing it for what it really is.

On May 4, 60 former U.S. diplomats signed a letter to Mr. Bush contending that his “unabashed support” for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is also costing the U.S. credibility and friends. “Maybe, in this year, the disaster that is American intervention in Iraq will finally get through to people, that there is a connection, that the Iraq thing would not have gone so badly if we had been seen in the region as being genuinely interested in upholding the rights and dignity of the Palestinians as well as the Israelis,” said Carleton Coon, a former ambassador to Nepal according to published reports.

If the Iraq war is eventually considered “un-winnable” by U.S. policymakers, then each death after May 2004 can be counted as unnecessary. May 2004 is when a warning was loudly articulated against the war by a prominent Congressional supporter of the President.

Because of his rush to war based on now discredited intelligence, the blood of each casualty in Iraq can be laid at the feet of George W. Bush, warned Min. Farrakhan. “The anti-war demonstrators will blame every death of an American service person and every death of an Iraqi citizen on you and this will produce a crisis for your administration within the United States of America as well as in countries throughout the world,” the Muslim leader said, pleading with Mr. Bush to seek “a better way.”

The neo-conservative idea which dominates U.S. policies believes “America must reshape the world in America’s image or be shaped in the image of the world,” said Minister Farrakhan. “Once the American people understand the agenda of the neo-conservatives” however, they too will realize that it “would be foolish (of them) to send (their) children to die for that which is against the best interests of America, but in the best interest of Israel.”

At this point in time, it’s hard to imagine how things could get any worse, unless the U.S. escalates its war in Iraq, seeking an outright military conquest there. “The coalition that you are gathering will fall away from you and you will have to pursue this war alone,” the international Muslim leader predicted in a letter to Pres. Bush, dated Dec. 1, 2001.

“I am afraid that this extended war may take a turn that you and your advisors least expect, and involve America in the greatest of all wars, the War of Armageddon, in which no nation will be left out, including Russia and China,” he continued in his letter.

Instead, Mr. Bush continues to escalate the country’s belligerent foreign policy. After a May 6 appearance on two Arab-language tv networks which earned him mostly scorn in the Arab world, Mr. Bush spoke openly to reporters about a “regime change” in Cuba and, at Final Call press time, he was preparing to impose economic sanctions against Syria.