Anyone who pays any attention to the news at all is wellaware of the mess the Americans have sunken into in Iraq.Each day seems to get worse as the plans of the arrogantBush cartel in Washington continue to unravel. One mightsay that they have developed a Midas touch, though notfor making gold. Whether one voted for the guy or not,every day this fiasco continues Canadians should thankJean Chrétien for keeping us out of it.

The hottest issue in the press the last few weeks hasbeen the prisoner abuse scandal. Reports have come outtracing the responsibility for this as high as Secretaryof Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Meanwhile, Rumsfeld’sPentagon is scrambling to put a lid on it, hoping to capit with the conviction of a few junior personnel and acouple of sacrificial officers.

The rallying cry formany seems to be “it was the work of only a few badapples.” Don’t believe it. Those guards whose necks arenow in the noose for this may have used bad judgment anddone things that they had no business doing, but theycertainly did not dream it up on their own. We know thatthe Bush administration in its contemptuous disregard forhuman rights and decent conduct deemed the prisoners thatit was taking in the so called war on terror as notcovered by the Geneva Convention. It did this againstthe advice of its own military lawyers and Secretary ofState Colin Powell. Then it extended the policy to Iraq.The policy and those who made it, not the lower rankingsoldiers are to blame.

And what about those who made up this policy, are theythe extent of the problem? No. The problem here issystemic, brutal methods that surfaced in Iraq andAfghanistan have been part of standard operatingprocedures for decades in some branches of the U.S.government. It may be beyond the pale for most U.S.soldiers to engage in this kind of activity, and thepublic may be shocked when it becomes as widely known asit has in Iraq, but beneath the surface in the moreclandestine functions of the government it has been astaple all along.

We need go no further than the history of the U.S. in LatinAmerica to see examples of this policy at work — an areawhere some of the torture techniques we have seen in Iraqwere used years earlier. At Fort Benning, Georgia thereis the Western Hemisphere Institute for SecurityCooperation, better known as the School of the Americas.Here officers from various Latin American countries weretrained in torture techniques and other methods ofrepression — skills that they put into practice fromGuatemala to Chile and Argentina, at times with the fullknowledge and cooperation, even instigation, of U.S.agents. The stories of murder, rape and torture in thesecountries are legion, and bloody fingers point to U.S.involvement. It is no surprise that similar activitiesnow appear in U.S.-controlled Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the end of World War II we had a chance to make adifferent world. Instead, we let it decline into thesorry state that we see now as the sacrifices made by somany in that war are debased and frittered away.Activities that were once righteously condemned are nowpracticed by the children and grandchildren of those whogave so much to end them.

Canada is wise to have stayed out of the conquest ofIraq. To have joined would have wasted Canadian livesfor naught and seriously jeopardized our nationalreputation by associating us with the barbaric policiesof the United States. Some Conservative/Alliancepoliticians have said that we belong beside the Americansin Iraq. They might think that we could make adifference. In the face of an overpowering ally, such athought is pure fantasy. Perhaps they even think thatthe Bush cartel agenda of world domination is a good oneand hope for Canada to buy a piece of the pie with theblood of its forces.

Most Canadians wisely opposed the invasion of Iraq. It ishoped that they will use that same wisdom carefully whenchoosing who to represent them in the upcoming generalelection.