The inevitable fruits of empire - Journal of Omnifarious
May. 9th, 2004
10:07 pm - The inevitable fruits of empire
When I learned of the abuses in the Iraqi prison, I was initially shocked and horrified. Then, after some thought, I realized that it was inevitable.
Our attack on Iraq was never about liberation. It was about empire. If it had been about liberation, we would've gone through the prison evaluating people to see if they were actual criminals or political prisoners, and we would've promptly released all the political prisoners. But, no, our reaction was to interrogate them for information. We weren't interested in the freedom of the Iraqi people or the abuses committed under the governance of Sadam Hussein. No, we were interested in the fact that he'd stopped doing what we told him to do. We wanted a country in the Middle East that would do what we told them to.
It's not surprising that given that kind of message from the people above them, that the people we put in charge of the prison started treating the prisoners with the same lack of respect for them as human beings as they'd been treated previously. That prison was essentially the same facility, with the same purpose, just with different owners.
This is what empire is about. This is not what liberation looks like. This is why we have people in Iraq who never liked Sadam Hussein rising up against us and fighting a guerrilla war supported by the population at large.
In fact, whenever we take it upon ourselves to act as 'liberators', this is what will happen. Oppressed people lose their dignity when someone else frees them without their help. It shatters their culture or deprives them of the chance to form a working one of their own if it has already been shattered. Having someone else liberate your body does nothing for the shackles you've made for yourself in your mind.
Given this, we should be thankful that the people of Iraq are trying to take it back over from us. If we want truly free people there, we want people who are willing to fight (violently, or non-violently) and die for what they have.