While the Obama administration is busy in threatening and imposing sanctions on Russia for sending troops to Crimea, it has perhaps forgotten how the United States got away with a more destructive military incursion eleven years ago.
On March 20, 2003, the combined armed forces of the United States of America and the United Kingdom attacked Iraq. It turned out to be one of the worst mistakes in history as the allies found no weapons of mass destruction, which were the basis of the offensive.
More than 112,017 - 122,438 civilian deaths were recorded by Iraq Body Count (IBC) between 20 March 2003 and 14 March 2013 during the Iraq War. Although the conflict came to an end in December 2011, the number of deaths is constantly increasing due to the ongoing insurgency the invasion wrought.
What’s worse, the grave mistake was never acknowledged by the then, or current governments of the Western countries involved in the false cause.
Out of the many gruesome scandals of the Iraq War involving the US government, the Abu Ghraib prison torture stands out.
Tens of thousands of Iraqis were detained by the United States Army and the Central Intelligence Agency without being charged. However, in 2004 it was revealed that the military police personnel was committing gross human rights violations against the detainees that included physical and sexual abuse, torture, rape and also murder.
The disturbing controversy blew up to an extent that on May 7, 2004, the then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had to apologize publicly for the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse:
“These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for them. I take full responsibility. It is my obligation to evaluate what happened, to make sure those who have committed wrongdoing are brought to justice, and to make changes as needed to see that it doesn't happen again. I feel terrible about what happened to these Iraqi detainees.”
“They are human beings. They were in U.S. custody. Our country had an obligation to treat them right. We didn't do that. That was wrong. To those Iraqis who were mistreated by members of U.S. armed forces, I offer my deepest apology. It was un-American. And it was inconsistent with the values of our nation.”
Following the surfacing of the scandal, eleven soldiers were convicted and sentenced to military prisonbetween 2004 and 2006, being dishonorably discharged from service.
However, four former detainees still await justice who claim they were subjected to “electrical shocks, sexual violence and forced nudity” by US military contractor CACI Premier Technology Inc.
Here are some images that are reminiscent of what the US invasion of Iraq wrought:
This image of a prisoner being tortured has become internationally famous, eventually making it onto the cover of The Economist– Wikimedia Commons
A detainee is handcuffed in the nude to a bed and has a pair of panties covering his face. The photograph is taken from inside the cell and at a downward angle – Wikimedia Commons
Abu Ghraib: United States soldier and torture ringleader Charles Graner prepares to punch restrained prisoners.
Garner was sentenced ten years in prison. The man however managed to get out in 2011.
Charles Graner poses over the body of a murdered Iraqi prisoner – Wikimedia Commons
Spc. Charles Graner and Spc. Sabrina Harman pose with naked and hooded prisoners who were forced to form a human pyramid. – Wikimedia commons
Sgt. Ivan Frederick is sitting on an Iraqi detainee between two stretchers. – Wikimedia Commons
This photograph released in 2006 shows several naked Iraqis in hoods, of whom one has the words "I'm a rapeist" (sic) written on his hip. – Wikimedia Commons
A man is intimidated, or threatened, by at least two dogs. – Wikimedia Commons
Graner’s former fiancée, Specialist Lynndie England, was sentenced to three years in prison. In the image above, she is holding a leash attached to a prisoner collapsed on the floor, known to the guards as "Gus." – Wikimedia Commons