A Socialist Labor Party Statement—


An Imperative of Imperialist Domination

Millions of workers in America and around the world were horrified by the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers at the Iraqi Abu Ghraib prison. For some, these outrages committed by American soldiers challenged their ideas about what America is supposed to stand for; for others, these horrendous acts only confirmed their worst fears of what America has come to represent.

Ruling-class elements, politicians and other supporters of capitalism and class rule also expressed indignation over the conduct of the soldiers involved. But theirs were the voices of hypocrisy.

The initial reaction of the Bush administration to these blatant acts of brutality was to blame them on rogue elements in the military while asserting that torture “was the wrongdoing of a few,” words that didn’t wash. A 6,000-page report authored by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba outlining torture and abuses in Iraqi prisons run by the U.S. Army was issued to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld months ago, absolutely confirming what administration sources denied.

The CIA and other agents who actually interrogated prisoners have committed unspeakable acts. They were undocumented and conducted in secrecy. Recent reports record 33 deaths in detention in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most, allegedly, were related to “heart problems,” but nine were due to homicide, of which six were due to “blunt force injuries” and one to multiple gunshot wounds.

This all flies in the face of the statement President Bush made last year on behalf of United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture that the U.S. is “committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example,” challenging all other nations “in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent cruel and unusual punishment.”

In fact, the Bush administration has deliberately made a policy of rejecting the Geneva Conventions on treatment of prisoners. His general counsel for the Department of Defense, William J. Haynes, signed off on the legality of withholding Geneva Convention protections for detainees at the U.S. prison facility at Guantanamo Bay.

To further evade the Geneva Conventions prohibitions against torture, the administration has also taken to “outsourcing” torture. So-called high-value suspects are being sent to client countries that practice extreme torture techniques, such as removal of fingernails and dunking victims in tanks of water. Participants are reportedly Egypt, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Jordan and even Syria, the latter having been cited as a worldwide sponsor of terrorism by the United States. Astounding? Not at all.

The base hypocrisy of the Bush administration rests upon a long tradition of past administrations, both Democratic and Republican. They have been unified by capitalism’s imperialist drive and incessant search for markets and sources of raw materials that mandate torture as an instrument of military coercion.

Indeed, as the mantel of imperialist world domination has successively fallen from France and Britain to the United States so have the brutal tactics that accompany military control and domination. The ferment, constant rebellions and uprisings among the peoples of the Middle East during Anglo-French colonial domination following the arbitrary geographical divisions of the Ottoman Empire now confront American capitalism as a latter-day extension of those rebellions.

Consonant with American capitalism’s decades of leadership among capitalist states in its persistent efforts to subvert nationalist movements and governments that oppose commercial and political domination, the School of the Americas (SOA) was established at Fort Benning, Ga., in 1946. It is run by the U.S. Army and funded by the United States. It is the biggest terrorist training camp in the world. The SOA’s purpose is to train Latin American dictators, murderers and torturers in “appropriate” techniques of getting rid of any opposition that threaten capitalist interests in the Americas. It has trained over 60,000 military goons, dictators and high-level government agents, and, in concert with the CIA, it developed the torture techniques used during the Cold War and the war in Vietnam.

The SOA, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute of Security Cooperation, is a CIA and militarist school of murder and mayhem. The anti-insurgency techniques fostered by this institution have apparently now become standard practice for extracting information and meting out punishment to those in Iraq and Afghanistan—terrorist or not—who align themselves with a rebellious population resisting the imposition of imperialist rule. Bush’s desire to “Change the World” to one in which American capitalism is more secure in its dominance requires force, as we are seeing today in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the threat of force elsewhere around the world. As resistance arises, capitalist forces will deal with it ruthlessly. The tactics of individual or small group resistance characterized as terrorist, suicide bombings, etc., will continue to be used by American capitalism as an excuse to employ its own far more effective forms of terror—massive military assault, torture and even the abrogation of civil liberties in America itself.

The American working class will pay the price as always. Our sons, fathers, wives and daughters have again been plunged into a seething ferment that fosters ruthless and barbarous conduct toward a distant and impoverished people in the interests of capitalism. In the cause of capitalist wars, our youth are being trained not only as killers but now torturers as well. If the working class does not act to end capitalism, capitalism will destroy us, both physically and morally.

The National Executive Committee of the Socialist Labor Party of America unequivocally condemns the use of torture. Its use by the ruling class of U.S. capitalism in its imperialist adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq is only the latest indication that the choice faced by the working classes of the world—capitalism or socialism—is really a choice between barbarism and civilization.

(Adopted by the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Labor Party, June 14, 2004.)


Socialist Labor Party of America, P.O. Box 218, Mountain View, CA 94042-0218 • www.slp.org • socialists@slp.org

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