It has already been commented on by various U.S. media, including the international broadcasting service Voice of America, financed by the White House. With deep emotion, it praised the U.S. for spending as much as $1.2 million on human rights support in 2006. And of course it mentioned the violators of the said rights, that is, nations defying the very foundations of appropriate world order, according to Washington which has arbitrarily assumed the right to judge others.
Alongside publishing the report, coverage by Voice of America abounded in quotations from Barry F. Lowenkron, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, who eagerly explained what the White House actually wanted. According to him, the U.S. advocates “a free and fair elections process, good transparent governance, and independent media.” “Where these three essential elements of democracy were weak, we worked to strengthen them,” he said. “Where they were under siege, we sought to defend them, and where they were non-existent due to government repression, we spoke out for those who live in fear yet dream of freedom.” Democracy in his opinion helps implement positive changes regardless of a country’s specifics. However, the changes have to be implemented on a long-term basis with due consideration of each country’s needs.
The noble rhetoric is all very well, but one might feel the urge to make sure the good intentions are indeed translated into life. Naturally, one might assume that Iraq should be a truly eloquent example of that, because the U.S. has been promoting human rights and democracy in that country for over 4 years, since March 2003, and some reliable data should be available by now.
Let us not discuss the financial aspect here, as it does not really make any sense to compare the $1.2 billion mentioned in the recent State Department report, and the $374 billion spent on the military operation in Iraq since September 11, 2001, according to the U.S. Congress.
Let us get down directly to the U.S. “humanitarian achievements” in the Gulf.
“The suffering that Iraqi men, women and children are enduring today is unbearable and unacceptable. Their lives and dignity are continuously under threat,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said in its April report on the Iraq crisis. The ICRC, a traditionally neutral and politically correct organization, did not blame anyone for this situation, but described it as disastrous. ICRC experts judged that neither the U.S. Coalition forces, nor the puppet Iraqi government fully dependant on its overseas patron, were doing enough to ensure every individual’s basic right, the right to live.
Even the official Iraqi government agreed with that opinion, reporting the March civilian death toll of 1,861, up 13% compared to February’s level.
Moreover, 655,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq between March 2003 and July 2006, according to last year’s research by the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Baghdad-based Al Mustansiriya University; the Coalition forces were blamed for an estimated 31% of that figure. It follows that over 203,000 Iraqis were killed by Americans and their allies.
However, the White House aggressive democracy advocates (do they know that “democracy” is Greek for “people’s power”?) are not too worried by this minor fact; neither do they care about the opinions of the invaded country’s population.
The Iraqis do not want to live as they are being told by the invaders. The results of the recent opinion poll in Iraq commissioned by a number of Western media including the BBC and USA Today are an eloquent example of that. As many as 58% of the Iraqis polled between February 25 and March 5, said their lives did not changed or worsened compared to the pre-invasion period (42% in 2004); 64% did not see any prospects of improvement in the foreseeable future (15% in 2004); 53% described the U.S. invasion of Iraq as unfair (39% in 2004); 82% said they did not trust the invaders (72% in 2003); 76% did not think the Americans fulfilled their promises and commitments (59% in 2005); 77% negatively assessed the U.S. role (12% approve it); 59% saw the U.S. as a nation which really runs Iraq (24% in 2005); and 78% objected to the U.S. and its allies’ presence in Iraq (51% in 2004).
The real situation thus looks much worse than Washington would like to admit. It is clear from Lowenkron’s comments to the State Department report that the White House cannot help admitting, albeit reluctantly, that it does not have a clean slate either. Still, Washington insists that inappropriate treatment of suspected terrorists is its only fault.
This opinion does not even seem objective. As former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said in February, the U.S. government which allowed thousands of civilians killed, has to pay more attention to America’s global reputation, especially where human rights are concerned.