Kommentar

Det som utmerker USAs kamp mot terror, er ikke bruddene på lover og regler, men heller at man har vært tilbakeholden. I hvert fall hvis man sammenliger med hvordan opprørere er blitt bekjempet helt opp til vår tid.

Det hevder senior-forsker ved Council on Foreign Relations, Max Boot, i en artikkel, etter å ha lest to nye bøker om britenes kamp mot Mau-Mau-bevegelsen i Kenya på 50-tallet.

In the early ’50s, the Mau Mau movement challenged British colonial rule in Kenya. Though it became a byword for savagery, Mau Mau was actually pretty restrained as guerrilla movements go. Its 20,000 adherents killed fewer than 100 Europeans and 2,000 African loyalists – fewer than the 9/11 toll. Unlike Iraqi rebels, the Mau Mau had no outside support and no sophisticated weapons. Unlike Al Qaeda, they didn’t target the British homeland.

Yet the British used disturbingly harsh tactics against them, as revealed in two new books – «Histories of the Hanged,» by David Anderson of Oxford University, and «Imperial Reckoning,» by Caroline Elkins of Harvard.

The British admitted killing 11,000 Mau Mau, but the real figure, these authors make clear, was much higher. Security forces held hundreds of thousands of suspects without trial in a system of penal camps known as the Pipeline. Unlike Gitmo detainees, who receive three meals a day and medical care, prisoners in the Pipeline were half-starved, worked to the point of collapse, and sickened by poor sanitation. Torture was standard during interrogation and wasn’t what passes for «torture» in anti-American screeds today – such as stepping on a Koran. «The screening teams whipped, shot, burned, and mutilated Mau Mau suspects,» according to Ms. Elkins. Some men were forcibly castrated or sodomized. Others were beaten to death or summarily executed.

Little distinction was drawn between guerrillas and civilians. The Mau Mau were primarily Kikuyu, Kenya’s largest ethnic group, and the British detained nearly all 1.5 million of them.Men, women, and children were forced off their homesteads at gunpoint. Those not sent to the Pipeline were herded into villages surrounded by barbed wire where they had to endure forced labor while denied adequate food or medical care. Many women were gang-raped by guards.

Denne historien er svært lite kjent. Både i omfang og brutalitet. Men den er dessverre ikke enestående:

There was really nothing unusual about the British counterinsurgency strategy. It was similar to methods used by the British in South Africa during the Boer War (1899-1902) and in Malaya (1948-1960), by the French in Algeria (1954-1962), by the Dutch in Indonesia (1945-1949), and by the Americans in the Philippines (1899-1902). These Western democracies weren’t guilty of genocide, à la Hitler or Pol Pot, but they did commit brutality light-years beyond anything at Abu Ghraib, much less Gitmo.

Siden 911 er 50.000 mistenkte arrestert. Av dem er 27 avgått ved døden på en ikke-naturlig måte, og rundt 100 er blitt mishandlet, viser tallene til militære etterforskere. Trolig er de høyere. Men de blekner i forhold til gerilja-bekjempelse for bare 50 år siden.

Det sier noe om hvor mye verden har forandret seg. I Vietnam snakket man om at amerikanerne sloss med en arm på ryggen. Soldatene fikk aldri frie hender. Kanskje man skulle ønsket at pressen ikke var der. Vietnam er historiens første TV-dekkede krig. Det påvirket opinionen sterkt. Slik det også gjør i Irak. Dette er i enda høyere grad en mediekrig. Det var soldatenes egne bilder fra Abu Ghraib som felte dem. Det er litt for enkelt bare å sammenligne med tidligere tiders grusomheter. Da blekner dagens. Men enda verre er den motsatte tendens: å si at amerikanernes praksis minner om gulag. Da har man forlatt virkelighetens verden.

Det kan virke som om det tilfredsstiller et psykologisk behov å dra slike sammenligninger. Det gir fordømmelsen en moralsk autoritet den ellers ikke ville hatt. Er dette PR-folkenes vei inn i menneskrettsarbeidet? Effektivt i nuet, og totalt ødeleggende for en selv i det lange løp.

Terror-suspect treatment in perspective