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Home > News > Report

US leaders to blame for abuse in Iraq: author

Arthur J Pais in New York | May 24, 2004 13:38 IST

Professor Mahmood Mamdani isn't surprised at all that a handful of American soldiers and prison guards went berserk at the Abu Gharib prison in Iraq, torturing and humiliating the prisoners of war.

"It was an illegal war to start with," said Mamdani, a professor at Columbia University in New York and author ofGood Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror(Pantheon).

He was addressingabout a hundredpeoplewho came to listen to him at a meeting organised by the South Asian Journalists Associationin New York last week.

If the American leaders thought nothing about the naked aggression against Iraq, he said, it should not be surprising that its soldiers went around their business without a sense of right and wrong, he said.

A vociferous critic ofAmerican foreign policy,Mamdani's bookrepeatedlywarnsAmericans that 9/11 and its aftermath wasthe result of the unfinished business of theCold War.

Unable to intervene directly in countries like Mozambique and Nicaragua which it perceived as Soviet puppets, America "harnessed terror to win the Cold War," he said.

Another obvious example was when America recruited and armed thousands of mercenaries and anti-Communist Muslim extremists to fight the Russians in Afghanistan.The ascendancy of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden started during the last years of the Soviet control of Afghanistan, he said.

While his book echoes the thoughts of many leftwing writers including Tariq Ali, Mamdani says his book is differentbecause it connects American actions in a number of countries including Nicaragua and discusses how it bred terror, leading to some of the terrorists turning their weapons against America.

Hequestionsthe assertions of thinkers like Bernard Lewis, who believe that secular and pro-Western Muslims are the good ones while those who oppose American policies are bad ones.

"The book is about America," he said. "It is written for those who accept their politics from CNN." It seeks to take the readers"where CNN does not point its cameras."

Describing9/11as a historical turning point, he said his book wasabout theprice America had to pay for winning the Cold War. "It is also about what America has become in the process of winning the Cold War."

Mamdani, whose forefathers migrated to Africa from India over a hundredyears ago, considers himselfan African nationalist. He has been expelled twice from Uganda for being an Asian, he points out, stressing the irony.

Hehas taught at a number of prestigious American universities including Princeton has homes in New York and Kampala with his wife, (Monsoon Wedding) director Mira Nair. His book is written largely from an African perspective, he says.

Accusingthe Reagan administration for filling the Cold War with"theological rhetoric," he said the former US president brought "the theological knowledge of evil into politics." When Reagan declared the Soviet Union to be an evil empire, he explained, it meant that the evil had to be destroyed.

In backing mercenaries in Nicaragua and Africa and international jihadis in Afghanistan, he said, American "privatised the war."

Many of these warriors received money and arms from America even though they were known to be anti-Americanbecause at one point Washington found them extremely useful against the Russians. Some of these warriors waited for just a few years before turing theirire onAmerica, he said.

The era of proxy wars has come to an end with the invasion of Iraq," he notes. "And there, as in Vietnam, America will need to recognise that it is not fighting terrorism but nationalism. And the battle against nationalism cannot be won by occupation."





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Number of User Comments: 3




Sub: War on Iraq

Champions of Democracy a farse the most uncivilised country in the world which has originated from barbarism.


Posted by vijay





Sub: George.W. Bush and Tony Blaire are sinners!

Though, I strongly condemn the terrorits of any part, a bit of common sense will say that the U.S. President, George W. Bush and Mr. ...


Posted by B.Gautam





Sub: excellent..

The American's are the real culprits and they are the ones who are still breeding the terrorists. Look at the way they are turning a ...


Posted by Ramanthan




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