politics, history and the war on terror
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
No Excuses. None. 

The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh details the ongoing investigation of the allegations of abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers while at the Abu Ghraib prison. The soldiers involved, in their infinite wisdom, actually had the nerve to photograph some of these disgusting events. These unconscionable acts of humiliation have not only harmed the individuals who were cruelly treated, but gave our enemy an enormous propaganda victory both at home an abroad. Among the American public, incidents such as this cause distrust of the military, play into the worst stereotypes of our soldiers and invoke images of My Lai, which in turn can weaken support for the war. In the Muslim world, the pictures of Americans abusing the Iraqis reinforces the notion that Iraq is part of the American Crusade against Islam, and the humiliation of all Muslims in this manner is the ultimate goal. Muslims on the fence may be steered to radical Islam based on the photographs alone, and at the very least these photographs provide excellent recruiting material for the jihadis. In Iraq, the trust of the Iraq people will fall and relations between the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraq Governing Council will be strained, and American troops may be at further risk, as it is possible victim's family members may target them in revenge.

While many bemoan the excessive attention paid to the actions of American soldiers while the crimes of Arab dictators, such as Saddam, were barely worth a mention, there is no excuse for the soldiers' failure to respect the rights of these Iraqis. As Americans, we will always be held to a higher standard, and we must live up to them, as unfair as this may seem. We should never lower our standards to those of Saddam or any other oppressive dictatorship in the region. Torture and the denial of human decency have no place in American democracy, and we will never be successful in our mission to promote democrat reform if we fail to live up to our principles.

President Bush, as well as members of the military leadership, condemned the illegal actions of these rouge soldiers, and demanded an immediate investigation:

"Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people. That's not the way we do things in America. I didn't like it one bit...............I share a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated."

The actions of these soldiers are in no way indicative of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. If found guilty of these crimes, the U.S. Army must punish all of those responsible to the maximum extent of the law. The trials must demonstrate both to soldiers and Muslims that these acts will not be tolerated. Reforms in the Iraqi jails maintained by Americans should be implemented immediately. The damage may already have been done, but we must do our best to ensure no further abuses will occur. It is not too late to regain the trust of the Iraqi people if we demonstrate that, unlike Saddam, we will punish those who commit crimes against the Iraqi people.

Update:

See Phil Carter's post on Abu Ghraib at Intel Dump for analysis from the perspective of a former Army MP officer and current law student.

Ilya Shapiro asks why human rights groups such Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as the United Nations Human Rights Commission, are so quick to judge the actions of the United States?


Posted by bill roggio @ 12:05 AM

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