This ought to make you vomit.

Addendum to an earlier post titled Thank You, America. Here’s the Washington Post’s slideshow of pictures from Abu Ghraib. It’s nasty, and probably not the nastiest pictures, even.

I think if the US Army merely courtmartials these soldiers, it’s a miscarriage of justice. Sad to say but I think it would be much better if they were tied up, hooded, and dropped off, unarmed, in downtown Baghdad with a note explaining who they are. That might defuse things a little bit, America showing that those animals are their own enemy as well as the enemy of the people of Iraq.

But we can’t hope for that to happen, I suppose.

4 thoughts on “This ought to make you vomit.

  1. You know, I was thinking the same thing. We don’t hesitate to spend soldier’s lives in order to acquire and keep territory; and as Der Fuhr…er, President Bush likes to remind us, this is a war for ideological territory in Arab minds. So let’s release these bastards unarmed into the streets of Baghdad. Including officers (and golly, maybe even a cabinet member or two)!

  2. I’m surprised at you two. I like to think of you as reasonable people but here you are advocating the death penalty in a manner which almost certainly also garantees torture. In other words, the punishment for doing something cruel and horrific should be doing something worse to the perpetrators.

    How would that make you better than them? How would it make the world a better place? How would it convince Iraqis that America stands by its principles?


  3. Death penalty it might be… but this is totally different from executing some black guy because he was (hastily) convicted of shooting someone to death in a gas station holdup.

    These “soldiers” performed ridiculously, incredibly stupid acts to prisoners of war in a country that they should never have invaded in the first place; they can, I hope, be assumed to know at least that Iraq in general was hostile to the occupying presence, and that America was from the beginning treading a very fine line there.

    They therefore threatened the lives not only of hundreds of fellow soldiers who will have to face still-more increased hostility; they may have provided a motivation to more people to get out there and kill Americans; and they have potentially pulled a minor linchpin in the whole possiblity of anything peaceful emerging while America was there.

    What needs to happen is that other American soldiers need to know, with no possible doubt, that they had better not do anything like this, or they risk death and torture. They need to know that they must do everything by the book.

    What Iraqis need to know is that these people won’t get a slap on the wrists for what they’ve done. From my experience in Korea, when the American army court-martials soldiers, no matter how open the proceedings are to the media, the native people feel out of touch with it, and denied a chance at assuring their own voice in the delivery of “justice”. How much more so will the Iraqis feel this?

    I agree that the punishment isn’t just; I’m not overly concerned about how just it is, with people as stupid as the soldiers in those photos, or the people running the prison. What I’m concerned with is more pragmatic: when you fuck around with the fate of nations, the costs can often be terrible, but I think visiting that terrible cost on a few morons who potentially caused a lot of harm might be worth it, if (a) it is likely to prevent others from doing equally stupid things in Iraq, and/or (b) it would give Iraqis an understanding that they aren’t merely completely helpless victims under America’s rule.

    Then again, maybe that would just be a propaganda lark anyway… maybe it’d be a workable distraction from the fact that they *are* helpless victims under American occupation. Hm.

  4. I think I can say that there’s no political or legal theory behind my rhetoric, just disgust and a sense that if anyone deserves to be thrown to the wolves, these torturers are they. Or, maybe a small political theory: soldiers lives are not spent according to what would be just for them; they are spent according to what will achieve a specific desired end. If giving the torturers up would credibly discourage some number of future rebellions and bombings, then maybe it’s an acceptable military trade-off.

    As for proving that the US stands by it’s principles, I think we’ve already blown that chance. We sacrificed the due process principle when we went to war in the first place. Instead we need to prove that we’re willing to take Iraqi needs and desires into account, which is not necessarily the same thing.

    But as Gord says, a propaganda lark may be dismissed as just that, so who knows.

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