Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Ivan Eland: Torturing Iraq in an Unnecessary War

Torturing Iraq in an Unnecessary War


By Ivan Eland*
May 4, 2004

The humiliation, abuse, torture and perhaps even murder of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. and British forces have enormous implications—if the American and British publics choose not to deny them. In the “us” versus “them” climate that wars often bring, however, excusing or downplaying abuses by “our team” is quite common. In the current Iraq prison scandal, many American newspapers—including the flagship New York Times—buried the shocking photos of Iraqi prisoners being humiliated and tortured in their interior pages. American newspapers and media outlets, conscious of the bottom-line, know that their readers and viewers feel uncomfortable when being exposed to gross misconduct by “Team USA,” especially when many prisoners should already have been released in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention. A U.S. Army report noted that more than 60 percent of the civilian inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison were deemed to be no threat to society. Unfortunately for the Anglo-American war cause, the rest of the world’s newspapers and media outlets showcased the story of prisoner abuse rather than burying it.

The British and American governments attempted to quell the uproar by deeming the abuse an isolated incident among the many valiant Anglo-American military men and women of high ethical standards. But Brigadier General Mark Kimmit, the spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, said that he couldn’t rule out such abuses in other U.S.-operated prisons in Iraq. After all, the entire Iraqi prison system was supervised by one person—Brigadier General Janis Karpinsky—who was relieved of her command by the Army. And undoubtedly U.S. military intelligence and CIA interrogators frequented most or all of the prisons—trolling for information that would be of help furthering the counterinsurgency.

Seymour Hersh, a journalist who exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and has investigated the abuses in Iraq’s prisons for the New Yorker, concluded, “The 372nd’s [a reserve military police unit] abuse of prisoners seemed almost routine—a fact of Army life that the soldiers felt no need to hide.” Hersh’s statement is dramatically illustrated by the photos taken of Iraqi prisoners being tortured and humiliated. It was conscientious British soldiers who gave photos to the British press of their fellow soldiers beating an Iraqi prisoner with rifle butts. The soldiers said that the horrific treatment of Iraqi prisoners was widespread, and that the coalition was fighting a losing war because of the fierce opposition such abuse generated in Iraq. Now the photos have circled the globe, acting as a magnet to recruit jihadists—inflamed by the sexually explicit humiliation of prisoners in a conservative Islamic culture—to the fight in Iraq.

For the sake of argument, however, let’s assume that the U.S. and British governments are correct that the Abu Ghraib incident is an aberration, not the rule. Are the top echelons of the U.S. and British governments absolved of guilt? Quite the contrary. In any unnecessary war, the leaders of the attacking side are morally responsible for all deaths in the enemy military: accidental killings of civilians (the military euphemism is “collateral damage”) as well as abuses by rogue elements of those same groups toward enemy prisoners. The military leaders set up the situation in which the deaths and abuse occurred.

And there is little doubt that this war was unnecessary. After no “weapons of mass destruction” were found and allegations arose that the Bush administration had twisted and exaggerated intelligence to make its case for war, the administration’s changing emphasis on its justifications for the invasion should be a hint that the invasion of Iraq was a “war of choice”—a euphemism for an unnecessary war. Already, the sins of this quagmire are many. The moral bankruptcy of torturing and abusing Iraqi prisoners, many of whom may have done nothing wrong, can be added to the ever-growing pile.

***********

*Ivan Eland is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute in Oakland, CA., and author of the book, Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World. For further articles and studies, see the War on Terrorism and OnPower.org.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news