As if tensions with the Middle East were not strained enough, the new pictures of abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib should add several gallons of paraffin to an already raging fire. This comes only days after the shocking footage of British soldiers beating the hell out of a group of Iraqi teenagers. Good work everyone. You degenerate thugs.
The Bush Administration has condemned the broadcast of the new images for fear that they might incite violence. No, you should actually be condemning the actions of the people responsible. Except that – Ooops! – that would ultimately be yourselves, seeing as knowledge of these events went right up to the very top of the US executive. In fact, you weren’t only cognisant of the fact, you sanctioned it. Taking responsibility isn’t something that King George and his merry men are very good at, of course– it took five days for VP Dick Cheney to publicly confirm that he had, indeed, shot one of his friends in the face in a messy hunting accident. So the chances of Donald Rumsfeld taking responsibility for this are slender to say the least.
Speaking as someone who supported the invasion of Iraq, I find it particularly dispiriting. The whole post-war ‘plan’ has been disastrous and the news of torture and beatings committed by US and British troops (a minority, of course, but that doesn’t change anything) simply piles on the disgust and horror.
The only positive thing that can possibly be taken away from all this is that action will be taken against those who carried out these appalling acts, whereas Saddam’s henchmen got away with torturing and murdering at the same infamous prison.*
That’s progress – of a kind.
*Nor am I suggesting that the acts depicted in these photos are in the same league as those committed under Saddam’s regime, before anyone picks me up on that. But torture is torture regardless of the grades of extremity.