More fuel on the fire

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.


Centrist. Atlanticist. Dry liberal. Anti-totalitarian. Post-ideological pragmatist. Child of The Enlightenment. Toucan.

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10 comments on “More fuel on the fire
  1. Anonymous says:

    I think you are missing the point about the Abu Ghraib pictures, they are not new. Some even show people (US Servicemen/women) who are currently serving time for their crimes. What is the point of raking over these coals when there is already enough violence and ill feeling in the Muslim world. If it was a new scandal or revelation I’d say fair enough, but this is just rehashing an old story at a bad (or good for the stations rating) time. More riots and deaths may follow.


  2. Citizen Sane says:

    Oh, I know they’re not new (Abu Ghraib was shut down some time ago if I recall): they’re all from the same “batch” as the last lot.

    But I still think it’s important that they are published because:

    1) New offenders may be brought to light
    2) Supression of the reality of what has happened has gone on for long enough. There are still people out there trying to gloss over what really went on. That is a travesty. Publishing the pictures removes any amibiguity except in the eyes of the most ridiculously non-objective toady.

    The argument that they shouldn’t be published to avoid confrontation was exactly the same one used about those Danish cartoons. That argument was wrong then and it’s wrong now.

  3. ph says:

    Clearly the publishing of these pictures should not be supressed, but unfortunately I think that publishing these picyures will lead to even more death injury and misery across the world.
    I too was in favour of the Iraq invasion – the removal of nasty tyrants etc etc. But pragmatically it was probably better to have Saddam in place, as a counter balance to the mad Mullahs in Iran. What we have now is the possibility of Iran causing big trouble (how long will it be before parts of Iraq join them). Unfortunately Iran now seems untouchable, with no chance of any country keeping it in check.
    I have a fear that the middle east and large parts of the Muslim world are slipping into a position where they will be irreconciable with the West

  4. mAc Chaos says:

    Hmm… So the media doesn’t want to publish the cartoons from Denmark from fear of offending Muslims and inciting riots but has no problem tearing open old wounds by throwing Abu Ghraib back into the public spotlight?

  5. Brytta says:

    King George and his court have a clinical mania for secrecy which they falsely believe protects them from scorn, but which usually leads to worse fallout. The firestorm over the torture from the first set of pictures had pretty much run its course but now it’s back again and at the worse possible time (re: Danish cartoons). If all of the pictures had been released in the beginning, Bush wouldn’t have to subject himself to multiple beatings on this subject. This go-round is a self-inflicted wound (unlike those on a certain Texas lawyer).

  6. Citizen Sane says:

    ph – I fear your assessment is spot on. Then again, imagine a Middle East with a potentially resurgent Iran AND an unchecked rogue state headed by Hussein. At least one of them has gone.

    Mac – exactly, it’s nonsense. Both should be published because people have a right to know what is going on.

    Brytta – yep. So the moral of the story is always be open from the outset. Could have avoided a lot of upset at a particularly sensitive time.

  7. ph says:

    I am afraid it is probably better to have two closely matched tyrants than one all powerful one.
    When you have two they spend all their money and waste all their energies hating each other.
    Very bad for their people, but tyrants do seem to have quite a lot of support in the M.E.

  8. Citizen Sane says:

    Plus it’s even worse now because Iran knows for a fact that nobody has the resource or the political will to really do anything about it. Our only option is now. . . sanctions.

    Hmmm. Now, when was that last tried?

  9. H says:

    The question surely is – given that all the current problems were predicted and predictable (US troops stuck in Iraq, no functioning democracy, abuse of power by occupying soldiers, etc) why was anyone in favour of the invasion in the first place????? Did this not have Vietnam, mark 2 written all over it??? The question remains – what has been achieved? King George and Korgi Blair told us it was about WMDs – now we know that was a lie. So maybe it was about freeing the Iraqi people from tyranny, only hold on a second, they are now under occupations. So really what was the point? And what is the point? Maybe it was to help Iran gain the leadership of all muslims as the last true power willing to stand up to the Americans – that seems like sensible foreign policy!

    Citizen – what will it take until it comes the point where the west should get out?

  10. Citizen Sane says:

    what will it take until it comes the point where the west should get out?

    The west will get out in due course. To speed up that process due to events there would be irresponsible, not to mention murderous. If we left now because of the heat, it would be a clear message to the “insurgents” and jihadists. The message would be: your tactics work, so keep it up. Kill more people, recruit more suicide bombers.

    Ditto specifying any kind of leaving date in advance. It would be nothing more than a countdown to bloodshed.

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