Saturday, June 05, 2004

On the nature of warriors and the responsibility of protection

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Beating Specialist Baker
If the U.S. military treats one of its own soldiers this way — allowing him to be battered, and lying to cover it up — then imagine what happens to Afghans and Iraqis.

President Bush attributed the problems uncovered at Abu Ghraib to "a few American troops who dishonored our country." Mr. Bush, the problems go deeper than a few bad apples.

An ironic title for this article -- remember "Finding Private Ryan"?

Kristoff never mentions ethnicity, but a white soldier would have made an unconvincing terrorist in this exercise. I wonder about the ethnicity of the other soldiers in this training exercise.

This was an accident in training. There are a few lessons, none suprising. Our soldiers are young, strong, and as violent as most young, strong, males. The people who set up this training exercise showed poor judgment. The army covers up its mistakes. The survivors of mistakes get "blamed" for the mistake.

In such a world it is not surprising that Iraqi prisoners will be abused at least as badly as American prisoners in the worst US jails. The only protection is law, lawyers, an observant press and the power of shame.

American politicians have removed much of the protection of law from US prisons. The Bush regime has removed it from US POWs. Since this is the only protection from abuse that will otherwise occur, it is Bush and his leadership that bear full responsibility for these abuses -- not a handful of soldiers.

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