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Totally Shocking -

betal_nut - Thu, 06 May 2004 21:05:19 +0530
These pictures and the accounts are shocking...
nabadip - Thu, 06 May 2004 21:12:01 +0530
Can you tell some more before I have to be shocked too, esp how what is seen relates to Gaudiya discussions?
betal_nut - Thu, 06 May 2004 21:13:43 +0530
Well, I wanted to post it in the secular news section here but was unable. Thus I posted it here.
nabadip - Thu, 06 May 2004 21:33:05 +0530
In an article of today's New York Times this was said:

"Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, has told one Bush adviser that he believes that it will take a generation for the United States to live this scandal down in the Arab world."

At least the typical American short-sightedness gets a treatment from another part of the world.
Hari Saran - Fri, 07 May 2004 00:52:03 +0530
I was listening to the radio news this morning and that shocked me too.

Disgusting, but true:

Besides various efforts tortures are still part of our "human civilization".

Both A & I are responsable mad.gif
Gaurasundara - Fri, 07 May 2004 09:14:09 +0530
QUOTE(betal_nut @ May 6 2004, 03:35 PM)
These pictures and the accounts are shocking...


Someone posted me a URL the other day with other "shocking" pics.

But what is the point of discussing this subject here?
adiyen - Fri, 07 May 2004 12:36:23 +0530
Very tame. High school pranks.

Is this the only problem in the world?

What a beat-up! Who cares what 'the arab world' thinks?

And it appears that the main perpetrator and the supervising General who had ultimate responsibility, were both women.

That's the real point, Betelnut, that these great Arab macho-men were humiliated by women. How culturally insensitive!

Did you also hear that this went on while the same soldiers were being daily shelled by mortars outside the prison, ocassionally killed by snipers? It's a wonder they only took a few harmless pics and a pranks. Any self-respecting arab would have burnt the prisoners alive and dragged their naked bodies thru the streets, of course!

Perspective, people!
jatayu - Fri, 07 May 2004 12:53:08 +0530
QUOTE(adiyen @ May 7 2004, 07:06 AM)
Perspective, people!

Time to open a Radha Krishna Temple in Bagdhad with a real strong Kirtan party and prasadam distribution. Volunteers come forward! Sponsors come forward!
braja - Fri, 07 May 2004 12:57:57 +0530
QUOTE(adiyen @ May 7 2004, 03:06 AM)
Very tame. High school pranks.

Er, 25 deaths in custody, 2 confirmed murders* (perpetrators were fired but not charged), sodomy, sodomy with light stick, and one of the nasty Arabs in the photos who was told to masturbate and put another man's penis in his mouth had made the terrible crime of travelling without his papers. Yeah, pretty tame.

Why bring the macho thing into it anyway? Would your response have been different if they were women?

* not including this: "They stressed him out so bad that the man passed away. They put his body in a body bag and packed him in ice for approximately 24 hours in the shower in 1B. The next day the medics came in and put his body on a stretcher, placed a fake IV in his arm and took him away. This O.G.A. was never processed and therefore never had a number."
Madhava - Fri, 07 May 2004 16:07:25 +0530
A hell of a high scholl you went to, Adiyen!
Jagat - Fri, 07 May 2004 16:22:03 +0530
Came across the following quotation yesterday: The Marquis de Talleyrand made this famous observation about a particularly scandalous act by Napoleon Bonaparte: ''It was worse than a crime. It was a mistake.''

Whatever the degree of moral rightness or wrongness of these stupid Americans' activities, when placed in the context of the morally-right savior civilization coming to show the benighted heathens how to run their affairs, it was a huge, perhaps irreversible mistake.
Jagat - Fri, 07 May 2004 17:44:26 +0530
At the beginning of this Iraq business, I went against my liberal and pacifist instincts to side with the rhetoric of exporting democracy. Much as I hate the narrow-minded American constituency represented by Bush (see America's Fundamental Sin of Abuse), I felt that the American historical commitments to the values expressed in their own constitution would outweight all the evils that such an imperialist act would inevitably entail. Though I continued to hold onto this hope for the longest time, I have to say that the accumulation of stupid acts on the part of the Americans has astonished me to the point that I am ready to admit that the whole adventure has been a disaster. If we analyze the results from the baseline of the war on terrorism, at this point anyway, it has been a failure.

There are so many points of criticism. In this particular instance, American racism plays an important role. Like most imperialists, Americans have a deep disdain for the people they conquer, encapsulated in the concept of a "civilizing mission." The ordinary American soldier is sorely limited in the kind of sophistication needed to navigate cultural differences of any kind, but the accumulation of anti-Islamic propaganda, as well as Manichaean rhetoric, have tacitly condoned actions such as those exposed in the recent "abuses" of prisoners.
Jagat - Fri, 07 May 2004 17:49:16 +0530
Been listening to Rush Limbaugh, Adiyen?

Rush Limbaugh compared the prison torture to "a college fraternity prank," like a Skull and Bones initiation.
Jagat - Fri, 07 May 2004 18:02:04 +0530
It is right to attribute the despicable behaviour of guards at Abu Ghraib prison to a "failure of military leadership," but the sights might be aimed higher still.

The U.S. administration, by demonstrating contempt for international law and the Geneva Conventions, has given tacit approval to similar attitudes being adopted by the rank and file.

U.S. President George W. Bush and his circle have said that this is not the American way. Yet they have been laying the groundwork for it to become so.

In the summer of 2002, George W. Bush explained that the reason the United States would not support the United Nations International Criminal Court created to hear cases involving war crimes was because he feared that U.S. soldiers would be dragged "into this court and that's very troubling."

At the time, I thought this to be a far-fetched and unlikely prospect. Now, I see his point.
Jagat - Fri, 07 May 2004 18:40:49 +0530
Polly Toynbee in the Guardian. I identify with Fred Halliday mentioned in this op-ed piece.
braja - Fri, 07 May 2004 19:02:01 +0530
Colonialism and sexual decadence:

Among the corrosive lies a nation at war tells itself is that the glory -- the lofty goals announced beforehand, the victories, the liberation of the oppressed -- belongs to the country as a whole; but the failure -- the accidents, the uncounted civilian dead, the crimes and atrocities -- is always exceptional. Noble goals flow naturally from a noble people; the occasional act of barbarity is always the work of individuals, unaccountable, confusing and indigestible to the national conscience.


But listen more closely. "And it's really a shame that just a handful can besmirch maybe the reputations of hundreds of thousands of our soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines. . . . " said Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday.

Reputation, image, perception. The problem, it seems, isn't so much the abuse of the prisoners, because we will get to the bottom of that and, of course, we're not really like that. The problem is our reputation. Our soldiers' reputations. Our national self-image. These photos, we insist, are not us.

But these photos are us. Yes, they are the acts of individuals (though the scandal widens, as scandals almost inevitably do, and the military's own internal report calls the abuse "systemic"). But armies are made of individuals. Nations are made up of individuals. Great national crimes begin with the acts of misguided individuals; and no matter how many people are held directly accountable for these crimes, we are, collectively, responsible for what these individuals have done. We live in a democracy. Every errant smart bomb, every dead civilian, every sodomized prisoner, is ours.

And more. Perhaps this is just a little cancer that crept into the culture of the people running Abu Ghraib prison. But stand back. Look at the history. Open up to the hard facts of human nature, the lessons of the past, the warning signs of future abuses.

These photos show us what we may become, as occupation continues, anger and resentment grows and costs spiral. There's nothing surprising in this. These pictures are pictures of colonial behavior, the demeaning of occupied people, the insult to local tradition, the humiliation of the vanquished. They are unexceptional. In different forms, they could be pictures of the Dutch brutalizing the Indonesians; the French brutalizing the Algerians; the Belgians brutalizing the people of the Congo.

Look at these images closely and you realize that they can't just be the random accidents of war, or the strange, inexplicable perversity of a few bad seeds. First of all, they exist. Soldiers who allow themselves to be photographed humiliating prisoners clearly don't believe this behavior is unpalatable. Second, the soldiers didn't just reach into a grab bag of things they thought would humiliate young Iraqi men. They chose sexual humiliation, which may recall to outsiders the rape scandal at the Air Force Academy, Tailhook and past killings of gay sailors and soldiers.

A Wretched New Picture of America
betal_nut - Fri, 07 May 2004 20:54:44 +0530
Why bring the macho thing into it anyway? Would your response have been different if they were women?

Exactly! Imagine if these photos were of American women, naked, humiliated and tortured by Iraqis. Everyone would be crying "RAPE!".
The fact remains that this is RAPE and the perpetrators should be tried with the crime of rape, sexual battery.

Also, America's concept of "democracy" has less to do with how a government is run than with the popular culture of any given country.

There are so many countries in the world with a "democratic" government. Arab/Muslim majority countries included. India is even a political "democracy".
But what I see America constantly doing is superimposing their own pop-culture "values" on other countries in the name of "democracy".

Those pop-culture values would be things like "rugged individualism", etc.

Nothing wrong with rugged individualism but politically democratic countries like India do not equate that with "democracy". Nor is rugged individualism highly valued in a country like India.
Anand - Fri, 07 May 2004 22:27:58 +0530
Exactly!  Imagine if these photos were of American women, naked, humiliated and tortured by Iraqis.  Everyone would be crying "RAPE!". 
The fact remains that this is RAPE and the perpetrators should be tried with the crime of rape, sexual battery. 

Also, America's concept of "democracy" has less to do with how a government is run than with the popular culture of any given country.

There are so many countries in the world with a "democratic" government.  Arab/Muslim majority countries included.  India is even a political "democracy". 
But what I see America constantly doing is superimposing their own pop-culture "values" on other countries in the name of "democracy".

Those pop-culture values would be things like "rugged individualism", etc.

Nothing wrong with rugged individualism but politically democratic countries like India do not equate that with "democracy".  Nor is rugged individualism highly valued in a country like India. 


This is so true. America, the clueless, is itself a self inflicting rapist culture, where nothing but mediocricy is entitled to promotion.
Jagat - Sat, 08 May 2004 18:39:51 +0530

My tendency to give the war a chance was much influenced by a Michael Ignatieff article in the New York Times. So, though this is a bit long, I am posting it here.

'Everything I've said and believed since I was 18 is on the line'

Can the armies of the West be used as forces of good? The abuse of Iraqi prisoners casts grave doubt on Michael Ignatieff's belief in hawkish liberalism. DOUG SAUNDERS asks the Canadian intellectual whether it has made it difficult to talk of lesser evils

Saturday, May 8, 2004 - Globe and Mail

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. -- 'I'm in the middle of the largest moral and political gamble of my adult life," Canada's most prominent public intellectual tells me, calmly and quietly, in his Harvard University office. It seems, on this rainy afternoon, as if Michael Ignatieff's entire body of work has been turned inside out by the photographs and stories emerging from Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

In a series of journalistic articles, academic papers and lectures last year, Mr. Ignatieff became the most articulate figure in what came to be known as the pro-war left -- the many liberal voices who argued in favour of a war with Iraq on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. So the notion that the armies of democracy are using Saddam Hussein's prison to engage in precisely the same forms of torture used by the Iraqi dictator has cast those arguments in a harsh and sickening light.

It has turned the phrases made famous by Mr. Ignatieff into unfunny punch lines: Humanitarian intervention. Empire Lite (his case for a more robust U.S. role in places such as Iraq). And, most recently, The Lesser Evil -- his new book, which, with deadening timing, makes a careful and articulate pitch for the suspension of certain civil liberties, temporarily, in fighting terrorism and tyranny.

"Everything I've said and believed since I was 18 is on the line over this war, and I could be very seriously wrong. The test is quite absolute, as it was for the Vietnam generation: Either this works or it doesn't. Either there is consolidated some form of democracy in Iraq, some form of stability by the end of 2005, the middle of 2006, or I was wrong. You have to take responsibility."

The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror is a scholarly work written to bolster the journalistic essays that have made him a prominent U.S. figure in the past two years. It turns its title into a thesis: In order to combat the world's most serious evils, he writes, "we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war."

It is "a middle course," he writes, "between a pure civil libertarian position which maintains that no violations of rights can ever be justified and a purely pragmatic position that judges antiterrorist measures solely by their effectiveness."

His book isn't a defence of George W. Bush. Mr. Ignatieff writes that torture should never be considered, that these acts should only be contemplated with full democratic and international support, that the Iraq occupation has failed to meet any of these tests. In fact, he devotes a chapter to the threat of humanitarian actions themselves descending into nihilism.

But you still end up asking yourself, after looking at those photos, whether we can really talk about greater and lesser evils any more.

"We absolutely are at the tipping point," he says, his voice rising. "You can't do an occupation in the name of human rights and then use it to violate human rights, and hope to conserve any legitimacy.

"I cannot tell you how depressing this is, and how urgent it is for this to be a moment of truth for United States forces. Because it is much worse than just Iraq. It is a global detention problem, and they have messed with it, and they didn't listen to people about Guantanamo Bay, and now they are hung with the consequences of believing they can be judge and jury in their own case. It is a disaster."

The mood inside the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, a suite of offices deep within Harvard University's prestigious Kennedy School of Government, is decidedly dark this week. Many prominent scholars here forged their ideas in the 1990s, when vast numbers of people died or were cast into misery in the Balkans and central Africa because the Western nations, pacified by the end of the Cold War, failed to send in their armies to help.

Two offices away from Mr. Ignatieff is Samantha Power, whose book A Problem From Hell offers the most detailed and shocking chronicle of this period of neglect. She is also a strong advocate of military invasion on humanitarian grounds, although she disagreed strongly with Mr. Ignatieff over Iraq.

They are about to be joined by Roméo Dallaire, the Canadian general and United Nations commander who witnessed, but found the world utterly impotent to stop, the slaughter of half a million Rwandans in a few weeks in 1994.

These people have built their recent lives on a faith that the armies of the West can be used as forces of good. They made a sharp break from other members of the Vietnam generation, who have held rigidly pacifist views (despite the humanitarian cost of those views) on the grounds that militarism, and especially U.S. militarism, is always wrong.

Now that Mr. Ignatieff and other conscientious liberals such as Tony Blair have hitched Iraq to the train of humanitarian military action, there is a real risk that the Abu Ghraib derailment will send the whole thing crashing over a cliff, jeopardizing any future benefits from the West.

"It's entirely possible that any use of human rights as a justification for military force is tarnished," Mr. Ignatieff says, carefully considering his words. "That is to say, if Iraq fails, it will make the U.S. much more reluctant to engage in this kind of operation in the future, and many in the world will see that as a victory for common sense. Fine. I'd even be prepared to agree.

"But, but -- and this is what has made me furious about this argument all along -- the people who pay the price for failure are the Iraqi people. So in your consideration of how you think the consequence will play out, it's in nobody's interest that 26 million people who've been tortured and abused and gassed and imprisoned for 25 or 30 years now get as their consolation prize a civil war. . . . We should all come away much sadder and wiser."

Paradoxically, this moment of grave doubt at Harvard occurs just as Mr. Ignatieff is becoming a figure of considerable influence in Ottawa's highest circles.

Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Paul Martin delivered his inaugural speech in Washington, a closely monitored address on Canada's role in the world. Much of it, many observers noted, echoed a lecture that Mr. Ignatieff delivered in Ottawa in March. Indeed, he says, advisers from the Prime Minister's Office visited him after the lecture to consult on adapting its ideas.

Those ideas were pure Michael Ignatieff, likely to alarm partisans on the left and the right simultaneously.

Mr. Ignatieff has never quite fit in. Scholars have trouble accepting him as one of their own because he is a media celebrity, a tall and chiselled man with considerable personal magnetism and unflappable confidence. Despite adopting the rumpled blazer and threadbare dress shirts of the humanities scholar, he is seen as an outsider.

And yet scholars on the partisan left and right have denounced him because he tends to avoid totalizing solutions, a stance that can be seen as either an appreciation of paradox or a bad case of waffling. (Jagat: Typical Canadian. See how I identify?)

The Ottawa lecture was built on just this sort of double articulation.

He argued that Canada needs to develop a foreign policy that is less acquiescent to the interests of the United States -- and in order to do so, it must develop a stronger and more aggressive military, one whose role moves considerably beyond peacekeeping. We should make "peace, order and good government" not just the credo of Canada's Constitution but also a sort of manifest destiny to be delivered to the world's suffering masses.

This is something that is alien to Canada's leading political constituencies: hawkish liberalism. A strong belief in social welfare, the redistribution of wealth and multiculturalism is tied to an urge to use military force to help others achieve those goals.

It is a view of the world that has been with Mr. Ignatieff since he was a student at the University of Toronto, and seems rooted in his upbringing. Descended from Russian aristocrats who fled both the 1917 Revolution and the horrors of 20th-century Europe, he finds the simplicities of both George W. Bush and the anti-American Canadian left offensive.

"I'm now 57. I'm a child of the Second World War. I grew up haunted and inspired by the experience of my parents and of my uncle, who fought from Salerno to Berlin with the Calgary Highlanders.

"One of the biggest social changes in Canadian life since 1945 has been the removal of the memory of military sacrifice from our national culture. Which means we've entered the nineties and 2001, a world where we actually need military capability, without the historical memory to sustain it. And we've replaced it with a kind of soft pacifism that doesn't meet the challenges which are occurring right outside our front door."

This stance has always put Mr. Ignatieff in an odd position. While his politics were distinctly to the left of the centre, as a student in Toronto he was alone. "Largely because of Vietnam, I was a stand-alone kind of civil-rights liberal. At the University of Toronto in the sixties, the running was done by New Democrats, socialists and Trotskyists to my left; there was very little to the right. All of my friends were to the left of me.

"I feel I've been a fairly consistent liberal-democratic liberal all along. I don't feel I've budged very much. I'm a safety-nets liberal, a welfare-state liberal, and I'm a liberal internationalist, an interventionist."

It is too soon to tell whether Iraq has shattered the interventionist-liberal vision. Abu Ghraib has made it unlikely that this will ever be seen as a moral victory, but the devastation caused by American incompetence is still not equal to the hundred thousand or more who would certainly have been slaughtered by Mr. Hussein once the sanctions and no-fly zones were removed. Still, it has made it difficult to speak of lesser evils.

It has also left Mr. Ignatieff with a dwindling constituency. "Because my e-mail includes wonderful listservs denouncing me as a pimp for American imperialism, it's widely assumed that I have the ear of all kinds of extremely influential Bush administration figures," he says with a wry laugh. "I hasten to assure you without any element of false modesty that I have, I suspect, scarcely any public-policy influence whatever."

Red-meat conservatives have no interest in his language of human rights. And while at least half a dozen of the scholars on his end of Harvard Square are paid advisers to the John Kerry campaign, he has been shunned by the U.S. left. It will not help that he is now arguing that civil liberties should be tempered, albeit with great care, in fighting terrorism.

"This is unpopular with civil libertarians because they feel I'm endorsing a slippery slope," he says. "I'm trying to argue that we're on a slippery slope anyway. We have to reason on an angle, as it were, in a high wind, and we'd better get clear about how much further down we're going in order to stop. I don't want to give aid and comfort to the other side, to the anything-goes side. But I think I've got the balance right."

After our lengthy talk, he will slip on his felt hat and trench coat and make his way across the square, to stand in a lecture hall and answer questions from fellow scholars and students about his new theory. It is a friendly crowd, with only a few questions about American imperialism, but you sense in Mr. Ignatieff a defensiveness.

He devotes most of his words to denouncing the U.S. errors in the Middle East, sidestepping many of the arguments that have upset some of the human-rights scholars around him.

"You know, I teach human rights," he says before leaving, "and it's an absolute prison of political correctness. And to make human rights live and be real and address the world we're in, you have to attack the human-rights perfectionism as hard as you attack the abuses. Because human rights conflict, human rights don't guide you. And many human-rights people disagree passionately with me on this.

"My purpose is not to be destructive here. My purpose is not to erode faith in unconditional rights, but to stress-test them, to put them on the bench and shake them. Because if they can't stand up to robust inquisition, they're no good to us."

But his own theories are now facing their own bench test. He has already repudiated some of his more optimistic statements of last year. In a mea culpa published in The New York Times Magazine this year, he declared that he had been wrong to make the assumption that many of us did: that the United States, despite being guided by less-than-noble motives, could wind up creating a net benefit (as it did in the Second World War).

"Supporting the war meant supporting an administration whose motives I did not fully trust for the sake of consequences I believed in," he wrote. "Now I realize that intentions do shape consequences. An administration that cared more genuinely about human rights would have understood that you can't have human rights without order and that you can't have order once victory is won if planning for an invasion is divorced from planning for an occupation."

But it would be premature to say that Mr. Ignatieff has recanted. When I asked him about his arguments of last year, he seemed ready to mount a horse and charge into battle.

"Now, some people say, 'You shouldn't have said this a year ago.' But, damn it, I said this because I'd been to Iraq in 1993 and I'd seen the victims of poison gas. Okay, I might have been overly impressed with that morally. But when people said to me, 'The world is full of bad dictators,' you know, there was this disinterest in the actual lived experience of Iraqis that actually made me white-hot angry.

"And it's possible, I'll concede, it's possible that that anger pushed me too far. It pushed me to neglect certain things which the Canadian government pointed out: that the military timetable was pushing the diplomatic timetable, that we should have waited for an international consensus."

In his New York Times Magazine apologia, he seemed to have adopted the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, who argued that true good can be done only by those with good intentions and honest motives. And while the shackled bodies of Abu Ghraib might lend credence to that view, Mr. Ignatieff is not fully willing to accept it. This innocent philosophy, he says, is what caused Bosnia and Rwanda, is what is wrong with Canada today.

"If you have to wait for angelic intentions in this world, you'll have to wait for hell to freeze over. The besetting sin of Canadian foreign-policy thinking is a kind of airy and empty moral perfectionism that just doesn't deal with the world that we live in. It's the pathos of the middle power that doesn't actually have hard choices to make. I love my country, but I'm impatient with this thinking."
Jagat - Sun, 09 May 2004 18:38:32 +0530
The basic message is "Arab/Muslim world, grow up!" It's paternalistic, and perhaps culturally imperialistic to think the democratic way of governance is superior, but that's what I think.

Thomas Friedman's NYTimes column.
vamsidas - Sun, 09 May 2004 20:43:09 +0530
QUOTE(Jagat @ May 9 2004, 09:08 AM)
It's paternalistic, and perhaps culturally imperialistic to think the democratic way of governance is superior, but that's what I think.

I think Friedman's article is interesting, but far too simplistic.

Remember, it was less than 70 years ago (ca. 1938) that oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia. The tendencies Friedman discusses existed long before the region was "cursed by oil."

For that matter, the current national boundaries in much of the Middle East have little or nothing to do with geographic, ethnic, religious, racial or social divisions. They are too often an arbitrary construct imposed by retreating colonial powers.

As a result, the notion of "democracy in Iraq" may sound appealing to Western ears, but it is fatally flawed.

If you think it is right to expect Kurds, Sunnis and Shias to share values, wealth and political power in Iraq, then take a look closer to home.

Imagine, for a moment, that Quebec and New York were separated from the U.S and Canada, and told that they had to function as a unified country. Even though the differences in its peoples are far less than we find in Iraq, there would be grave difficulties. Yes, it could be done. But it wouldn't be comfortable for the regions that had been forced together, and it would be no improvement over their current conditions.

If it ever embraced a true "democracy," Iraq would quickly split into three smaller nations. Yet the Western powers that talk of "democracy in Iraq" will not allow democracy to follow this course. So the talk of "democracy" is more or less a sham.

At best, the occupying armies may be able to impose a sort of "Western liberal cultural/social values" regime, much as the Shah of Iran did decades ago, or as Ataturk did in Turkey. That may be an "improvement" over Saddam Hussein's despotism. It may be good for the Iraqi people, in many ways. But it won't be a true democracy.

Even if democratic governance is "superior," it cannot effectively be imposed from without. It has to take root at the local level, and then grow as the local democracies develop and find common cause with neighboring countries. Look at Europe as an example. In 1950, could we have expected France and Germany to surrender many aspects of their sovereignty to one another? Of course not! Today, however, they are the leaders in the developing EU partnership.

We cannot realistically expect the Kurds, Sunnis and Shia of Iraq to accomplish in months what it took decades for Europeans to accomplish. A rushed "democratization" of a "unified" Iraq serves Western corporate interests far more than it serves the people of Iraq.

Saying "democracy is best in today's geopolitical climate" is a lot like saying "Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead." Your belief that it is true doesn't mean that it is right -- or even possible -- to force it on others.
nabadip - Sun, 09 May 2004 20:52:07 +0530
But listen more closely. "And it's really a shame that just a handful can besmirch maybe the reputations of hundreds of thousands of our soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines. . . . " said Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday.

Reputation, image, perception. The problem, it seems, isn't so much the abuse of the prisoners, because we will get to the bottom of that and, of course, we're not really like that. The problem is our reputation. Our soldiers' reputations. Our national self-image. These photos, we insist, are not us.§ion=news

Red Cross sees torture-like abuse in Iraq
Fri 7 May, 2004 19:19

By Richard Waddington

GENEVA (Reuters) - Iraqis held by U.S. forces have been subjected to systematic degrading treatment, sometimes close to torture, that may have been officially condoned, the International Committee of the Red Cross says.

Breaking with its usual vow of silence, the Geneva-based humanitarian agency (ICRC) said on Friday that visits to detention centres in Iraq between March and November 2003 had turned up violations of international treaties on prisoners of war.

"What we have observed are situations from a human point of view that are degrading in treatment and in some incidents tantamount to torture," Pierre Kraehenbuehl, director of ICRC operations, told journalists.

"Our findings do not allow us to conclude that what we were dealing with...were isolated acts of individual members of coalition forces. What we have described is a pattern and a broad system," he said.

The ICRC, whose reports on prison visits are confidential, went public with some of its findings after parts of the 24-page document were carried by the Wall Street Journal.

The scandal over detainee abuse broke last week with the release of photographs showing the sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, a U.S.-run jail outside Baghdad.

U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday took responsibility for the incidents, which have caused outrage in the Middle East, and apologised to the victims, the Iraqi people and Americans.


According to the Journal, whose report was confirmed as accurate by the ICRC, ill-treatment was most common during questioning, when interrogators were seeking information or confessions. Examples included:

-- "Hooding a detainee with a bag, sometimes in conjunction with beatings thus increasing anxiety as to when blows would come."

-- "Handcuffing so tight that they caused skin lesions and nerve damage; beating with pistols and rifles; threats of reprisals against family members; and stripping detainees naked for several days in solitary confinement in a completely dark cell."

Kraehenbuehl said that the report referred mainly to the actions of U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, but the ICRC had also expressed concern in recent months about British-run centres.

"We have made our comments...and also our recommendations" to the British, he said. But he gave no detail and did not comment on pictures published in a British newspaper, one of which purports to show a soldier urinating on a prisoner.

Although the report was presented to the U.S. authorities only in February, its contents were consistent with the oral and written presentations made to prison authorities since the visits first began, Kraehenbuehl said.

Excerpts of the ICRC report in the Journal spoke of ill-treatment that "went beyond exceptional cases and might be considered a practice tolerated" by coalition forces. U.S. officials insist military high-ups never condoned abuse.

On Thursday, the ICRC said it had repeatedly urged the United States to take "corrective action" at Abu Ghraib.

The humanitarian group also said coalition forces fired on unarmed prisoners from watchtowers and killed some, as well as committing "serious violations" of the Geneva Conventions governing treatment of war prisoners.

The ICRC's silence until now has been questioned by some human rights groups, but the humanitarian organisation stressed that it could have more impact in trouble spots around the world by keeping quiet in public while pressing the authorities concerned in private.

Kraehenbuehl said that the ICRC's discussions with U.S. prison authorities in Iraq over the past months had led to some improvements but problems remained.

Excerpts from ICRC report on Iraq:§ion=news
nabadip - Sun, 09 May 2004 21:06:58 +0530

A quote from an Interview with a Professor:
"People in the Middle East react with the same feeling of revulsion at these images that we have, but for them the images also connect powerfully to something many Americans simply don't understand: the profound sense of being violated in other ways by American policies and American power."
Jagat - Sun, 09 May 2004 22:19:16 +0530
I agree with you Vamsi, and I am well aware of your analysis of the historical background is completely true. In a just world, the Kurds would be given their own state (which after the lengthy division would present tremendous challenges of its own).

But I realize that I am being rather stupid about it. Because the Americans have shown clearly that they have absolutely no idea of how to achieve their goal of "democracy." Corporate interests, facile fundamentalist faith-based thinking about democracy and neo-liberal capitalism, a generalized ignorance and fundamental antipathy to the people themselves, what to speak of their culture and religion, have all made any achievement of the stated goals to be ten times harder to achieve than it should have been.

But even in the very beginning, I thought that the June 30 deadline is a hopeless, meaningless goal. It takes generations to establish the kinds of institutions that are needed to establish a democratic society. Besides which, I heard a statistic that just flabbergasted me recently--only some 300 books were translated into Arabic from other languages last year ("According to a United Nations report last fall, Spain translates in a single year as much as the Arab world has translated in the past millennium.") And many of those are things like neo-Nazi conspiracy theories.

The figures for translated books are also discouraging. The Arab world translates about 330 books annually, one fifth of the number that Greece translates. The cumulative total of translated books since the Caliph Maa'moun's (sic) time is about 100,000, almost the average that Spain translates in one year. (2002 Arab Human Development Report)
But the problem is very, very deep. I don't pretend to know the answers. The U.S. government, with all its big brains and access to information, does not seem to be making much progress.
nabadip - Mon, 10 May 2004 00:24:43 +0530,2763,1212697,00.html

"According to one officer recently returned from Iraq, sexual humiliation of prisoners in Abu Ghraib was not an invention of 'maverick guards' but part of a system of degradation developed for use by British and US troops called R2I - resistance to interrogation - which uses sexual jibes and stripping prisoners to prolong 'the shock of capture' when detainees are at their most vulnerable.

In an interview with the Guardian yesterday, the officer said: 'It was clear from discussions with US private contractors in Iraq that prison guards were using R2I techniques, but they didn't know what they were doing.'

What has also emerged is the role that US military intelligence officers - and private intelligence contractors - have played in directing the abuse with most of the reservists involved alleging that they thought their duty was to 'soften up' the prisoners for questioning. "
nabadip - Tue, 11 May 2004 02:04:01 +0530
QUOTE(Jagat @ May 9 2004, 03:08 PM)
The basic message is "Arab/Muslim world, grow up!" It's paternalistic, and perhaps culturally imperialistic to think the democratic way of governance is superior, but that's what I think.

Nothing much, just about these so-called democracies:

"We watch as two of the leading democracies, two leading nations of the free world, get involved in a war that the United Nations did not sanction," Mandela told a special session of Parliament in Cape Town.

"We look on with horror as reports surface of terrible abuses against the dignity of human beings held captive by invading forces in their own country, said Mandela.

"We see how the powerful countries - all of them democracies - manipulate multilateral bodies to the great disadvantage and suffering of the poorer developing nations," said Mandela. "There is enough reason for cynicism and despair."