By now you’ve heard about “Abu Ghraib”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56661-2004Apr30.html. If you haven’t seen “the pictures”:http://www.livejournal.com/users/throwingstardna/513278.html, you should, even though they’re hard to stomach. There’s a big difference between reading about them in seeing them, and in this case, the horror and revulsion of seeing them is something everyone should experience in order to remember just how bad we, the good guys, can get.
It’s true that 99.9% of the men and women serving in Iraq would never even think of committing such acts. But in this occupation, after this war, with all the mistakes that led us into it and all the hatred already directed at us, the margin for error is _zero_, not .01%. If “this Guardian article”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1206725,00.html is borne out, then a big part of the problem is that unaccountable private contractors were involved, actually _supervising_ the soldiers in question. We should wait for corroboration on that point, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if it were true.
It’s also true that these soldiers are going to be punished severely, and that no one anywhere is making excuses for them or trying to downplay the significance of their actions. That makes the gap large between us and the true monsters of this world, but — well, as “Jim”:http://www.highclearing.com/archivesuo/week_2004_04_25.html#005301 put it:
Are we “as bad as Hitler?” No. Are we “as bad as Saddam Hussein?” No. Not So Far. _That’s not good enough!_
We have a long way to go.
UPDATE: More information in “this entry”:http://www.polytropos.org/archives/000387.html.
(Hat tips to multiple sources; I first came across the picture link and the Guardian article at “Amygdala”:http://www.amygdalagf.blogspot.com/ and “MetaEd”:http://ed.puddingbowl.org/.)