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Iraq - All Bets Are Off




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Read the stories that TV news networks forget to report!

(Courtesy of George W. Bush's and the American News Media) Editorial - May-2004

Hostage-taking is now a standard weapon in Iraq. Thatís a given.  At this moment, at least one American soldier has been taken hostage in this insane quagmire. An American contractor had been taken hostage recently as well. Thankfully, the US contractor escaped captivity and is now safe.

Hostage-taking has a long and painful history in the Middle East, and you can bet your bottom dollar it will continue.  In the past, arduous negotiations, sometimes years in the making, have brought some hostages home. In the past, hostages were sometimes unharmed by their captors. In the past, there were deals and hostages survived. The past, however, is over.

In the light of recent revelations about our horrid abuse of Iraqi prisoners, what are the odds that our missing men or any future American hostages will ever again survive their ordeals?

Americans are not unfamiliar with revenge. The military response to the murders and mutilations of four American security personnel was a devastating attack that killed more than 1,300 people in the Suni city of Fallujah.  Women and children and old people died in homes indiscriminately hit by 500 and 1000 pound bombs.  This was pay back, big time.  US marines went into the city with a vengeance, and their revenge was swift and bloody, if not sweet.  But the American wish for retaliation cannot hold a candle to the cultural need to avenge a wrong in the Moslem world.

Avenging a wrong is not a choice among most Moslems, for Islamic culture teaches that it is a duty to take revenge against those who would harm you.  Not to avenge an undeserved wrong would bring dishonor to an entire family for a lifetime in a culture where family honor is a driving force. Now consider this: the images of humiliation and abuse that have been released this week throughout Iraq and the entire Moslem world are devastating and unprecedented. These are images of acts committed by those who would bring them democracy and freedom.  These are images of acts that will sadden, shame, and enrage.  These are images of acts that will be avenged, - if not today, tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, the day after.  Time is not a factor, honor is.   Remember that

During the 1st Gulf War, which in most respects was more of a real war, American POWs, while not treated kindly, were treated according to Geneva Convention. This time around, when fighting an insurgency, one would expect a greater risk of abuses should prisoners or hostages be taken.  A non military resistance force can not be expected to fight by any rules, since its participants are not official players. That must have worried our military leaders as the probability increased of Americans being taken captive. How ironic and how shameful that Iraqi detainees were the ones at greater risk of mistreatment at the hands of the American military. Understand that the Iraqi people will feel the need to respond in kind. Think about it when we demand humane treatment of American prisoners or hostages in the coming months. Vengeance is not sweet, remember that.

Time will tell whether the abuse of the prisoners in this case was an isolated incident, but indications are that this is only the tip of a terrible iceberg.  Regardless of frequency, the haunting question remains of how this could happen at all. We see American troops willfully and joyfully humiliating and torture Iraqi prisoners. We see soldiers taking obvious pride in hurting and punishing their less than human Iraqi prisoners. There is no sense of compassion, no respect for human dignity and no question of military ethics or morality. Even worse, there is no shame about taking hundreds of photographs that attest to the acts committed, and no apparent fear of discovery. You can be absolutely sure that Iraqis and others in the region will remember that.

Where did these feelings come from? Who whipped these troops into a fever of hatred so great that they would do this? Who brainwashed these troops into seeing Iraqis as faceless, soulless forces of evil? Is it possible that this was the result of the persistent mantra of our esteemed President George W. Bush, the members of his administration and the American news media? After all, the message was hammered home from the moment that Iraq was pronounced one prong in the Axis of Evil. Americans were warned that Iraq posed a threat to the US. Iraq was the enemy. Iraq was an entity, not a nation of 25 million people, half of whom were under 17.  Killing their civilians to protect American lives was acceptable. Iraqis were people whose civilian casualties were not be counted, by US edict.  These were people who were dispensable during a shock and awe bombardment that left thousands dead and tens of thousands injured. These were people about whose humanity there has not been one official discussion. Remember that.

The Iraqi people have been dehumanized and depersonalized by the Bush/PNAC chickenhawk warmongers, and the American news media that have supported their policies.  Led by the non-journalists at FOX News and followed by virtually every other media outlet, America was brainwashed into viewing Iraq as a nation devoid of flesh and blood civilians, and Iraq was an entity constantly portrayed as a villainous purveyor of evil.  The result was a war that fostered the illusion of a sterile, surgical attack on cities with millions of civilians, without a body count, without gore or blood or pain. It is not that difficult to hate what you believe to be evil. It is not that difficult to dismiss the humanity of those whose dead are not important enough to count.  It is not that difficult to make the transition from invader to abuser. Remember that.

Should we, then, be totally amazed that American troops are capable of treating Iraqis in a manner that is appropriate when dealing with evil? Perhaps not. Should we be surprised that the rules have now changed, and the treatment of all captive Americans, everywhere has been compromised? Again, perhaps not. We can only wonder what the fallout of this recent outrage will be. Who, if anyone will pay the price for the actions of American troops who might have believed it was acceptable to deal with evil in an evil manner.  But far more important, should we be surprised and horrified when, not if, these acts are avenged? Surely not, - remember that.

The tragedy is that there is little, if any understanding by those who created this war of the people they have invaded, and of the culture to which they have brought such chaos.  Remember, there is an American soldier being held captive in Iraq right now. If this man and any other ill fated Americans become the objects of Iraqi vengeance, it cannot come as a surprise, and should be anticipated as inevitable. The fact is that we have George W. Bush to thank for getting us into this fearful dilemma, and setting the tone that ignored the reality that this was an invasion against real, living, breathing people. And when you wrongly injure real, living, breathing people, all bets are off.  They just might remember, and they just might retaliate.  

  • ARTICLE UPDATE - 2 MAY, 2004 - US hostage escapes Iraqi captors - A United States civilian taken hostage in Iraq early last month is free after escaping from his captors.


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