Opinion : American Occupation of Iraq

The American Occupation of Iraq has been a pretty hot topic in the news lately, and with the election coming up I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more. The latest scandal deals with the torture of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison, and the beheading of American Nicholas Berg.

Regarding the abuse of the prisoners in Iraq, I'm pretty apalled. Yes, war is hell. Yes, I might have a different mindset if I were a soldier in Iraq working prison detail. I'm still a human being though. To call some of the photos of the abuse at the prison "disturbing" is a gross understandment. The Sue vs. Richard incident in Survivor was disturbing. The torture of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison is most dispicable, reprehensible, disgusting thing I have seen done in the name of the American Way. It makes me very sad, and very angry. This is not how I want to be represented, and it is not how I want my country to be represented. Sure, this group is not representative of the whole of the American forces in Iraq. Everyday there are real heros in Iraq getting hurt and killed in an effort to stabilize the country. I'll leave how we got to this point for another post.

The abuse of the prisoners is disgusting. What is even more disgusting is hearing the people involved claiming that it was due to inadequate training and that they were under orders from a superior officer. The first time I heard that on the news I really felt the need to throw up. Inadequate training? What happened to being human? No one has to tell me that it is not okay to force prisoners to perform gay sex acts on each other. No one has to tell me that it is wrong to torture people that are being held captive. In many cases, the prisoners are folks who did nothing wrong. They were just unfortunate enough to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I've heard some folks argue that this is war, and that in times of war, the rules change. In times of war, the use of any means necessary to get information that may save American lives will be taken. I don't buy that. I especially don't buy that when I see an American soldier pointing, smiling, laughing, and enjoying the humiliation, abuse, and torture of people. What happened at that prison was not just the interrogation of prisoners for information vital to the war effort. It was torture for the simple pleasure of seeing someone else suffer. I'm getting mad just thinking about it now.

The second hot topic has to do with the beheading of Nick Berg. A group of men, apparently acting as part of Al Qaeda, took him as a hostage, and recorded his beheading as an act of revenge for the atrocities at Abu Ghraib. I ran across a link to the video (I won't provide it here), and it was anything but quick and painless. I won't go into the details, but it was gruesome. The killing was barbaric. What's worse is that Nick had no affiliation with the army. He was just an American who made the unfortunate decision to be in Iraq. I don't know how to feel about it. I certainly feel bad for the families. It must be very difficult to lose your son in this way, and even worse to have it televised. Still, it just doesn't measure up to the magnitude of disgust that I feel towards the soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison. Nick Berg's killing was done by a small, radical group. The impact was the death of a single man. At Abu Ghraib, the US is endorsing the torture of hundreds of Iraqis. I don't want to sound like a sympathiser, I'm not. Maybe I'm just desensitized to the types of things that the radical groups in the middle east will do (suicide bombings, using children as mine sweepers, terrorist acts, etc.) but I hold my country and my countrymen to a higher standard. We are better than that. I certainly hope that those involved in the prison abuse receive some type of severe punishment, and not just a slap on the wrist and a quick cover-up.


Jade Mason