Monday, May 03, 2004

So what?

It's been big in the news so I'm going to give my take on the Iraqi prisoner abuse story. I would have done it sooner but I'm still much busy.

I guess my response is:

So what?

To quote Spaceballs: "Welcome to real life." [It's my industrial-strength hair-dryer. And I can't live without it!]

Some of what the soldiers did is unacceptable; the physical abuse should be punished. But some of the stuff sounds just fine to me. Few quotes from this article:

"Frederick, the most senior of the six soldiers charged, wrote of inmates being shot with non-lethal bullets, forced to sleep in 3-by-3-foot closets, handcuffed for long periods to the doors of their cells and made to go naked or wear women's underpants."

I would say that all of this is A-OK except maybe for the shooting. And this:

"Prisoners were interrogated using physical coercion, Frederick wrote. One prisoner with a broken arm was choked, he wrote, and dogs were used as tools of intimidation. Prisoners were made to remain for as long as three days in damp isolation cells without a toilet or running water"

Choking bad, rest fine by me.

Why? It works.

"We have had a very high rate with our style of getting them to break," the soldier, Staff Sgt. Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II, wrote in a Dec. 18 e-mail released by Frederick's uncle. "They usually end up breaking within hours."

I think that it's bullshit to treat prisoners with kid gloves. These are the bad guys for crying out loud. What else are we going to do? Put them in a country club? What a load of crap. There should be a price to trying to kill our people. We're merciful for not killing them outright.

These are what the interrogation rules should be:
1. No permanent physical harm.
2. See above.

So it's not ok to kill anybody or permanently harm them but everything else is fair game. You almost never hear people bitching about how almost the entire rest of the world does this stuff to their own people.

I think the worst part of the deal is not what happened, but that pictures were taken. The soldiers should be punished for that alone; no sense giving them a recruiting tool. It's a propaganda coup for the other side, and now people on our side (allegedly) will be whining about it for months. Blaa blaa blaa. So what.


I believe that most people in the U.S. share my view. This story is non-starter. Except for self-righteous condemnation by people who are already anti-war, which will be eaten up by people who are already anti-war and ignored by most of us. The only real effect will be to give the enemy some especially effective propaganda.

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