BAGHDAD – The national guardsman peering through the long-range scope of his rifle was startled by what he saw unfolding in the walled compound below.
From his post several stories above ground level, he watched as men in plainclothes beat blindfolded and bound prisoners in the enclosed grounds of the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
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He immediately radioed for help. Soon after, a team of Oregon Army National Guard soldiers swept into the yard and found dozens of Iraqi detainees who said they had been beaten, starved and deprived of water for three days.
In a nearby building, the soldiers counted dozens more prisoners and what appeared to be torture devices – metal rods, rubber hoses, electrical wires and bottles of chemicals. Many of the Iraqis, including one identified as a 14-year-old boy, had fresh welts and bruises across their back and legs.
The soldiers disarmed the Iraqi jailers, moved the prisoners into the shade, released their handcuffs and administered first aid. Lt. Col. Daniel Hendrickson of Albany, Ore., the highest ranking American at the scene, radioed for instructions.
But in a move that frustrated and infuriated the guardsmen, Hendrickson’s superior officers told him to return the prisoners to their abusers and immediately withdraw. It was June 29 – Iraq’s first official day as a sovereign country since the U.S.-led invasion.
Yeah, the torture is good, because the Iraqis are doing it on their own? Or did I miss that now the Bush Apologist have already moved on to a new excuse for the war? Has it moved past “To save the Iraqi People”?
I would have supported a humanitarian war effort in Iraq if it was clear we had some meaningful international support. In fact, I think one neocon idea is generally right - that the lack of opportunity and democratic distribution of power in the middle east is what’s at root of most of the problems there.
However we’re talking about a political party that resents foreign aid, foreign entanglements that don’t directly relate to national security (as they define it), disdains human rights issues, and which is currently dominated by our own brand of religious zealots as well as extremely grandious ideologues determined to sideline the international community as irrelevant, at best, to the United State’s designs while also defending Israel’s interests as defined by the Likud and other right wing organs. This is a party currently involved in such actions as compiling lists of Democratic lobbiests and refusing to meet with them on behalf of clients, that may be guilty of vote tampering and voter intimidation in Flordia, and which is redistricting states at any opportunity to assume themselves perpetual power - with Texas as the most controversial example. This is a party that holds up Karl Rove and John Ashcroft as exemplars of what a democratic and free society is about.
Now why would I be skeptical that they were in it for humanitarian purposes? Why would I be skeptical they were really in it for purposes of national security? Could it be the oil? Could it be that plans to invade Iraq were being pushed for a decade by the same people who ended up pushing it after 9/11?
I couldn’t support the invasion of Iraq by these people because I didn’t trust them to actually deliver anything useful. Certainly not without the cost of alienating populations around the world whose goodwill is necessary to win the war of ideas with Islamic militants. If everyone around the world is rooting for the hero to take a fall, whether or not they despise Al Qaida and terrorism, we’re only going to have limited success winning away converts and allies. The fact that there were reports before the war warning about twisted intelligence being manipulated by the administration only made me even more skeptial. And look what events have borne out.
bmulligan, stop making conservatives look bad. thanks.
Although, I think this is more of a legal issue than otherwise, because the article mentions this occured on the first day of Iraqi sovereignty. Well, they’re a sovereign nation now, so… erm… yeah. (Note to self, next time there’s an invasion on human rights grounds, end it when all the machinery to do said human rights violations is gone). (Secondary note to self: I fucking HATE when legality trumps morality)
Yeah, I agree, it’s their country. It just really leaves a bad taste in your mouth that we have to screwed up Iraq so badly we have to turn it over to these assholes. Hopefully we won’t end up with Diem…
Well, what was the alternative, a new Phillipines occupation?
I assume that everyone reads Juan Cole , but if not, they should. Belle linked the other day to his coverage of the burned double agent story. But, of course, he is best know for his continuing coverage of Iraq. One popular narrative has the current Iraqi government as the harbingers of peace and democracy, impeded in their efforts by ex-Baathists, Al Qaida, the Mehdi Army, the Iranians, etc, and therefore fully justified in using all the force at their disposal to establish order. If I read Cole correctly there is another, competing story, the credibility of which is bolstered by the arrest warrants against the Chalabis (including the one in charge of Saddam’s trial). Namely that Allawi and his allies are using their position, and their access to US and allied firepower, to crush their competitors for political power. The distinction between these narratives is somewhat blurred, of course, by the fact that the current objects of repressive or judicial action are or include very many people who are indeed rogues, gangsters, fanatics, etc. Still, I wouldn’t bet my house on the first version, in which Allawi and co will turn out to have been the good guys, there will be genuinely competitive elections, the righteous will flourish and the unjust will be punished, and so on.
What was our concrete (non-ideology drive) goal in Iraq after the situation began to collapse? Security? Elections? Better schools?
How do you, I, or anyone know whether what’s happening now is moving us closer our farther away from a series of steps designed to create a secure democratic Iraq? Or were we simply going to go from chaos to peace and prosperity in one giant step?
I can reasonably say my above statement about the future of Iraq because Bush is God on Earth and can’t screw up…
Seriously, though, I suppose because of current popular opinion in Iraq. Contrary to most media reports and the expectations (and probably wishes) of this forum, most Iraqis (not all, certainly not all, but most) actually welcomed American soldiers. We’ve done some wrong, of course, but overall we’ve been a stabilizing force and a good one. Seriously, find a returning American soldier, and - before you spit on him and shout “Babykiller!” - ask him what he/she thinks. You might be surprised.
Several friends in psyop and civil affairs units have personally expressed to me their fear that our actions in Iraq have already brought together the people who form the groups that will eventually be behind another large scale attack on the US within the next ten years.
But that’s really neither here nor there, because asking troops coming back from Iraq what the people will do in the future or how they feel politically now is about as accurate as asking a group of police officers how their city will vote in the upcoming presidential elections.
Most of our troops in country are seperated from the populace whenever possible for security reasons, and their only contact with the people of Iraq comes from whatever few neighborhoods they’re operating in with a large number of people they don’t speak the same language as.
I’ve never understood the idea that your average grunt has any more accurate information about the complete social-economic-political situation than those whose jobs it is to analyse such things.
Maybe I’m misremembering but I seem to recall alot of commentary from troops initially demanding Rumsfeld resign and wondering what the hell they were doing there before the chain of command clamped down on 'em. Next thing you know we had cases of officers handing out form letters to soldiers praising the operation and telling them to send them in to newspapers.
Sure, I don’t doubt there are alot of soldiers working very hard at improving the local situations in several places who feel they’re accomplishing a great deal. But I also think that there’s a bigger picture here that’s reflected in the realities of the Shi’ia uprising going on right now and the cities, like Fallujah, still under the control of pro-Baathist forces. It’s reflected in the money not disbursed to fund reconstruction efforts that can’t be started because the situation is still too dangerous. It’s reflected in ally after ally leaving Iraq. It’s reflected in the well known and widespread corruption in the new regime.
This is the stuff that’s going to be telling as we go down the road.