Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Monday, May 03, 2004
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Less Brutal Than Saddam


If the United States invaded Iraq to liberate its people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, recent reports of "systematic" inhumane treatment of Iraqi prisoners only underscore that the very nature of occupation of one country by another is such that it invariably leads to acts that dehumanize the occupied people in the name of security. The outcome: intense and incessant hostility, resentment, and anger of the occupied toward the occupiers.

New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh has written a gruesome account of gross and systematic abuse of Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Gharib prison. The ultimate irony is that, during the rule of Saddam, Abu Gharib became a symbol of brutality. Once it could not find weapons of mass destruction to justify its invasion of Iraq, the administration of US President George W Bush claimed that the liberation of Iraqis from the most inhumane rule of a dictator was a good enough reason for taking military action against that country. Now reports of the US military's abuse of Iraqi prisoners in that notorious prison threaten to deprive the United States of even that wobbly claim.

The seeds of prisoner abuse were sown in the very act of invasion and occupation of a country, especially when it was done without the moral authority of the international community. By going into Iraq without the sanction of the United Nations - the sole symbol of international legitimacy - the occupation forces became the target of Iraqi anger, particularly by not only remaining there indefinitely, but also by promising to transform Iraq into the image of their own society. Any expectation of overwhelming cooperation from the Iraqi populace was unrealistic. The manifestation of Iraqi anger through acts of resistance and insurgency was bound to create an equally brutal response from the occupying forces.
The Arab world has been saturated with the reports and pictures of the dehumanization of Iraqi prisoners. Admittedly, there is no comparison between the brutality of the Saddam regime and the reports of abuse of prisoners in occupied Iraq. However, as one dispatch in the latest issue of Newsweek aptly notes: "No one would liken US abuses to Saddam's techniques, which included the most sadistic forms of torture and murder. But then, being more humane than Saddam isn't much to brag about."

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A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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