Thanks to a small handful of misguided idiots the United States is being forced to confront an angry Muslim world outraged at allegations of torture of Iraqi detainees at the hands of American soldiers.
The price we are paying for this sad chapter in our military history will be calculated in American lives lost along with the good will the nation has earned over the years as a result of our being in the forefront in the struggle for human rights.
As a result of the inexcusable behavior of these men and women, we are now being forced to stand before the world accused of actions we have condemned when done by others. In the very same notorious prison where Saddam Hussein’s henchmen inflicted the most unspeakable tortures on their fellow Iraqis, members of our armed forces subjected Iraqi detainees to humiliating treatment that involved both torture and threatened rape.
With insurrections against coalition forces increasing in both numbers and violence, when all our attention should be focused on the need to enlist the Iraqi people in the struggle against the murderous Islamic thugs killing coalition soldiers and Marines and their fellow Iraqis, the U.S. is being forced to defend itself against charges of inhuman conduct directed against helpless prisoners.
As a result of the growing scandal and the accusations that the U.S. is conducting a war not against terrorists but instead against Middle Eastern Muslims we have been forced into a position by just 13 soldiers where:
• The President of the United States had to appear on two Arab TV stations, hat in hand, to apologize for the behavior of our troops.
• An administration that should be engaged in winning a war is instead being forced to circle the wagons in an attempt to minimize the damage being done by the scandal.
• American and coalition forces now face the prospect of increasing attacks against them, including being shot down and killed on the streets of Iraqi cities in response to the allegations of torture. More Americans will die as a result.
• The huge public outcry being fed by both the U.S. and foreign media is escalating the damage being done to our cause not only in the Middle East but throughout the world.
• Instead of being able to explain to the American people and the world all of the good constructive things we have been doing to rebuild Iraq and help the Iraqi people get back on their feet and participating in the benefits of living in a free society, we are being forced into a defensive position. The great and good work of some 150,000 American troops is being overlooked all because something like 13 of their fellow soldiers acted like thugs.
That the entire scandal is being overblown by the media, much of it clearly motivated by their anti-Bush sentiments, does not of course diminish the guilt of those who were involved. But it needs to be made clear that when the first allegations of torture and mistreatment surfaced, the Army launched a thorough investigation of the whole sordid affair and has made public the results of that probe.
The details are more than merely shocking. According to Major General Antonio M. Taguba, who headed the investigation, they included such outrages as threatening detainees with loaded automatics, beating detainees with a broom handle and threatening male detainees with rape. According to Gen. Taguba, the offenses were “intentionally perpetrated” by several members of the 372nd Military Police Company at the Abu Ghraib Prison.
These poorly trained soldiers, the General reported, were acting under instructions by military intelligence operatives conducting prisoner interrogations to “soften up” the prisoners and make them more cooperative during interrogations.
The fact that must not be overlooked is that the Army moved quickly to deal with the problem and made no attempts at a cover-up.
If there is a bright side in this picture it is that the Iraqis and the entire Muslim world will be able to see that when confronted with offenses committed by our own people, the United States wastes no time in identifying, trying and punishing the guilty – unlike the failure of their own governments to come clean when similar or worse offenses are committed by their people.
©2004 Mike Reagan. You must contact us if you would like to print this column in your publication or post on the internet. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Cari Dawson Bartley Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561