Abu Ghraib-bag


The Washington Post's Jefferson Morley has a useful wrapup of foreign press reactions, especially in the Arab world, to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Needless to say, it's not playing well. Consider the most nuanced response Morley quotes:

Musa Keilani, writing in the Jordan Times, sees an element of hypocrisy in the Arab reaction.

When Hussein was in the power, he writes, "the overriding feeling among the Arabs" was that the "the Arab world needed a leader like Saddam to challenge the West, particularly the US, and, of course, Israel. In the bargain, we all simply forgot that Saddam's continued survival in power in Iraq was at the expense of the basic human rights and well-being of the people of Iraq—or most of the people of Iraq. Therefore, few wanted to focus attention on what was going on in Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq."

The photos of U.S. prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib "brought back memories of the Saddam era to many, and thus the basic question was immediately raised: Is this the way the US, the country which boasts of a great record of respect for human rights and dignity, treats its prisoners?"

Keilani says yes.

"The US, having invaded Iraq in the name of non-existent weapons of mass destruction and connections with international terrorism and then having shifted the argument to 'democracy' and human rights, is now kicking around the people of Iraq, whether in prison or otherwise. They have no respect for the people of Iraq and they consider every Iraqi as an enemy until proven otherwise."

NEXT: Our Tone-Deaf Music Industry

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. After the Faluja debacle, a huge morale builder for the insurgents, showing American women dominating Iraqi men may at least temper the celebration a little.

  2. Some Iraqi bloggers think the American response to Abu G. is exemplerary.

    Why? Because we apologized and are punishing the miscreants. Something Arab societies never do.

    This may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.


    As to American women dominating Iraqi men: it is a good idea.

    Their ideas about women need to change.


    The article documents systematic sexual abuse of women and children in Arab society.

  3. BTW the WMDs exist and have been documented.

    The fact that the news media haven’t widely reported this is no surprise. They have their integrity to uphold. [snark]


    Evidently Reason is working hard to maintain its credibility as well.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. First let me say that these crimes must be punished. Everyone is shocked and disgusted by this psychological torture and humiliation, which will effect the victims for the rest of their lives.
    But the International Community’s reaction is riddled with hypocrisy:

    1. Bad treatment for US troops?
    It is conventional wisdom among pundits that ill-treatment by a few US troops will result in worse treatment against American POWs. Really?
    In the past, US POWS and even civilians have hardly been treated according to the Geneva Conventions. Daniel Pearl beheaded, the Fallujah four mutilated and burned, Jessica Lynch raped come to mind. Tiger cages and torture in Vietnam, forced death marches and executions during WWII. Perhaps the pundits could tell me of a conflict where American POWs were protected?
    The threat of bad treatment for POWs might have more effect if it hadn’t already happened.

    2. Torture=bad, Torture-Killing=Good?
    How did the world respond when 4 civilians were tortured, mutilated, burned, shot, executed, their bodies parts burned, stepped on, dragged and hung from bridges? In much of the press, it was hardly denounced, and actually used as more evidence of either American failure or blame was cast on the non-combatant civilian workers as being “spieds” or “mercenaries”.
    Clearly a few humiliating sexual poses would be preferable to mutilation-death-desecration. Apparently rape, torture, mutilation and execution of Americans POWs and even civilians is okay….

    3. Demand for apologies
    Here’s the game:
    -If you only apologize, Iraqis will forgive you
    -Bush and others apologize
    -Declare these apologies invalid for some reason — they were too indirect, they were personal statements, etc.
    -The apology provokes no forgiveness, only shrill denunciations about trying to sneak out of responsibility. A Saudi paper screamed “Killers should apologize!”

    4. War=Bad, Terror=Good?
    This is a part of a larger pattern of hypocrisy: War is “evil”, terror is good. War by nations against nations is wrong. Civil war and insurgency are “heroic”. Thus, nations which fight wars must be harangued for real and imagined war-crimes, while their insurgent, terrorist counterparts can extermination civilians, rape, torture and mutilate with impunity—after all, they are not governments, so how can they be held responsible.

    Thus, the rape of Jessica Lynch and female soldiers in the first Gulf War are laughed off. Thus, executions of American civilians like Daniel Pearl and an elderly wheel-chair bound Achille Lauro passenger is never called a war crime–the terrorists act with impunity. Only wars are protested; Terrorist atrocities and war crimes are laughed off, ignored, or worse, secretly sympathized and justified.

    5. Get ready for more hypocrisy
    Some Iraqis despite official apologies and even compensation ,and despite experts from the Arab media who claimed that ?if only Bush would apologize? the Iraqis will forgive you, radicals in Iraq and elsewhere will no doubt seek to get ?Revenge?. When American POWS are tortured and executed what can we expect? Loud, shrill denunciations by the world?s press?? I doubt it. More likely are apologetics, excuse-making, justifications, and even glee. Such is the craven nature of the ?World Community?.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.