Sully on Sontag

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I'm a bit late to this, I know, but Andrew Sullivan has a nice "fisking" of Susan Sontag's NY Times Mag essay about the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Here's Sully's piece in The New Republic. And here's a link to Sontag's, via the Guardian.

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  1. “I believe…the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent overrated crap.”
    Crash Davis

    Sing it

  2. Sigh. Sullivan constantly refers to the photographs as photographs of “torture.” I found it hard to take him seriously from there on, frankly. We’ve hashed this out elsewhere, but IMO the photographs show abuse and humiliation, but not torture by any definition that has not been debased.

    I’m willing to extend the point and admit that torture can encompass mental torture, such as sleep deprivation taken to extremes. Having a dog bark at you – no. Wearing underwear on your head – no. Being stripped and laughed at by women – no. Being stripped and thrown into a pile of other naked men – no. Having fake electrodes hooked up to you – no.

  3. Anything Sontag has to say is crap and you notice she was completely silent when it came to the incineration of the Koresch Kids. Like many of the hand wringers, her outrage seems highly selective.

  4. Anal rape with a glowstick isn’t torture? All the other activities you seem to have glossed over aren’t torture? Way to selectively read the news reports there. 37 in-custody deaths doesn’t make you think something other than just humiliation was going on?

  5. “Having fake electrodes hooked up to you – no.”

    It is if the victim thinks that they’re real! That is behavior that can only be appropriately punished by those responsible, however high up, doing some serious time.

    Look at these!:

    http://www.antiwar.com/news/?articleid=2444

    An autopsy shows that the dead man in the photos with the male and female soldier giving the “thumbs up” over his body was beaten to death!

    Also, we haven’t likely seen near the worst of the photos and evidence from the Abu Ghraib prison, since the Senators who have viewed them characterized them as “sickeningly cruel”, “much worse” and “barbaric”.

    We have a right to see all these photos since we were forced to finance these crimes. Contact congress! Tell them that we demand to see all of the photos from the Abu Ghraib prison and that all those responsible be punished:

    http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/

    If this depravity is not fully exposed and punished the chances are great that it will happen again.

    History is replete with examples of the same abuse governments inflict on captured foreign enemies, as it was at Abu Ghraib, later being visited upon dissent at home. Sometimes I’m hopeful that it won’t happen here because of our republic’s legal commitment to individual rights but, the government ignored that commitment in the case of these foreigners.

  6. R.C. Dean does not think that having dogs bark at you is torture. The photos clearly show that the Iraqi has his hands and feet bound, insuring immobility as a vicious dog is baring his fangs.

    Have you ever read a memoir of anyone who has survived a German concentration camp? They always make reference to the Germans keeping vicious dogs to intimidate and terrorize the inmates of the camp.

    If the CIA had obtained photos of Hussein’s thugs using dogs to terrorize prisoners at Abu Ghraib, this imagery would have been used by Colin Powell in his presentation to the Security Council.

    Mr Dean, can you transcend your partisanship enough to let a little humanity in? These Iraqis at Abu Ghraib in many cases were innocent of any wrong doing, and the case against others has not been made public, so we don’t know what crime was considered punishable by threatening bound men with vicious dogs.

    But we do know that US military sources have stated that 70% to 90% of those detained by US forces were not guilty of anything in the first place. So I would hesitate to defend the actions taken at Abu Ghraib.

  7. First, I’d like to commend Andrew Sullivan for an excellent piece of writing.

    I am consistently disappointed by the failure of liberals to use their left brains, and I am pleased that Andrew has so thoroughly analyzed at least one instance of this phenomena.

    Second, I would like to remind everyone that a very significant reason for treating military prisoners well is that it keeps your own troops alive.

    Let me explain:

    Red and Blue are in a firefight. The battle is going poorly for Red. Red is thinking of surrendering.

    If Red can reasonably assume that he will be fed and treated well in captivity, he will likely surrender.

    On the other hand, if Red can reasonably assume that he will be tortured to death, he will be likely to fight to the death instead of surrendering.

    Torturing of prisoners isn’t just inhumane, it’s stupid. This entire episode was the result of poor discipline and poor training.

    The attempt by effete American liberals to paint this failure with a political message is both factually incorrect and morally repugnant.

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