The most sickening part of these photos isn't the torture, abuse, and humilitation of the prisoners, but the smiling thumbs-up that U.S. soldiers are giving in these pictures to this monstrosity. Revolting. Imagine what their families must think. "I didn't raise my ______ to be such a monster. The ARMY did it to them!" That, of course, will be their defense too.
And you know, my dad was in the Army, and I'm not convinced that the Army *doesn't* make men (and women) into monsters at times. My dad was a angry kid, and his many years in the Army certainly didn't stop him from becoming a violent, abusive, angry father. How do you uncork the ability to kill, wound, and maim, and put the cork back in once the soldier becomes a civilian? How do you heal a young soldier of his nightmares when he's seen Soviet tanks crushing crowds of civilians in the narrow streets of Hungary? How do you make a man a killer and then make him entirely human again? I don't think you always can. War is completely fucked up, insane, and unhealthy.
...and yet there is an undeniable nobility in wanting to defend one's country.
My immediate reaction to the soldiers who tortured these Iraqis is anger and the desire for equally hideous revenge upon these sadistic fucks... I've got quite an imagination for such things, and yet no punishment seems appropriate. And, of course, I'm not an Iraqi. I wouldn't know what to tell an Iraqi who felt the desire for payback against Americans, except that we're not all like that.
Then again, not everyone who was part of the Ba'ath Party was a sadistic thug, nor is everyone in Fallujah a "deadender". Is generalization of "the enemy" and the inevitable collective punishment in the name of righteous indignation that follows something that is the sole right of the U.S., or is it a game that anyone can play?
I just know that anger and revenge isn't a solution. Not enough has been said about the wisdom of not going into Fallujah and Najaf gung-ho. I hear that Bush wanted to go in, and that his advisors -- especially in the State Department and in the military -- talked him out of it. Good thing too, 'cause it has saved a whole lot of lives, and has actually helped weaken and marginalize the resistance. To their credit, those in power over in Iraq are starting to make some halfway acceptable decisions lately... but why is it that they do so begrudgingly, and only after a handful of heavy-handed options have already been tried and have failed? The question that everyone must be asking there is simply this -- is it too little, too late?
Want my idea of the right president under these circumstances? It's someone like Samuel L. Jackson in the closing scene of Pulp Fiction...
"There's a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you."
I been sayin' that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, it meant your ass. I never really questioned what it meant. I thought it was just a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker 'fore you popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this mornin' made me think twice. Now I'm thinkin', it could mean you're the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And Mr. .45 here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or is could be you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin'. I'm tryin' real hard to be a shepherd."
We need a leader who can believably tell the Iraqis to be cool like Fonzie, asking for nothing in return from them but the chance to rebuild their country, until the day when the Iraqis wake up and find we're no longer there anymore... and we need soldiers who are prepared to be heroes and examples of all that is good about their country, even when their leaders make that a very, very hard thing to do.