The story of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison continues, fueled in large part by the press which has latched on to a story with seemingly sensational pictures. What US soldiers did to these prisoners is without a doubt horrible, however, this all need to be put in context, something the press refuses to do. Why was this done to these prisoners? As mentioned in a previous post, the idea of humiliation is very important in the Arab culture. Humiliation is also a very important technique in interrogation of prisoners - the interrogator must break the spirit of the prisoner before good information can be obtained. For Arab men to be naked and powerless before women and to have pictures taken of this, would accomplish these goals. If we assume that these Iraqi prisoners are in Abu Ghraib not for something like petty theft, but for activities against the Coalition now or against other Iraqis in the past, and that they may have information that would be helpful in preventing deaths of Coalition soldiers and Iraqi civilians, then their treatment should be seen in a different light than that presented by the press.
For other Arabs to be shocked at these happenings is the height of hypocrisy. It reminds one of Captain Louis Renault saying in the movie Casablanca "I'm shocked ... shocked to find that gambling is going on in here." When four US contractors were brutally murdered and mutilated by a mob we heard nothing from the Arab world, yet a few pictures of naked Iraqi prisoners cause outrage. (Cox&Forkum had a perfect cartoon
of this a few days ago.) Not even to mention what goes on in the very countries where people are so "upset" at this treatment of prisoners.
This is in no way to compare or excuse the behavior of these US soldiers by pointing to the abuse so prevalent in every single Arab regime; we rightly hold ourselves to a higher standard. But these events perfectly illustrate the differences between us and them: we are appalled by these images, we investigate and punish the people responsible; they, on the other hand commit the most horrible atrocities and always find ways of justifying it.