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Saturday, May 01, 2004

IRAQ PRISONER ABUSE It goes without saying really that the behaviour of the British troops in Iraq and of their US colleagues in the Baghdad prison is completely and utterly unacceptable. Not only that but there is also no excuse for it. Killing or mistreating prisoners or civilians in an actual combat zone while the bullets are still flying is something that is still wrong but under the circumstances I am not going to throw too much of a hissy over it - I am not a soldier, I have never been in a firefight and I am not arrogant enough to think that I could be judgemental nonetheless against those who have taken that duty upon themselves when I personally have no real understanding of such a situation. However under such controlled and safe circumstances as the relevant atrocities have taken place there is no excuse and no explanation necessary. Those responsible need to have the book thrown at them with the full force available.
Beyond the legal-moral aspect to this we also have to keep in mind what damage this does to our propaganda efforts. These are the kind of things that make the average Iraqis who are supportive of our coalition distinctly cool about cooperating with our troops.
One of the ironies of this whole situation is that it still shows that we are the "good guys". In Saddam's days prison guards that committed such acts were not reprimanded and not praised either for the simple sick reason that they would simply have been following orders. Our military on the other hand is investigating the matter and should see a fair number of court martials and dishonourable discharges.
The main point about the whole affair however is fairly simply and that is that it doesn’t change anything. To use an analogy, just because they mistreat prisoners occasionally no one of us would seriously suggest abolishing the police and arguing they should go nowhere where they could arrest somebody.

Apologies for not being back to my hawkish self as promised on Wednesday but I’m still in need of some nourishing food and a full night's sleep *yawn*. Have yourselves a nice weekend.

PS: As for the media coverage it is "odd" that while the constant stream of critical reports about our forces' behaviour in the south only made it into the back pages of the Guardian, US mistakes merit frontpage splashes and the majority of air time. I'm not saying the relevant media is somehow anti-American, it's just that I find this discrepancy "odd". To be fair they have also suddenly now picked up on the British abuses even though the first substantial allegation surfaced quite a while back. I suppose that’s how they get the British-poodle-narrative back in order again.

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