There have been two stories out of Iraq this week that have stayed on my mind. One is that our guys, the folks in our military, don’t have water, so they’ve taken to breaking into places where military contractors store water and stealing it. I use the term “stealing” loosely because as anyone who follows the war knows, where Halliburton or any of its strangely named clones are concerned, it’s likely that water was supposed to go to the troops in the first place and the contractors were hording it because that’s just the kind of evil asshole thing they do.
But, in essence, what it means is that the troops are openly operating as if not all Americans in Iraq are on their side. So, not only are the Iraqis in the middle of a civil war we can’t do much about, our troops are running military operations in order to secure supplies against other Americans. Surely I cannot be the only person in America to stop a little short upon realizing that. There are no sides in Iraq any more.
That’s what it says to me. Things over there are so broken that you don’t know who is going to pull guns on whom and for what reason.
The second story hit the internet yesterday. About how Seymour Hersh is saying that we have tapes of little boys being raped in front of their mothers in Abu Ghraib. The stories of child-rapes in Abu Ghraib have been around for a long time. I know we’ve talked about it here. But the fact that we have tapes that we’re sitting on of it? Yuck.
But here’s what also stood out for me in what Hersh is saying:
I can tell you some of the personal stories by some of the people who were in these units witnessed this. I can also tell you written complaints were made to the highest officers and so we’re dealing with a enormous massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there and higher [emphasis mine].
In other words, folks who were there and who witnessed what was going on–our soldiers, our fellow Americans–knew it was wrong and reported it in good faith that reporting it, if they could get above the corruption, would end it. What they did not know was that the corruption was endemic and systemic. There was no “above” it they could get. Guards could rape children and we take the tapes, like souvenirs.
Obviously, I’ve never been in the military, but how do you trust your superiors after that? Raping children in front of their mothers does nothing to “enhance” our interrogation techniques. It serves no purpose but to destroy the victims and degrade the witnesses. The second you say, “Hey, these guys are raping kids,” it should end and the rapists, who are now clearly war criminals, should be, at the least, arrested. That’s not what happened.
The thing is, these things are happening in our name. No, I know, you don’t support this stuff and I don’t support this stuff. But America sent these folks over to Iraq and America stood by and cheered as this stuff was going on. And now? Now we’re trying to find the right language that will allow us to normalize what happened. It’s not that we “tortured” people. We used “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Except that we stood by while these children were tortured and no one has any questions at all for them.
I was just thinking about how they asked John Yoo if you could crush the testicles of a terrorist’s son in order to get the terrorist to talk and we all thought his answer of “yes” was appalling, but hypothetical.
But our soldiers seem to have been told, though in not so many words, that the rape of a child, even to no end, is fine.
Can you come back from this as a country?
I honestly don’t know.