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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

War Porn 

The most recent "war porn" story brings up an aspect of the Iraq war which hasn't really been discussed much until now -- just how sexualized this war is.
If you haven't seen anything about the war porn story yet, don't be surprised -- it was initially broken by the East Bay Express in San Fransisco, and publicized yesterday by Americablog, so the story is just starting to get national traction and is being covered by Associated Press as we speak. Be warned, these photos will make you sick -- but sicker still is the commentary from users of the porn site where these photos are posted.
Digby writes:
There is something very disturbing about the images of sexual torture we've seen and heard about in this war, generally. The forced masturbation, the pyramids, the female interrogators and the fake menstrual blood, the constant nudity, all of it. Violence against prisoners in the new Human Rights Watch report is expressed as 'fucking' instead of beating. Not 'fucking up' or 'fucking with' --- just plain 'fucking' as in 'I walking in and saw him fucking the prisoner.' I cannot help but think that something has gone terribly wrong here. From the top of the hierarchy ordering sexual humiliation techniques, to obscure web-sites selling war gore and pictures of girls next door together, this is a very sexualized war and it's damned strange, particularly coming from a regime that pretends to be an arbiter of strict sexual morals. It's clear that the leadership of this country is extremely concerned with consensual sex between two adults but they find images of sexual violence and kinky torture techniques to be thoroughly acceptable among soldiers and useful to the war effort. This is a very odd perception and one that leads us back to the conclusion that something extremely unhealthy has invaded our body politic.

One could say that all wars have their evil aspects, and that war is by definition pornographic, of course, but I think at least in part it also goes back to the particular illegality and immorality of this particular war.
For the first time, the US is fighting a preemptive war, one which did not receive any sanction from the UN, one in which no participant asked for US help, one which was based on an illegal rationale of regime change.
And it turned out to be an unjustified war, because Iraq actually posed no threat to the US at all. Neocon belief to the contrary, Iraq didn't even threaten Israel, in spite of Saddam's bombastic support for the Infidada suicide bombers.
It is an immoral war which the Bush administration is still forcing its troops to fight. There is no principle here and the troops know it. All this talk about "fighting terrorism" is just so much bunk and they know it in their hearts -- they are the occupiers, the oppressors, and the occupied just want them to leave.
So it is not surprising that the immorality of the war as a whole is now being reflected in the individual immorality of some of the troops fighting it.
I blogged last week that watching the TV series "Over There" is like watching World War II from the German side. The reality is becoming just as chilling.
Here is the Human Rights Watch report on Captain Ian Fishback's account of what happened to prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fishback wants the military leadership to accept its ultimate responsibility.
Look, the guys who did this aren’t dishonorable men. It’s not like they are a bunch of vagabonds. They shown more courage and done more things in the time that I’ve spent with them than I could cover in probably a week of talking to you. They are just amazing men, but they’re human. If you put them in a situation, which is the officer’s responsibility, where they are put in charge of somebody who tried to kill them or maybe killed their friend, bad things are going to happen. It’s the officer’s job to make sure bad things don’t happen . . . [We need] to address the fact that it was an officer issue and by trying to claim that it was “rogue elements” we seriously hinder our ability to ensure this doesn’t happen again. And, that has not only moral consequences, but it has practical consequences in our ability to wage the War on Terror. We’re mounting a counter-insurgency campaign, and if we have widespread violations of the Geneva Conventions, that seriously undermines our ability to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. If America holds something as the moral standard, it should be unacceptable for us as a people to change that moral standard based on fear. The measure of a person or a people’s character is not what they do when everything is comfortable. It’s what they do in an extremely trying and difficult situation, and if we want to claim that these are our ideals and our values then we need to hold to them no matter how dark the situation.
Well, of course. But your chances of getting military leadership to accept their responsibility for what is going on are pretty slim. Here is the most recent bit from the Army showing just how much it intends to back up its troops. This is from a report just published in National Review Online entitled "Detainee Details: Accountability and progress" by Army secretary Francis Harvey and Army chief of staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker
Against this backdrop of honor, service and sacrifice, a small number of our soldiers have not lived up to the Army values. Their actions, or failures to act, have brought discredit to our great institution, and worse, led to the injury or deaths of detainees in military custody. While the actions of these few soldiers were clearly reprehensible, they are not representative of Army values; nor were they in any way, shape, or form authorized by Army policy, doctrine, or training.
Sigh. So much for Captain Fishback's belief that the military leadership would take any responsibility for anything.
You're on your own, boys.
"I was just following orders" isn't going to be an option for you, either.

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