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Search words: winter soldier
Courts martial of UK soldiers over abuse of Iraqi prisoners
anti-war / imperialism |
Tuesday January 18, 2005 22:10 by Phuq Hedd
Guardian newspaper report of confession by one soldier
The Guardian carries a quiet little story about how one of the UK soldiers being court martialled over abuse of Iraqi prisoners admits to being "ashamed".
This trial supposedly arose out of the discovery of "disturbing" photographs by a woman working in a photo-processing laboratory.
The soldiers are said to have (besides beating the prisoners) have forced their prisoners to simulate anal and oral sex.
At this stage we have several confirmed reports of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US and UK forces despite these having been dismissed as "photoshopped images" or "black propaganda" or other "I don't believe it if I don't see it with my own eyes because we're on the side of Democracy and Freedom" denials.
So, why is there so much sexual abuse coming to light in this conflict.
There are several possible hypotheses to explain this and Abu Ghraib (some of them overlap slightly):
1) The War Is Hell Hypothesis.
The sexual abuse is carried out as the result of soldiers being trained in these techniques specifically as a weapon of war and interrogation.
It is important to try and break down the evidence of different types of abuse carefully in order to accept or deny this hypothesis. Some of the reports coming out of Abu Ghraib specifically mentioned the use of urine-soaked cloth bags used to suffocate prisoners. This is a pretty specific type of weirdness and it is suspicious that this is exactly one of the techniques used by Israeli intelligence services. The rape of female prisoners and male prisoners is another type of abuse. One that has not been conclusively proven yet. There have been reports of the prevalance and use of rape within US prisons for decades, and unless we're to suppose a fundamentally different type of human in the US, there's no reason to suppose that this would be anything other than business as usual for prison guards. Indeed Spc Grainer testified that the use of the leash and "human pyramid" were nothing unusual, and like many of the guards his background in "civilain" life was working as a rural prison guard. On the other hand the _simulation_ of rape doesn't seem to be that common and again there are reports of Israeli militiary intelligence specialists fixating on this as a good way to humiliate Islamic prisoners to isolate them from their community.
2) The Andrea Dworkin Hypothesis
Most men (especially those attracted to serve in armies) are sexual abusers and rapists: it comes naturally to them and when they find themselves in positions of power they express this side of their nature.
In support of this let's remember that rape, torture, stealing have a long history, especially with invading armies and it took a long time to agree to rules of war that forbade this behaviour. A fragile and poorly observed consensus the US has been busy undoing for the past 30 years at least ( rape and torture were widespread in Vietnam, Mai Lai being an exceptionally well-documented but not unusal case as pointed out by the winter soldier testimonies; the killing and torture of activist US nuns in El Salvador by US-supported paramilitaries being another well-documented case).
3) The Rapists are Victims Too Hypothesis
Sexual (and physical) abuse is common in armies and soldiers being on the receiving end of sexual abuse in turn become abusers themselves.
This could also be seen as the Rum, Sodomy & The Lash hypothesis. A band of brutes, brutalising each other and anyone they are unleashed upon. There are certainly reports of the abuse of women in the US (The Tailhook Scandal) forces.
So far all the information we have has come about through accidental civilian leaks. The armed forces internal controls and their governmental watchdogs have failed to present, deliver or expose any of this material.
It is not unreasonable to suppose that they have covered up or not found out about a lot more.