Print Story Why is everyone so surprised?
By Gully Foyle (Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:14:45 PM EST) (all tags)
I don't understand why everyone is so shocked that US and British soldiers were torturing and humiliating their prisoners.

This is not an anti-US/UK diary...

It's been well known since at least 1971 that, unless kept under strict control, a group of people in charge of prisoners will treat them as subhuman. Seems to me that the people getting the blame here just acted the way most people would in the absence of a strict command structure.

Conversely, I think it's highly unlikely that they were ordered to do these things by anyone. Absence of orders is enough by itself to trigger this kind of treatment. I assume that the officers in charge knew this, and approved of what was going on, but can achieve plausible deniability by not having ordered any of it.

I assume that officer training includes mention of the Stanford experiment, so if the govt really wants to prevent this kind of thing in the future, the officers in charge should be prosecuted if it can be shown that they had been properly trained and were aware of what was going on. Not just if it can be shown that they ordered it.

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Why is everyone so surprised? | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
I'm Think You're Right by CheeseburgerBrown (6.00 / 2) #1 Fri May 07, 2004 at 12:16:27 AM EST
This volley is a part of a the Media War of Opinion, for the actual physical conflict. It's an opportunity to highlight American hypocrisy, a notion that makes many journalists and pundits drool uncontrollably.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski.
That may be true by Gully Foyle (3.00 / 0) #12 Fri May 07, 2004 at 11:51:07 PM EST
but I think there's more going on than just an AntiAmerican Media Conspiracy(tm).

[ Parent ]
Another perspective by farlukar (6.00 / 1) #2 Fri May 07, 2004 at 12:27:34 AM EST
Would you have done it?
90% of everything is crap. Except crap. 100% of crap is crap.
I don't know by Gully Foyle (3.00 / 0) #10 Fri May 07, 2004 at 11:41:19 PM EST
People just like me have done similar things. It's an interesting question though; since I have knowledge that people often do Very Bad Things, and think them acceptable, will I be more alert to a shift in my perceptions?

[ Parent ]
I don't think its the torture and humiliation by lm (6.00 / 1) #3 Fri May 07, 2004 at 12:39:54 AM EST
What got people going was the perversity. Ask the average person on the street about torture and humiliation for POWs, and you'll get a shrug in response. Show that same person homoerotic photos that POWs were forcibly made to pose for and you'll get an earful of shock and disgust. Such perversity violates the victim in a way that nonsexual physical torture and death do not.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
It's like by jump the ladder (3.00 / 0) #4 Fri May 07, 2004 at 12:44:52 AM EST
Become a yank Military Policeman and live out your S&M dungeon fantasies.

[ Parent ]
Don't forget by theboz (3.00 / 0) #6 Fri May 07, 2004 at 12:55:32 AM EST
There's also apparently photos dealing with women and children that have not been shown yet, and the murdered prisoner photos for some reason have been non-news.
- - - - -
That's what I always say about you, boz, you have a good memory for random facts about pussy. -- joh3n
[ Parent ]
me neither by martingale (5.66 / 3) #5 Fri May 07, 2004 at 12:52:07 AM EST
I think it has something to do with the WWII mythology. Liberating the world from evil torturers and all that. The Anglo-Saxon psyche has been conditioned to think of itself as the antithesis of cold blooded, institutionalized murderers.

As a result, they cannot acknowledge the existence of institutions and people from their own culture who behave like the Germans did in WWII.

The idea that a soldier would abuse defenceless prisoners, that his superiors would turn a blind eye or even encourage said abuse, that all of this would be organized, tallied and archived as part of normal military operations, even possibly optimized, would turn the modern American or UKian figuratively into his German WWII counterpart. And since that counterpart forms a strong basis against which this modern psyche defines itself, at least in popular culture, then identifying with this would collapse this corresponding dimension and lead to trauma.

For example, the British public has no problem believing that the Americans did commit all those crimes, but it's very hard for them to accept the same of the British troops. The Americans as a group acted similarly regarding the Guantanamo camp. Even weak assurances from the white house were sufficient accept that people there were both guilty, and treated with respect (they each got a copy of the Koran!). They would deny it regarding Iraq as well, if they could, except that the evidence is too strong in this instance.

$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

On an anecdotal note... by ti dave (3.00 / 0) #8 Fri May 07, 2004 at 07:07:29 AM EST
I've seen what happens when a squaddie mouths off to the RMP.

Pleasantly shocking.

I don't care if people hate my guts; I assume most of them do.
The important question is whether they are in a position to do anything about it. --W.S. Burroughs

[ Parent ]
While there's a lot to what you say, by Canthros (6.00 / 1) #7 Fri May 07, 2004 at 12:58:58 AM EST
and I think that Mr. Brown is pretty much spot-on, that certainly doesn't mean that we should, in any fashion, expect or condone this sort of behaviour from our respective military forces.

I'm not here, man.

I disagree by Gully Foyle (6.00 / 1) #11 Fri May 07, 2004 at 11:47:38 PM EST
I agree that we shouldn't condone it, but of course we should expect it. It's apparently human nature to do this sort of thing. Only by knowing what to expect when people are placed in this sort of situation can we prevent this kind of thing from happening.

Unless you mean that the military should already have procedures and training in place to prevent this kind of problem. Then I agree with you that we shouldn't expect it.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps expect isn't the right word. by Canthros (3.00 / 0) #13 Sat May 08, 2004 at 04:25:27 AM EST
I see no reason that we should not anticipate the possibility, and put into place measures to prevent this sort of thing from occurring again. But to suggest that, as a society, we should 'expect' this sort of thing from our soldiers implies a degree of implicit acceptance and even approval that I really don't feel comfortable with.

I'm not here, man.

[ Parent ]
But we should expect it by Gully Foyle (6.00 / 1) #14 Sat May 08, 2004 at 11:58:17 PM EST
Whether we condone it or not, expecting it is orthogonal. If it is likely to happen, then it is the expected outcome.

I think we're vehemently agreeing here; the only disagreement is over any extra meanings of the word 'expected'.

[ Parent ]
One thing to note by wumpus (3.00 / 0) #9 Fri May 07, 2004 at 12:08:34 PM EST
Is that the Bush administration is famous for being "on message".  Part of this is due to having a lapdog media, but Karl Rove has been able to enforce some sort of discipline.

To have this thing on Al Jezira and acknollaged on CNN seems to imply that the Whitehouse isn't even trying to put its puppet government in place, and is willing to simply let its troops shoot it out until after the election.


Why is everyone so surprised? | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback