Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Bring out the scapegoats!

So the Abu Ghraib torture trials have started. Today, the first of the fools, Spc Sivits, goes on trial in Baghdad, and the Western World looks to punish the 'guilty' as quick as possible so we can all forget about this mess and go on building the Empire without any fuss. The problem is, I'm starting to feel pangs of irrational pity for these soldiers at the centre of the issue. As we found out recently in the now infamous New Yorker article, this type of socio-sexual torture comes right from the top. Similar, if not identical, techniques have been used in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, and these are clearly not all the work of loose cannons within the ranks. This is a directive that has to have come from the CIA/Pentagon's intelligence leaders that were under a significant amount of pressure from the Bush administration for immediate results. Pressure breeds pressure, and if the New Yorker's Hersh is correct, which would not surprise me, then there should be many more heads to roll. The chances of that happening? Very slim... These guys are the implementers, and are thus guilty as sin, but clearly they're taking the fall here. Ask the US Army, they're the guys that are the most incensed about it, as they take the fall for their political masters again!

As a concurrent theme to this debacle, Noami Klein writes a great piece in the UK's Guardian newspaper this week, noting that these soldiers were only in Iraq because they were desperate for work under Bush's "economic recovery". Sabrina Hartman was a pizza restaurant manager, whilst Lyndie England and Ivan Frederick were laid off prison guards. Also in this article is an interesting tit-bit about Bush trying to reclassify restaurants and fast-food outlets as 'manufacturing' enterprises to attempt to halt the rampant slide of job losses under the current manufacturing industry definition. Watch this space...