In the week that George Bush took to fantasising that his blood-soaked “war on terror” would lead the 21st century into a “shining age of human liberty” I went through my mail bag to find a frightening letter addressed to me by an American veteran whose son is serving as a lieutenant colonel and medical doctor with US forces in Baghdad. Put simply, my American friend believes the change of military creed under the Bush administration–from that of “soldier” to that of “warrior”–is encouraging American troops to commit atrocities.
From Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo to Bagram, to the battlefields of Iraq and to the “black” prisons of the CIA, humiliation and beatings, rape, anal rape and murder have now become so commonplace that each new outrage is creeping into the inside pages of our newspapers. My reporting notebooks are full of Afghan and Iraqi complaints of torture and beatings from August 2002, and then from 2003 to the present point. How, I keep asking myself, did this happen? Obviously, the trail leads to the top. But where did this cult of cruelty begin?
And yet the Australian media feigns outrage that “our” boys would misbehave in Iraq? What’s a little dehumanisation between mates?