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Jason Holliston
Thursday, May 06, 2004  
Abu Gharib Prison -- My Take

By now, everyone has heard about the incidents of prisoner torture and abuse at Abu Gharib. I'm not going to say how horrible it is, or how this makes America look bad, or anything like that -- these things should be obvious, unless you're a pretty extreme, well, extremist. My only take, of which I haven't seen much of in the columns and news I've read about the story, is about perspective and democracy.

Remember that every war that any country has fought has had these types of abuses by their soldiers from time to time. Do you think that a handful of American soldiers didn't commit these types of acts (and worse) in WWI, WWII, the Korean War, or in Vietnam? Of course they did. I'm sure that the Russians have had these types of things happen in all their wars, too. And China. And Great Britain. And so on. So, take this in perspective. Every war, and on each side, has some people that go outside military law and honor and do grave injustices to their country. It's inevitable, unfortunately.

So, in these types of situations, what separates Western democracies, like the United States, from say, Saddam's Iraq or Soviet Russia? It's how we deal with the aftermath of such discoveries. In this particular case, the guilty will be punished for their crimes -- of that I have no doubt. Also, steps will be put in place to reduce the likelihood of this happening again. This is what separates us. Under Saddam's rule, this type of behavior was blatantly encouraged and the guilty rewarded -- the exact opposite of our policies. Likewise, do you think that prisoner abuses in Soviet gulags would net any sort of punishment for the guards? Of course not.

So, again, these are just things to remember while this story continues to unfold in the news, and our enemies use it to add to their rhetoric.

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