Digby has been doing diligent work in trying to suss out just what weird turn our society and culture have taken, where we can just let shit like this go on, or worse yet, have military men who will defend it:
Disgusting, and creepy as all hell. And hey, remember Abu Ghraib? Turns out there are more bad apples:
So let me get this straight -- was Abu Ghraib an aberration, the work of a few warped souls working in concert, unbeknownst to the rest of the entire military? Well, let's walk that one back a bit -- if it really was just a few "bad apples", which by definition means that everyone else around them realizes that it's morally repugnant and criminally indefensible, then why has it taken so long for these incidents to come out? Why has the Pentagon dragged its feet every step of the way? Why have they not been more proactive in weeding these psychopaths out of the armed forces? And why have they not been more forthcoming with relevant facts and information (not to mention why they've steadfastly resisted the release of the second -- supposedly worse -- round of Abu Ghraib photos for the public to see exactly what the hell has been going on) regarding these abuses?
Right from the very first revelations of Abu Ghraib, and now into this "war porn" shit, there is a very strange and disturbing conflation between sadistic, forced sex and extreme violence. What sort of person gets off on breaking a man's leg with a baseball bat, or forcing him to perform oral sex on fellow prisoners, or anally raping him with a glow stick?
And what sort of cultural mindset inculcates and protects that shit? What sort of jackal wears a "club Gitmo" shirt like they're fucking proud of that shit? Oh, we can all feel a little bit better because that smirking inbred baboon Lynndie England got convicted. But think about it -- the only reason she and the rest of her crew got caught is because one man stepped up. One. So again, we have to take what we're used to hearing about the discipline and moral decency of the military code of honor and ethics, and filter it through the stark fact that only one person gave enough of a shit to let the world know what the hell was going on there.
For now, obviously the military is going to take whoever they can, but if we ever get out of this mess, there needs to be a top-down re-tooling of procedural enforcement. This will not stand -- either we're better, or we're not. Being better means more than just telling everyone over and over again, it means holding yourselves to a higher code of conduct.
And if it really is just a few dozen loose screws in the machinery, then it shouldn't be such a problem to weed them out. Presumably the other 99% which maintains its moral values understands just how much these incidents embarrass and disgrace the good name of this country and its people. Either they take such things seriously or they don't. There's just no middle ground on letting Army cooks blow off steam by beating prisoners with baseball bats.
As far as how the war itself is going, well, try to look past the body counts for a second -- if you can -- and focus on a more quotidian metric. It's impossible to win over an occupied populace whose very ability to just lead an everyday life has been denied them:
Urine is very haram in Islamic culture; apparently men urinate sitting down to prevent even a drop from splashing on their garments. Plus the universal masculine hang-up with outsiders punking you in front of the whole neighborhood. Think you might be a little radicalized if you were in that poor bastard's shoes, and got pegged in the head with a bottle of pee?
And that's what the citizens of Baghdad see day after day after scorching day -- they get an average of 8 hours a day of electricity, while the liberators go 24/7. Truly I boggle at these folks that don't get why some Iraqis might not be buying into our empty rhetoric. They don't want to hear the mushmouth-in-chief babble on endlessly about "freedom" this and "democracy" that. They want lights to come on when they flip the switch. They want to have a job, and be able to go to that job without wondering if they'll make it back home. They want their kids to be able to attend those freshly repainted schools without having to worry about kidnappers and killers. Imagine that.
For the most part, they had those things under Saddam and his psychopathic mafia family. They do not have those things anymore. Happy words babbled incessantly do not change that simple fact.
As for the original war -- you know, against the fuckers that actually did 9/11 -- we're still there, fighting a Taliban insurgency that, while diminished, has adapted and is gathering strength:
The article goes on to state that funds are coming from zakat, Muslim tithing. How much you want to bet that the majority of the mosques who are kicking upstairs to these thugs are in Pakistan, followed closely by Saudi Arabia? I bet Iraq's mosques are fifth at best.
But we are where we are, with no plan, no opposition party, a fragile economy that's about to go down the poopchute, and a governing party that couldn't care less, so long as gays can't get married and we're cracking down on porn.
Maybe Nader was right; maybe things had to get way worse before we'd come to our senses and care enough to turn it around. Let's hope it's not too late. Some of the things we're doing in our Noble Cause, that we're largely indifferent or indignant about, seem symptomatic of a larger cultural malaise. Maybe we're just intellectually flabby. Whatever the case, it's gotta end soon, or we're sunk. Talk about slouching toward Gomorrah, we're whipping feces at the city walls like a band of crazed chimps.