The battle over Iraq is (regardless of the uptick in violence over the last six weeks) ultimately a battle over ideas. In some ways, the same can said of the war on terror. That’s why the now very public abuses of Iraqi prisoners is such a big deal. Did the soldiers working in the prisons come up with the abuse plans on their own? It’s not likely. Is the Arab media really as shocked as they seem to be about this level of abuse in a POW setting? Of course not. Is the weird pleasure that some of the guards seemed to be exhibiting in the photos a major shock? Maybe. But maybe not. See Stanford’s Prison Experiment from the summer of 1971.
Bottom line; the pictures are out there. And more will certainly follow (even if they turn out to be fake). And this situation will strike one more blow to the perception of Americans as liberators in Iraq. And that kind of a setback is equally if not more powerful than anything that happened in Falluja.
Richard Myers on the abuses: “Where a handful of people can sully the reputation of hundreds of thousands of people that are over there trying to give a better life to 50 million people, it’s a big deal, because we take this very seriously. There are a lot of Iraqis that have daily contact with our forces, and they get to know the character and the compassion of our forces. And so they probably understand this is an aberration. Not that it won’t be used against the United States of America. It certainly will.”