Article Overview:    Americans torturing prisoners in Iraq!   I cringed when I saw the pictures and felt the sinking horror of a few bad apples tainting the Tree of Liberty and Freedom, the ultimate reason we are fighting in Iraq.   But it was the ugliness of war, and the Complacency of the world to step in eradicate tyrants that led to this bitter scenario.  Does it mean America is wrong or should leave Iraq, or that all the deaths of the brave who gave their lives so far have been demeaned by such actions?  Find out.


Saturday, May 2,, 2004—Ground Zero Plus 963
Torture, Terrorism & Iraq:
Another Quagmire?

Cliff McKenzie

 GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--May 2, 2004 -- I am saddened this morning at the cycle of the Quagmire.   

A few days ago was the 25th anniversary of America's withdrawal from Vietnam

      A few days ago was the 25th anniversary of America's withdrawal from Vietnam, to some, it marks the first time America was defeated in a war against tyranny and oppression.
      It was a double anniversary, for it also marked the date in 1954 that the French withdrew from Vietnam after seeking to bring Vietnam into the world of democracy.
      But what is most troubling about this date is the impending fear that America will be driven out of Iraq by the same quagmire that resulted in its retreat from Vietnam.
      The pressure is exacerbated in Iraq by the recent disclosure of torture and humiliation of some Iraqi prisoners by American military police guarding them in prisons in Baghdad.

Across the world photos of tortured Iraqi prisoner were shown

       Across the world photos of Iraqi prisoners with bags over their heads standing on wooden boxes with electrical wires dangling from them, allegedly hooked up to generators that would shock them if they fell from the boxes, crashed across the world.   Those opposed to the presence of American forces in Iraq pointed to the abuse as similar to what Saddam Hussein applied to the people of the country where 140,000 American troops are fighting to liberate.   President Bush called the situation "disgusting" and issued immediate orders for those involved to be punished.
        War is ugly.
        In Vietnam I witnessed the horrible torture of prisoners, and the inhumanity of some against captives.   War brings out the Beast of Terror in us all.   The nature of War is not humane, and the fine line between "moral" and "immoral" actions of individuals becomes so blurred that none of us can imagine, least of all truly measure.
       This inability to control and measure the actions of individuals in war creates the quagmire, for while a few might tip over and become the Beast they fight, using the cruel and inhumane tactics of the enemy they seek to destroy, the vast majority remain on the side of humanity and civility, but the taint of the few poisons the well.    The bad apple infects the good fruit.

American soldiers remove barbed wire from the highway linking Baghdad to Fallujah

       Then there is the use of Iraqi troops storming into embattled towns wearing former Iraqi uniforms to the cheers and jubilation of citizens who hate American occupation.     American Marines retreat from the city Fallujah turning it over to those former Iraqi soldiers, hoping that the local people can calm a city rather than forcing Americans to fight house to house to eliminate the insurgents.
        This shift in power suggests defeat, for some believe we are turning the country back over to the next generation of Saddam, to men with guns and a license to kill to calm the populace, rather than exposing Americans to the job of destroying the enemy, who, can hardly be distinguished from the innocent.
        When I saw the pictures of the military police torturing and humiliating prisoners, my stomach knotted.    I knew this was more than the beginning of the end of American presence in Iraq.
         The sad part of it is that Terrorism wins by default, one more time.    We become the worst of our own enemy, for when we fight Terrorism we endanger ourselves to becoming what we fight.
         "Those who swim with sharks will be eaten by them."
         The few who participated in the tortures and humiliation of the prisoners have been eaten by the Beast of Terror, swallowed and digested, and excreted out as the Beast's step-child.

"I know the feeling......."

        I know that feeling.  When I first went to war the idea of killing turned my stomach, but after witnessing the killing, you become numb to it.  Your moral compass spins about.   You watch your own buddies maimed and killed by enemy snipers or booby traps, and you seek vengeance for their deaths.  You sight in and kill with no compunction, and, you show no mercy to prisoners who may be able to tell you where the next booby trap or sniper is, for the life of the enemy is demeaned to nothing compared to the life of a comrade.
          While I cannot justify or condone what the military police did to the prisoners, I understand their actions.    I understand also that if one of the Terrorists who flew the planes into the World Trade Center survived the crash, that thousands of people on the ground, had he been able to walk about, could easily have become so enraged that they might have ripped him to pieces with their bare hands, taken chunks of concrete from the rubble and bashed his head into pulp, gouged out his eyes.
         These people could have been men and women, mothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters of those victims who senselessly died.     Not all the people might have participated, but they would have watched as the "enemy" was kicked and beaten to death.
         A "terrorist" who rapes or abuses a child can easily infect a parent with such "killer" rage, to seek vengeance for the crime of violation against the innocent.   Those military police torturing those prisoners may have picked the worst of the criminals, the ones running rape and torture rooms, and tried to deliver their own illegal and immoral justice and retribution against them.  We do not know the conditions surrounding their acts, only that the guards took the law of perverted justice into their own hands, and those hands have transformed into the claws of the Beast of Terror.
         My wife made a comment to me about the situation:   "If we don't want these things to happen, we have to stop going to war."

My wife said "If we don't want these things to happen, we shouldn't go to war at all"

        She didn't mean get out of Iraq.  She meant that war perverts us all, especially those fighting in it.   
         She realizes, as I do, that war is the ultimate pustule of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.    For years the world sat back and let Saddam grow into a Beast.   The United Nations continued to debate the right of a tyrant to ravage his people and took no action.  Then, when the United State singularly took on the role of "Terror Hunter," it thrust its power against the Beast of Terror as it has throughout history, and in the process, put its Soldiers of Vigilance into the jaws of the Beast.
         Few people want to remember how American soldiers shot German prisoners with their hands up at Normandy on D-Day.    The movie Saving Private Ryan showed some scenes of vengeful Americans pumping lead and bayoneting the surrendering German troops, but that scene, as all scenes of war, was simply part of an ugly bloodletting that evokes the Beast in us all when we try to account for the deaths of our friends, our buddies and pass grace on to those who took their lives.
        It would be hard for any human to hug and love the person who raped, mutilated and killed one of their family members, but war asks us to shift gears from "trained killer" in one breath into machines of compassion and humanity in the other.
        We are supposed to be able to flick off and on the "humanity" and "inhumanity" switch when we move from the battlefield to guarding the enemy we just sought and vowed to kill, and that transition is like making black white, or white black.

There is no excuse for crossing the line

        This is not an excuse for behavior that crosses the line between Vigilance and Beast, protector and prosecutor, guardian and tyrant, but it is a fact.
         In Vietnam I witnessed many tortures, far more brutal than anything exposed in the recent scandal.  The perversion of war itself twists all moral basis because one gives another a gun to kill the rules change, and the one with the gun or the bomb becomes "almighty," now able to draw his or her moral lines.
        Parents exhibit this "almighty power" in the abuse of their children, ranging from "being too busy to listen" to a child's thirst to share the excitement of a day, to the threatening raising of a hand that endangers the child's helpless body if he or she violates the "rules."

Some parents take pleasure in "torturing" their children

      Some parents take great pleasure in "torturing" their children by "punishing" them in brutal ways, either physically or emotionally.   If a mother says to a child:  "I wish you were never born," or, "it's too bad you're not as pretty as others," or, "it's too bad you're not as smart as others," there is little difference between such torture to a child's innocence or its self image than making an Iraqi prisoner stand on a box with a hood on and electrical wires dangling from various body parts.
        This may be an "ugly" perspective, but it all comes down to the source of Terrorism.    That source can be traveled back to the family household, whether it be in Iraq or America.    A Terrorist is bred by its parents.

       Nevertheless, I am sickened and saddened but not surprised by the photos.   Each and every day in America at police stations throughout our nation, thousands of "torture" reports are filed.   Men and women file complaints for abuse, where one or another attacked and brutalized the other weaker one, and this includes the children whose bodies swell with bruises from belts or pinch marks or slaps as well as the hidden bruises on their souls where words or perverted actions, slamming like brass-knuckled fists against their self image or self worth, left deep scars on their souls.
         There are Corporate Terrorists at work, lording vicariously over employees as Saddam Hussein might, threatening their job security if they don't do this or that, turning workers into slaves bound to the necessity of a job, and berating them with whips and threats of being fired or not getting the promotion often dangled above them as a tool to seek submission.
         The torture in Iraq is one of many kinds of Terrorism we live with daily, but to isolate it out of the pack and make ourselves feel "cruddy" or to impugn in value of America's role as "peacemaker" or "TerrorHunter," or "Sentinel of Vigilance" would be wrong.   
          What we need to do is to take a look at the sources of war, and to realize that if we, Americans, become the Nation of Vigilance, where each and every parent vows to ward off the Beast of Terror in our own homes first, then we will be much safer in going to other lands to help them instill the same Principles of Vigilance in their lands.

If we are at war with ourselves, how can we spread peace to the world?

         If anything, the torture of the Iraqis remind us that we have a ways to go within our own country to become Sentinels of Vigilance, for we cannot spread to the world "peace" if we are still at war with ourselves.
         We can start by all taking the Pledge of Vigilance.   Doing that, and reducing the torture and pain and suffering we impose on our children through issuing them unwarranted Fear, Intimidation and Complacency will go a long way in the process of creating peace and ending conflict.
        In the interim, before we impose harsh judgment on those who abused and tortured the Iraqis, we need to do an inventory on whether we are a terrorist at home or work, and ask our children or employees, as well as ourselves, what degrees of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency we inject upon them by default or design.
       When we're done examining our own "Terrorist Inventory," if we have time, we can then throw rocks at others, but not until.

April 29--A Tribute To A Fallen Marine Sentinel of Vigilance

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