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Thesis & Antithesis

A critical perspective on energy, international politics & current affairs

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Location: Washington, D.C.

greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

24 October 2005

Abu Ghraib ghosts?

On Saturday, the BBC ran a story about “soldiers [who] were filmed allegedly desecrating two bodies and then taunting locals” in Afghanistan (1). This is another incident in the war of symbols where Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay are the towering stories.

This brings me to something I heard recently from two different sources, both intimately familiar with the Middle East and Iraq. When asked about Abu Ghraib, they both responded, “not a big deal.” If I can paraphrase them: Iraqis have lived with cruelty for a long time and they perfectly understood these images—it didn’t make much difference.

It is possible to make the argument that Abu Ghraib undermined the message that America was meant to bring forth a different order. In that sense, Abu Ghraib did not shock Iraqis but that’s not good. But the account I heard was different (again in paraphrase and elaboration): Iraqis understand the terror and nastiness of war. They will judge America by the end result. Abu Ghraib was hijacked to serve other agendas.

This was surely an interesting perspective that is not found often in the Western press.

(1) “Taleban burning claims 'harm US’,” BBC News, 22 Oct 05 (link)


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