Eightface

by Dave Kellam

Attitude of war affected by photos

Bush-dog-thumbFrom an article describing how wars are often defined by the images associated with them, and how the Abu Ghraib prison photographs have affected perception of the war.

The photographs of torture in Abu Ghraib prison are horrific, as is the behaviour they have revealed. Those involved must be punished severely. But the effect they are having on attitudes to the war is entirely unwarranted. It reveals an enormous naivety on the part of many of us.

This sort of brutality goes on all the time, it is happening now in jails right through the Middle East, he says. But of course there are no photos. This is selective outrage. Kazwini believes that the behaviour revealed by the photos is awful and the US soldiers involved should be punished. But he says some of the Iraqi prisoners shown were Saddam’s killers and torturers. They have been responsible for far worse violations of human rights than the Americans.

Not to belittle the torture photographs, but I’ve had the concept of relatively jammed into my head at university. It’s worth considering additional information and placing things into context. What background to the soldiers have? And to that extent, what background and politics do their commanders have? Remember George Bush is the Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces (Dislikes: abortion, stem cells, terrorists; Likes: dropping puppies, eating bull testicles, doing lines of blow off Laura’s back). Also, what background do the prisoners have? Ethically, logically, morally, whatever… it shouldn’t matter. But it does. War is hell, but the real world does a pretty good job imitating it. There are good guys and bad guys and there are courts that attempt to straighten things out. And they all work perfectly.

The wonderful digital culture that the Western world prides itself in allows for instantaneous access to just about any piece of information we could want. We can get movies, music, news, whatever off the internet and fast. If my family happened to get a new puppy and happened to have a digital camera around, I could get a picture of it pretty damn quick. The same goes for torture photographs in Iraqi prisons. It’s the whole fast food culture thing come back to haunt foreign endeavors; instant access to the war.

The media has latched on to the photographs and put their own spin on things. Most of them will probably fail to put the photographs into perspective and life will move on when the next story comes along. The war will end without a victory and without a loss and the war will be represented by a couple of photographs. I watched Wag the Dog yesterday, it’s all eerily familiar to me.

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