Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Effects of the Iraqi prisoner horror

Some commentators have noted the danger that the scandal poses to American POWs. At first I wasn't sure if I agreed, thinking that people who would be willing to do awful things to our POWs, would do them even without the photos. But thinking some more, I could easily imagine scenarios such as a debate among enemy prison guards over how badly to treat American POWs. These pictures could help the sadistic guards overcome resistance from the less brutal guards.

The other thing I imagine will happen is that as American POWs are brutalized, they will be shown these pictures and told, "we have every right to do this to you." The psychological damage of the pictures could be as damaging as physical pain.

Finally, this is not a short-term problem. These pictures will be used against American POWs not just now but anytime in the future, in completely unrelated wars. Only when the photos appear outdated will they stop to pose a danger to Americans - I guess maybe forty years.

What a fiasco.

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