Abuse of prisoners goes far beyond Abu Ghraib
Regarding John Shattuck's May 16 Opinion piece "On Abu Ghraib: One sergeant's courage a model for US leaders": In 1973, a Marine Corps veteran described his Saturday nights as an MP to me as "the funniest time I ever had." His job was to police an area the military frequented to let off steam. He'd make an arrest, take the victims back to the brig, and then beat them using his nightstick for no purpose other than the joy of torturing his victims.
We're fooling ourselves if we think Abu Ghraib is unique to its time and place. This behavior has been going on a long, long time. There might not be anyone at the top directing torture. It runs on autopilot because a culture of abuse is already in place. Anyone, friend or foe, can be victimized at any time. To make it stop, the military culture must be changed. That will require a strong top-level commitment - a commitment from no lesser person than the Commander-in-Chief.
Michael R. Benning
Regarding the May 27 article "Pressure builds on Iraq's insurgents": I remember the civil war in my country of origin, El Salvador, as media's never-ending babbling about how close the local guerrillas were to total defeat. It didn't happen. Worst of all, when the reports talked about the imminent defeat of the guerrillas in the capital city, most people knew such claims were rather imaginary.
A professor of mine once made a point about the emerging organizations in Russia after communism. She said that under brutal, dictatorial regimes, the only organizations which would survive and thrive would be those with clandestine practices and those with deep ideological motivations, especially religious ones. That explained the fundamentalist revolution in Iran, the Russian mafia, and the development of some nasty criminals who have undertaken various jihads. That might explain what's going on in Iraq.
I agree in principle with the conclusion in your May 26 editorial "Don't Cross This Space Frontier" not to "weaponize" space. The problem is not whether the US should weaponize or not, but how to prevent other countries from weaponizing space.
If the 2003 Iraq war has demonstrated anything useful, it is the problem with internationalization. Treaties are not important unless there is force behind them.
Knowing that countries will always pursue their own interests, do you want to leave US protection in the hands of the UN or some international treaty? I think not.
What do you think will happen when a rogue state decides to buy its way onto a commercial space launch in order to place a "communication" satellite into space only to navigate it to an American GPS satellite and destroy it?
Today the world relies on the ability to communicate and navigate by these satelites, and "passive" defense is not an option. The best defense is a good offense, and the deployment of weaponized satellites is a logical next step not only in protecting the US but in ensuring global economic security.
A. S. Hamilton
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