Those photographs — again
There’s a fascinating article in The Chronicle by Susan Brison, who teaches philosophy at Dartmouth, on the significance of the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison. She puts them usefully into a wider context. For example:
“The rape of women by invading armies is a well-known tactic of war – so well known that it has typically been taken for granted – but what are we to make of peacekeepers who rape? Do they consider it torture? Apparently not. Michael A. Sells reported, in The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia, that ‘in the summer of 1992, U.N. peacekeepers under the command of Canadian General Lewis MacKenzie frequented the rape camp known as Sonja’s Kon-Tiki, in the town of Vogosca near Sarajevo. Even after they learned that the women at the Kon-Tiki were Muslim captives held against their will, abused, and sometimes killed, U.N. peacekeepers continued to take advantage of the women there and to fraternize with their nationalist Serb captors.’
In an interview on National Public Radio, Peter W. Singer, a scholar at the Brookings Institution and the author of Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, noted that civilian contractors working for DynCorp, a U.S. company hired to train police in the Balkans in the early ’90s, were involved in serious sex crimes, including “owning” young women as sex slaves. The site supervisor was so confident that sexual abuse of women would not be considered torture that he even had himself videotaped raping two young women. (Sound familiar?) Not only were the contractors never charged with criminal activity, but the company was later hired by the United States – to train the police force in post-Saddam Iraq.”
In this connection, guess how many of these private ‘contractors’ there are in Iraq? Answer: 15,000. That’s ten per cent of the total US ‘peacekeeping’ effort.