Pictures, stories and commentaries about American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners are dominating the news. They're everywhere. I agree this regrettable incident must be addressed, but let's not lose our heads over it.
I understand the outrage. We must never condone this kind of behavior by our soldiers, even against human beings who have no respect for human life, know no bounds of decency and would gladly brutalize our soldiers in ways that would make our soldiers' mistreatment of them look like child's play. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard.
Perhaps we should apologize to the civilized world and to the Iraqi people, but I'm not so anxious to apologize to the "victims" themselves, who would probably have enjoyed eating our intestines for lunch well before the incident.
But let's not fool ourselves into believing that our genuine efforts to make amends will mollify the Arab street or foreign nations predisposed to think the worst of us. Surely we don?t think for a second that the perversely biased Arab media outlet Aljazeera, for example, will be impressed by our contrition.
Accountability means that we accept responsibility, mete out swift and sure justice to the perpetrators and take corrective measures to prevent this kind of thing from occurring again. It does not mean that we beat ourselves up to the point of questioning the righteousness or justice of our cause.
This incident is the exception involving a very small fraction of soldiers. They do not represent the average soldier, who is honorable and puts his life on the line every day to protect American security and freedom and establish Iraqi self-rule. Let's not paint our entire armed forces, the Defense Department, the Bush Administration and the United States itself with a wide brush of condemnation.
Our brass never condones this type of behavior. We have conducted this war with serious restraint and utmost humanity. This episode is the last thing the Bush Administration wanted to happen because it undermines troop and civilian morale.
Let's have some perspective here. While our handful of abusive troops represent the exception, the same is not true of our enemy, whose true nature we dare not forget. The ordinary enemy combatant is an unrepentant murderer.
The enemy and his sympathizers rejoiced as they mutilated our people and dragged them through the streets. Sex-related humiliation is one thing, but how about the deliberate killing of innocent women and children as a theological obsession?
Where's the outrage for the actions against us? Where are the condemnations? Where are the apologies?