<%-- Page Title--%> Perspective <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 156 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

May 28, 2004

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A Few Bad Apples

Srabonti Narmeen Ali

When images of the grotesque abuse of Iraqi POWs plagued TV screens and newspapers, the one thing that flashed through my head was the advertisements in hope of recruiting soldiers for the US Army running the slogan, "Be all that you can be, in the army."

How inspiring.
What the US army has shown the world is that “all they can be" is sadistic, cruel and ruthless. This is the power the world has given them. By sidestepping the UN and thumbing their noses at the Geneva Convention, the Bush Administration has given US soldiers the impression that they are invincible, all powerful, and unaccountable for any misdeeds. No country in their right mind would dream of such atrocious acts without fearing some kind of repercussions. But America did.

If this arrogance "does not represent the America that [Bush] knows," then what does? Perhaps the Mai Lai Massacre is a better representation, or Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or better yet, more recently, George Bush and Donald Rumsfield's total disregard for the Geneva Convention in Guantanamo Bay.

Even when faced with so much criticism and shame, President Bush -- for all his big words, which he cannot understand (much less pronounce) -- not only forgot to apologise, but remained defiant. His message was that these "few bad apples" are not representatives of what America stands for. Did he ever stop to think that the Muslims responsible for the bombings on September 11th were also just "a few bad apples?" Or is America's loss simply worth more than that of a poor Muslim country full of "barbarians?"

What made George Bush's trite statement so offensive was what it lacked -- something that many Muslims felt on September 11th -- humility. Although it is a known fact that those suicide hijackers did not stand for the Islam that most Muslims associate with, many of us still had the grace to realise that an injustice was being done in the name of our faith -- one that caused destruction, violence and unnecessary upheaval throughout the world. Up until now, moderate Muslims continuously try to prove again and again to the world that a select group of extremists does not represent an entire people. Did President Bush take that into consideration when he decided to send his troops to Iraq, or when he waged his notorious War on Terrorism?

If these soldiers are really just a "few bad apples" -- not representing their nation or their army, then why did they not at least think about the consequences of their actions? If America is so good and holy, why would a group of soldiers conduct themselves in such a disgusting way, and actually think that they could get away with it?

The issue is not who made the actual commands or who gave the final go-ahead on these modes of abuse and torture. The problem lies in the fact that why should any country -- be it the United States or Bangladesh or Iraq -- be immune to international standards and rules? Why is it alright for these men to be harassed and degraded in such a way -- some of whom were arrested without viable cause or reason -- while all we can do is shake our heads and cluck our tongues at the images popping up on our TV screens.

There has to be a limit, or a boundary -- an end. It all started with George Bush’s quest to “free Iraq" from an oppressive force. This was followed by an unsuccessful search for Weapons of Mass Destruction that -- much to the chagrin of George Bush -- apparently do not exist. The world heaved a sigh of relief, believing the nightmare was finally over when American troops captured Saddam Hussein. And now we are witness to this -- the sexual, physical and mental abuse, torture and humiliation of Iraqi people in the same prison that their previous oppressor used to torture them in. There has to be an end to such blatant arrogance. Today's Iraq may just be tomorrow's world.



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