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Enemies shouldn’t set America’s standard

‘I’m probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment,’ U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, told a U.S. Senate hearing probing the Abu Ghraib prisoner outrage.
While soldiers are fighting and dying, the United States is suffering casualties in the war of public opinion, and Inhofe is frustrated. He isn’t alone.
While no one seems to say that the now-infamous treatment of Iraqi prisoners shown in photographs from Abu Ghraib was appropriate, plenty seem to argue that it is proportionate and take a ‘Who cares?’ attitude.
Even the beheading of civilian Nicholas Berg, cited by his captors as being a direct response to abuses at Abu Ghraib, has been met with two distinctly different points of view as to exactly what the act exemplifies.
Some argue that the act demonstrates the brutality of combatants in Iraq. They argue that Abu Ghraib no longer seems as severe when contrasted with Berg’s murder, and that it was already a distant second to the killings and mutilations of four civilian contractors in Fallujah.
Another side contends that Berg’s murder is the result of maltreatment of Iraqi prisoners and that such treatment only complicates the U.S. cause.
Efforts to mitigate our own misdeeds by comparing them with those of our enemy are dishonorable at best. We are supposed to be appalled by a system which stands in the way of individual rights and regards life as cheap.
We are supposed to oppose the ways of our enemy and represent a higher standard. That is why they are the enemy.
Surely, no Americans were naive enough to believe that the war in Iraq would be fought with bombs that are incapable of killing innocent people and soldiers who are incapable of war crimes.
Such crimes and civilian deaths are facts of war and should be weighed among all the other evils of war when considering whether or not to wage it. Some bombs do kill innocent people, and some soldiers do commit war crimes. We must do what we can to prevent both and take responsibility when they do occur.
In extreme cases, such as those which included injuries and sexual abuse, following orders, if indeed those soldiers were, is no longer an excuse, and it won’t stand up in a court martial.
The bottom line is that we haven’t really conquered, not in the way we want and need to, until the Iraqi people support our efforts there. Regardless of what we’ve been told about insurgents entering the country, it’s clear that much of the indigenous population remains unconvinced of our righteous motivations.
We promised a better way of life in Iraq. We need to deliver. Our national security ‘ and Iraq’s national security ‘ depends on it. And sometimes that means responding to hatred with justice that isn’t emotionally charged.
No one said it was going to be easy, and if they did, we shouldn’t have believed them. We can leave its people with a better Iraq. What they do with up it is to them.