Archive for Iraq

The Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse in Iraq -Subjection & the workings of Power

Posted in Middle East, Politics, War with tags , , , , , on June 25, 2009 by mariayzk

cgr_eng_iraq_afghanistanWe often construct images of aliens to define ourselves in contrast as normal, and in doing so set standards of right and wrong; punishing those considered others by engaging in wars and violent activities. It is a tactic; a thought out strategy to prevent the other from rising to power. The war on Iraq was initiated on similar grounds; to protect and discipline this other.

As the respected Shri Shri Ravi Shankar quoted; war to him denotes worse action for reason. Even though the war on Iraq, like any other war was fought on the grounds of being a disciplinary practice, in reality it demonstrated clear power politics between states; played to control the bodies within the states and threatening their ultimate human security.

When I first heard about the incident, a number of questions sprung to my mind. What was the extent of these abuses and what exactly caused the American soldiers to perform such heinous acts? Yet, the more answers I tried to find, the more conflicting my judgments became due to differing media projections. However, I was anxious to determine where the accountability of these abuses truly lies; in black and white, the American soldiers were the culprits, but what if there is a grey in between? What if the American soldiers were socially disciplined and trained to act in ways that they did.

The abuses at Abu Ghraib might have occurred in a physical prison built out of steel and concrete, but what about the psychological prisons that the American soldiers, along with the Iraqi detainees subjectified into? Here, it would be noteworthy to mention that such mental prisons are not isolated to the Abu Ghraib incident solely; they are social constructs of society, brought into form when we construct divisions; like us and them, sane and insane. Hence, even though the American soldiers were the explicit agents in these abuses, other implicit factors, like racism, religion and sexism were all at play together. When the soldiers were abusing the Iraqis, they were in reality abusing the enemy, the evil, the other. Continue reading