Brigadier General Janice Karpinski says the six American military personnel involved in alleged prisoner abuse in Iraq were following orders. Karpinski is making the media rounds “on leave,” and last night appeared on more than one major TV show. She was looking quite masculine on Grete Van Susteren’s show, with her navy blue double breasted sports blazer, and her white open collar shirt with blue pin stripes.
Her explanation seems as incredulous as any other, at this point. A December, 2003 report says Karpinski is in charge of 15 prisons in Iraq, and has some 3,400 National Guard Army reservists under her command. (The report also says she’s been married 29 years to Lt. Col. “George,” witout children.) This report is obviously intended to be flattering to Karpinski, yet, by it’s date, is has to be considered also essentially honest. It is no piece of cover-up or damage control. It was written 5 months before the sex scandal. It does not, however, give any clues as to the motivation or explanation for the conduct of the American soldiers in question.
The ill effects of the photos released have to have been foreseen. Therefore, it was a plan or plot of some kind. The next questions have to be directed at motivation. The media right now is absorbed in the blame game, as always, luxuriating in the scandal. Media wants names, top names, for the excitement of it all. “Who’s responsible?” is the exciting question. Motivation of the acutal perpetrators seems a little too difficult for media to pursue.
But there are only a few possibilities afforded by rational thinking:
1) The soldiers were paid by anti-American activists (of various Arabic nationalities, and also including American white liberals),
2) The soldiers themselves have personal sexual problems, either from personal history or present conditioning, and “cracked” under the tempation of the circumstances,
3) Karpinski’s incredulous explanation: they were following orders.
Karpinski’s explanation is not likely, but reflects her self-consciousness regarding ‘chain of command’ and who’s “responsible.” The blame game fits so perfectly in this situation. Amricans are used to it. Lawyers and liars and media have made us used to it.
The soldiers obviously have a lack of standards regarding sexual proprieties. War conditions pressure anyone, but, their manner of “cracking” clearly shows a personal problem in the soldiers.
There is the distinct possibility, if not probability that this was all designed to confound the war effort. It is either that, or the individual soldiers just fell into their own vices, and the whole matter is incidental.
When President Bush offers his response, it can only involved two aspects: justice, and perspective. “We’ll get to the bottom of it, and justice will be served,” is what he will likely say. And also, he may cite the incredibly wide spread depravity under Hussein, and the likelihood that Iraqis in charge, working for the new regime, are wreaking out their own revenge on prisoners.
The involvement of American soldiers will nevertheless be a focus for a good while. Maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe it will help clean up a lot. Let’s hope there’s more success there than here in America, land of the Howard Sterns and Janet Jacksons, where, once again, ‘those responsible’ were pursued, like Viacom and CBS, rather than the individual’s committing the offenses.
Let’s try to set a proper example through the new Iraqi regime. Lawyers, always the problem, pursue collectibles, not criminals. There’s more money in the big commandos than in the individual offenders. Let’s hope that we can focus directly on the offenders for a change, and not the collectibles.
Karpinski has unfortunately already pointed law and justice in the wrong direction. And we’ve already had our Clintonian apology. A lot of good that does.
At this rate, Iraq will sue the American military, or the U.S. government, like like Iran is trying to do through the Hague.