The abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American troops shocked and enraged the world and the American authority has been put in the defendant's seat at the human moral court by global media. Facing a higher and higher wave of indignation and condemnation, US politicians were forced to apologize, but meanwhile they argued that the prisoner abuse was only an "isolated case" and was the "act of a few people", that "doesn't represent the United States".
Fortunately, some media made serious investigations into the matter. A recent article carried on the Washington Post said that the abuse of prisoners at least should be attributed to US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's open remarks and policy decisions. As early as two years ago, the article pointed out, Rumsfeld declared in public that the United States was no longer bound by the Geneva Convention; not long ago, he claimed during a television interview that the Geneva Convention was not fully applicable to US prisons in Iraq. What worth noticing is that Rumsfeld made the remark even after Major General Antonio Taguba submitted a secret report on prisoner abuse to the Pentagon on March 3. Taguba made it clear in his report that from October to December 2003, there appeared many times in the Abu Ghraib Prison shameless, abnormal and licentious abusing acts towards Iraqi prisoners. Some American officers and soldiers there deliberately perpetrated the above-mentioned deeds and Iraqi prisoners suffered sadist, impudent and merciless maltreatment. Recently revealed intelligence showed it was precisely the Pentagon that approved as many as more than 20 interrogation methods, which include not only corporal punishment, but also mental torment. With tacit permission and connivance from the higher authority, American troops feared nothing and maltreated prisoners willfully.
Then why did the Pentagon turn a blind eye to these savage acts? One reason is that atrocity like maltreatment of prisoners of war is seemingly a common practice in the history of American army. During the Vietnam War, US soldiers broke into a rural hospital where they killed 64 wounded people and raped and killed more than 70 nurses at a stretch; and the world-shocking My Lai Village massacre has become a symbol of indiscriminate killing by US troops during the Vietnam War. Prisoner abuse in the Guantanamo prison set up after the Afghan war was also frequently revealed by media and criticized and censured by other countries, but the Pentagon's answer is the United States doesn't recognize the detainees as prisoners of war, therefore the country doesn't need to observe the Geneva Convention. Here the United States defines prisoner of war by its own standards.
A deeper reason for US disrespect of others and other countries' dignity is the theory of "America exception". Neo-conservatives believe that since America is unprecedented strong it can transcend over the world and do whatever it wishes. People clearly remember that since Rumsfeld took office in the Pentagon, America has been resolutely against the jurisdiction exercised by the International Criminal Court over American troops stationed overseas, later, through signing bilateral agreements with related countries, it tried to obtain criminal immunity for its soldiers who had committed crimes. Objectively, this doubtlessly made American troops feel their status being special and can thus defy the law when standing on duty overseas. People also remember that how America attacked and oppressed, by citing the Geneva Convention, Al-Jazeera channel for broadcasting the images of American captives. Now the country goes so far as to openly trample on the Convention by abusing prisoners of other countries. This is another example showing that the United States only allows privileges for itself while depriving others of their human rights.
The "America exception" is also an outward manifestation of the "America superiority" theory. The US neo-conservatives, cherishing a little short of fanatic missionary feeling, not only regard themselves as persons chosen by the God, who carry the mission of saving and leading the whole human race, but also are convinced that only the American social system and values are the best, which should therefore be vigorously promoted worldwide. In the eyes of Americans, civilizations and social systems different from those of America are "barbarous", or even "evil", if not "tyrannical", so they don't deserve humane treatment at all. In the words of former US President Reagan: Only the language (force) they understand can be used in having dealings with them.
Currently America's occupation of Iraq is met with tenacious resistance and its so-called "big Mideast democracy plan" is widely boycotted. The prisoner abuse scandal has badly discredited the country and ruthlessly exposed the unjustness of American-style force culture and the emptiness of its sense of superiority. For some American politicians, it's better to give up their arrogance and cowboy style at an earlier date.
(People’s Daily May 17, 2004)