Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Of Captain Renault

Reading this,

NYT link

BAGHDAD, Monday, March 5 — Iraqi special forces and British troops stormed the offices of an Iraqi government intelligence agency in the southern city of Basra on Sunday, and British officials said they discovered about 30 prisoners, some showing signs of torture.

...I couldn't help but think of this,

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!

If Captain Renault had been with those Iraqi and British troops that "discovered" the tortured prisoners, he might have made a statement of similar effect. "I'm shocked, shocked to find that torture is going on in here." In fact, such a statement would carry the same credibility as the earlier one. Our ill-considered actions in Iraq have set in motion a series of events that should have been anticipated, at least in part. While torture did not begin with American actions, it seems that a deluge has been unleashed. Had the administration spent even a short time considering likely scenarios, these stories might have been minimized.

And then there's our own misadventures in prisoner motivation, the events at Abu Ghraib. In the wake of these, can we really expect others to take the high road?


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