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"They wanted to humiliate us. It was disgusting. They covered our heads with plastic bags and hit our backs with sharp objects, which added to our wounds. They then took off all our clothes, made us stand next to the wall and carried out immoral acts that I cannot even talk about. Women soldiers took pictures of naked men and did not care.” – Iraqi former prisoner Hashim Muhsin, speaking to Aljazeera news agency

Military Police Private Lynndie England wears the obscenely grinning face that America now presents to the world. In a profound sense, it is Pvt. England and her comrades who most authentically represent the raw white racism that is the Great Enabler of the current American imperial abomination. Centuries of U.S. history prepared Private England to instantly assume the role of depraved dominatrix at the slave punishment facility called Abu Ghraib Prison. 

“He's getting hard,” shouted the 21-year-old Army reservist from West Virginia, gleefully pointing to the crotch of the naked, hooded prisoner, one of seven selected for a night of Ku Klux Klan-style fun and games. Pvt. England and her six confederates, including another young female, piled the naked men in a pyramid to simulate homosexual orgy. She placed her hand on a prisoner’s buttocks, grinning like a cheerleader as the camera captured an ancient truth: would-be slave masters are the most debased people on Earth.

In the Abu Ghraib pictures we see U.S. soldiers performing a slave master’s ritual, a specific, American kind of grotesquerie. Thoroughly ordinary young men and women pretend to be gods, lording over darker humanity. U.S. culture empowers them to act out their most hideous fantasies at the expense of “lesser” peoples. Lynndie England demanded that Iraqi men surrender their dignity by masturbating for her sick enjoyment. The Iraqi victims knew that the Americans’ pornographic theater could turn into a snuff film at any moment. To the Arab men, Pvt. England and Specialist Megan Ambuhl must have seemed like “Bay Watch” from Hell.

A crisis of depravity

None of the Abu Ghraib prison guards involved in the assaults appear to believe they were doing anything morally repugnant. Rather, they whine that they should have gotten better training, or claim to have been misused by intelligence agents. Their President is whining, too.

“This is not America,” said George Bush on Wednesday, pleading the national case to the Arab world. “America is a country of justice and law and freedom and treating people with respect.”

No, America is a country built on genocide, slavery and insatiable land-piracy, where even the lowest status white person is a king or queen compared to a “hajji” or “gook” or some other variety of “nigger.” This is the cultural well from which springs America’s ceaseless domestic and international wars, the fountainhead of aggression as a national trait.

It is also the national characteristic that renders Americans unfit to “change the world” – Bush’s favorite refrain. The same racism that encourages Americans to believe they have a right to dominate the planet, prevents them from perceiving non-whites as human beings – and brings out the dominatrix in Pvt. England. As Freedom Rider columnist Margaret Kimberley put it in the current issue of : “The abuse of Iraqi prisoners was inevitable. The plan to invade Iraq presupposed that its people are inferior and unworthy of thought or consideration…. They hate us because after we kill and destroy we ask stupid questions as if we were innocent.”

The stupid, destructive President of the United States cannot help but hector Iraqis, even as he attempts to make amends for the “abhorrent abuses” against helpless prisoners. “They [Iraqis] must also understand that what took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know,” said Bush. In fact, it is the Bush “base” of the electorate that are the most virulent, war-worshipping racists. Bush’s America rejects information that does not conform to its core myths of American goodness and U.S. Manifest Destiny.

Now the Americans have been knocked senseless by the photographic boomerang from Abu Ghraib, revealing the psychosexual aspect of the Occupation. U.S. intelligence and psychological warfare techniques are designed to assault the target’s sense of cultural and sexual self – thus “breaking” him. Since the U.S. war in Iraq is in practice a race war, the military’s mission inevitably becomes the total subjugation of one people by the other: the breaking of a nation. Iraqis correctly perceive that Americans intend to defile their nationality and – for the men – their manhood. This aspect of the rape of Iraq is felt even more strongly than the economic pillaging of the country, because it assaults all Iraqi regions, ethnicities and classes.

For example, during last month’s siege of Fallujah U.S. Marines blared rock music at resisting neighborhoods, belittling the fighters’ manhood, daring them to come out to be shot in the open, and featuring derisive, canned laughter at Iraqi “cowardice.” By all accounts the audio bombardment only stiffened Iraqi resolve, and served as a perfect alien cultural backdrop to cement the various Iraqi political and religious factions that had made a stand in Fallujah.

As we wrote on April 10 of last year, the week the Occupation began, “The Pirates play at psychological warfare and succeed in psyching out only themselves.”

Perpetrator is promoted

The Abu Ghraib scandal is yet another psych-out gone awry – a direct result of U.S. intelligence agencies’ attempts to bring Iraq’s prisons into the international American Gulag, the legal no man’s land centered in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The spooks and civilian interrogators encroached relentlessly on the space and authority of the prison’s warden, Army Gen. Janis Karpinski – the basis of her claim to not be culpable for the actions of her soldiers. Three generals in succession were sent to investigate the growing list of outrages at Abu Ghraib. The first investigation was conducted by Provost Marshal Donald Ryder, the Army's chief law-enforcement officer; the second, by Major General Geoffrey Miller, then commander at Guantanamo. As revealed by the third investigator, Major Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, it was Guantanamo commander Miller who set the stage for the current debacle:

The recommendations of MG Miller’s team that the “guard force” be actively engaged in setting the conditions for successful exploitation of the internees would appear to be in conflict with the recommendations of MG Ryder’s Team and AR 190-8 that military police “do not participate in military intelligence supervised interrogation sessions.” 

Thus, it was Gen. Miller’s bid to extend the Guantanamo law-free zone into all of Iraq – a nation that Bush claims to have rescued for democracy and the rule of law! – that created the conditions in which Pvt. England and her fellow soldiers reverted to the barbaric behavior of slave masters, “softening up” Iraqi prisoners for later interrogation by professional people-breakers.

Gen. Miller’s reward was to be named commander of all Iraqi prisons, last month. "I would like to personally apologize to the people of Iraq for a small number of leaders and soldiers who have violated our policies and possibly committed criminal acts," said Miller, himself the culprit in the scandal, whose policy was to systematically remove Iraqi prisoners from the protections of domestic and international law.

In light of Miller’s promotion, Condoleezza Rice’s remarks on Tuesday count for less than a grain of Iraqi sand:

”Those pictures were awful because America – American men and women in uniform, active and reserve, are serving in Iraq at great sacrifice. People are losing their lives. We came there to help to liberate the people of Iraq. We came there to build schools, and to build clinics, and we want very much that the images of Americans should be the images of helping the Iraqi people. It's simply unacceptable that anyone would engage in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. And we will get to the bottom of it. And those who are responsible will be punished.”

Rice and Bush are worried about Abu Ghraib’s effect on their own images with the American electorate. Normally, atrocities against Arabs would not represent a domestic problem for the White House. The American electorate was largely unmoved by the collective punishment of Fallujah, where hundreds of Iraqi noncombatants were slaughtered to avenge the killing of four armed American mercenaries. Potential Bush voters care nothing for the fate of male Iraqi prisoners – but they are gravely concerned about how the war might affect young American soldiers.

The image that terrifies them is that of Pvt. England, smiling moronically as she engages in unspeakable acts. The photos and testimony show England pursuing her unequal relationships with naked male victims as spiritedly as the Marquis de Sade. Americans who would never fret over injustice to Iraqis, agonize: What is Iraq doing to American womanhood?

However, Iraqis, not Americans, will decide the fate of Bush’s imperial expedition. Polls conducted just before the Abu Graib story broke “found that 60 percent of Iraqis now want U.S. troops to go home immediately, even though they acknowledge that their departure might bring further instability,” according to Time Magazine. The Iraqi general public has since become aware of the shame that untold numbers of men have borne in silence – the “immoral acts that I cannot even talk about,” as former prisoner Hashim Muhsin put it. Revulsion will lead to convulsions, further hastening U.S. departure from Iraq.

Pvt. England is reported to be back in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and pregnant. Her smiling, bottomless corruption has surely helped give birth to a mighty rage.



May 6 2004
Issue 89

is published every Thursday.

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