The events in the Middle East seemed to more accurately reflect the Middle Ages, not the 21st century. The death of Nick Berg is the reason why not only the Americans at the Abu Ghraib prison did what they did, but also why the United States needs to finish the job in Iraq, not just run in June because it’s the first chance to escape.
What happened in Abu Ghraib is a direct result of what American soldiers deal with in Iraq regularly; they deal with an enemy that has no concern for the lives of innocent people. To protect themselves they will willingly fire from crowds of protestors or hide in mosques, and Americans have to put themselves in danger to root out the combatant from a crowd of innocent people.
When you are forced to deal with enemies like this, people with no respect for life or decency, it’s not hard to treat people you suspect as enemies in a cruel manner. After all, if they have no sense of honor in murdering and butchering Americans, why should they receive any courtesy from their captors? If the roles were reversed then it’s obvious the concept of respectable treatment would not be considered, as was the case with the five who were killed and mutilated in Fallujah. Although I am trying to understand why they did what they did, I do not, nor have I ever, supported the tortures of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib. What they did was still wrong and they should be tried and punished for their actions.
This and the continuing bloodshed in Iraq and can make people wonder why we are there. And then something like the horrific murder of Nick Berg comes along and explains why not only the guards did what they did but why we need to stay put. These criminals are our enemies in Iraq; they are not freedom fighters going against occupation, but terrorists for the creation of a tyrannical theocratic state in Iraq. These people who see the torture and murder of Americans as something to strive for and will kill anyone, American or Iraqi, who would prevent them from their goal. We spent a lot of money and blood to remove one government stained in blood. Would we walk away and let another take its place? While the Iraqi government is growing in power and responsibility, the country is too weak and fragile and its enemies too numerous to simply hand over power in a month and walk away.
It doesn’t matter if you supported the war or were one of its most ardent opponents; the point is that we went to war and now we need to make sure we leave Iraq in good condition. We must learn from our mistakes and punish those who broke the law like at Abu Ghraib to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, but we must also strive to give Iraq stability and peace. To run away is an insult to those who died to free Iraq and to the very principles America symbolizes. If our nation does not want to endure the title of coward, of a nation that doesn’t finish what it starts, then we must do our job and give Iraqis a stable, peaceful republic.
Loren Casuto is a third-year political science major.