Sunday, April 08, 2007
How has the US military attempted to address the problem? The article provides the humorous answer:
U.S.-run detention camps in Iraq have become a breeding ground for extremists where Islamic militants recruit and train supporters, and use violence against perceived foes, say former inmates and Iraqi officials.
Extremists conducted regular indoctrination lectures, and in some cases destroyed televisions supplied by the Americans for use with educational videos, banned listening to music on radios, forbade smoking and stoked tensions between Sunni and Shiite detainees, they said.
Iraqis swept up in security operations and held indefinitely while the Americans try to determine whether they have any links to the insurgency are susceptible to the extremists' message, former detainees said.
Their accounts of life in Camp Cropper, the main U.S. detention center at the Baghdad airport, indicate that three years after the abuse scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison, the U.S. is still struggling to find a balance in the way it runs its detention system.
Prisons have long served as an incubator for radicals, and mass roundups by the U.S. military after the 2003 invasion are now blamed for antagonizing Iraq's Sunni Arab population and feeding the insurgency.
A year ago, the U.S. military instituted a rehabilitation program that consisted of educating detainees about Iraq's new political process, Sultan, the Human Rights ministry liaison, said. However, counter-terrorism experts say that the U.S. military needs to take a far more comprehensive approach.
"Simple classes … aren't sufficient. It has to be part of a broader, comprehensive program," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University. De-Nazification efforts in post-World War II Germany involved more than a civics class.
"Our failure to pursue such programs is indicative of the low priority we have always inexplicably given to acquiring detailed psychological, demographic and cultural intelligence from the detainees in Iraq," Hoffman said. "All that is valued by us is hard tactical intelligence — when there is a wealth of other information that we can obtain that in the long run could be decisive strategically."
So far, Sultan said, radicals have sabotaged the U.S. program of civics and literacy classes.
"It's very difficult when you have a one-hour class, and you spend the next 23 hours with the imam," he said.
The hidden pearl here is the comparison to de-nazification: De-Nazification efforts in post-World War II Germany involved more than a civics class.
Yet again, we have a subtle, but clear attempt to analogize Iraqi Baathism to Nazism, an acceptance of the puerile good versus evil mentality that has pervaded the purported war on terror and the invasion and occupation of Iraq since their inception.
Significantly, however, the horrors of Nazism did not require the banishment of many of its most socially prominent adherents. Indeed, de-nazification did involve more than a civics class, it emphasized the reentry of politically, economically and technically skilled Nazis back into German society, shorn of public knowledge of their notorious pasts, so that the US could fight a Cold War against the Soviets in a fractured Germany.
In other words, de-nazification never happened, unless one is enamoured of the Orwellian use of the English language. The anger of the postwar generation of German youth over the discovery of this policy was a major incitement of social unrest in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as an inspiration for the great German filmmakers of that era and beyond, such as Straub, Fassbinder, Reitz, Schlorndorf and others.
And, hence, we should not be surprised to hear the neoconservative chorus now singing, in unison, that the discharge of the Baathist Iraqi army in the summer of 2003 was one of the most grave errors of the Occupation Authority. And, similarly, the increasing acceptability of ex-Baathists to the US, such as Allawi, for example, echoes the illusory de-nazification of the late 1940s.
Finally, the article reveals the self-sustainability of military neoliberalism. Private security contractors and prison construction have become enduring profit centers in the evolving neoliberal order. Hence, it requires a perpetual stream of people to surveil, arrest and incarcerate. Accordingly, we should not be surprised to discover that, rather than effectively deterring crime and violence, the system of US detention facilities in Iraq actually serves to facilitate it.