Friday, October 29, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again

Bruce Cumings's The Korean War again, page 196:
In the aftermath of the Chinese intervention, a staff conference with Generals Ridgway, Almond, and Coulter, and others in attendance, brought up the issue of the [North Korean] "enemy in civilian clothing." Someone at this conference said, "We cannot execute them but they can be shot before they become prisoners." To which General Coulter replied, "We just turn them over to the ROK's [the South Koreans] and they take care of them."
As Fred Kaplan put it more recently, in a bootlicking piece on the latest Wikileaks material at Slate:
Finally, the WikiLeaks documents offer abundant evidence that, while some American guards behaved horrendously toward Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison, Iraqi police and soldiers have behaved much worse.

The documents reveal several instances of U.S. soldiers witnessing Iraqi abuses. In some cases, they tried to stop the abuse, to no avail. In one case, a soldier reported an incident to his superior, who wrote on the report, "No investigation required."

That's a rather selective interpretation, apparently. Glenn Greenwald put it this way:
... a key revelation from these documents: namely, that the U.S. systematically and pursuant to official policy ignored widespread detainee abuse and torture by Iraqi police and military (up to and including murders). In fact, American conduct goes beyond mere indifference into active complicity, as The Guardian today reports that "fresh evidence that US soldiers handed over detainees to a notorious Iraqi torture squad has emerged in army logs published by WikiLeaks."
Similar things happened in Vietnam, too: just turn prisoners over to the locals, and "they take care of them." Though often enough we just preferred to do it ourselves, in both places.

("January 9, 1964: a South Vietnamese soldier uses the end of a dagger to beat a farmer for allegedly supplying government troops with inaccurate information about the movement of Viet Cong guerrillas in a village west of Saigon.")