Violence at Abu Ghraib Essay

Submitted By Yanniv1
Words: 1478
Pages: 6

At Abu Ghraib, the goal for the American Soldiers was to make the prisoners feel powerless. The hundreds of photos taken of all the horrific tortures constitute evidence of abuse by the military. Unspeakable acts of cruelty were committed in the prison. The torturers believed that if you torture a man enough, he will tell you what you want. Even more shocking was when the prison wardens posed with the prisoners just for the sake of the picture. There is one picture where they are posing behind a pyramid of naked Iraqi prisoners, giving the "thumbs up" sign. The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib led two soldiers; the soldiers that we see posing with the prisoners making them do horrible things, Charles Graner and Lynndie England, sentenced to prison. In this essay I will demonstrate in more detail the violence used by the military and I will show how these acts are related to the theories of situationism, authority structure, entrapment and objectivity. Additionally, I will explain how the terms deindividuation, dehumanization and the evil of inactivity justify the violence committed.
To begin, I will give my own definition of situationism, and provide an example. The theory of situatitionism implies that the human behavior is not just a function of personality but also a function of the situation. I think that our behavior is not based on our personality, whether we are a nice or cold person. Our behavior reacts according to the context we find ourselves in. The situational context has dramatic weight. People are more influenced by external factors than by internal traits. For example, a man would react differently if he were put into a prison then if he is put into a home. At Abu Ghraib, the guards were American and the prisoners were Iraqis. The guards hated being there because the prisoners seemed to them as a foreign enemy. The guards were also in an Iraqi war prison and when they got there, they thought that the use of violence was fine. When CID asked specialist Jeremy why didn’t he report all the miserable things he witnessed, he said that he felt it was morally wrong but “when in war things change”. All those external conditions are functions of how the guards acted later on.
Secondly, the authority structure played a big role in the violent acts committed by the US military. As defined, people are naturally inclined to listen to someone in authority because we assume they know better and because we believe they will take responsibility for our actions. For example: a father and his child, a teacher with her student or a doctor with his patient. We were brought up in a world where we’ve developed a tendency to obey to anyone who has a higher social status. The guards at Abu Ghraib were following orders from a high-ranked military police officer. When asked about the tortures and abuse, the response would be “we are only following orders”. The torturing was more a crime of obedience. Taking explicit instructions from authorities to engage in acts of torture is clearly performed in response to orders. The torturers themselves are held responsible for damage caused even if they are obeying orders from a superior. The specialist Megan talked about how the guards were given orders, and needed to obey them. Whether it was to keep a prisoner awake, interrogate him etc. Before making the prisoners strip and make them to a pyramid, specialist Jeremy was asking the guard why is he doing this. He responded that he was doing “what he was told”. Some of the guards engaged in these actions with a greater will and enjoyment but the goal was only to gain information from prisoners presumed to be guilty. Entrapment refers to how people can be led to fulfill ridiculous requests if you get them to commit in small steps. For example, the guards started with torture, but ended with more severe crimes such as the murder of one prisoner. Specialist Military Police Jeremy Sivits was with Sergeant Fred and Jeremy proposed to bring down