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I found Michael Schwartz' thoughtful analysis interesting in that it
illustrates that the observed group behavior is a rational consequence
of the dynamic of being an unwelcome occupying army.  It is an example
also of how much behavior in the aggregate is much more determined by
how society is organized and the ideology associated with that
organization than individual decisions or free will.  Thus members of
the social entity, occupying army, become instruments of that army, of
the institutions which it serves and the abstract principles by which
the class that rules rules,. and ultimately therefore, of the material
basis for its rule, which here in USA is corporate capital and its
expansion.  Studying such structures, their interconnections and the
cultures asociated with them being the domain of sociology, I was
surprised at the end of Michael's piece to read: "on their truly
reprehensible origins:[in] the decision by the Bush Administration to
militarily occupy a country despite the general antagonism of the local
population."  I would suggest that were Michael Schwartz to apply his
sociological analysis further he might be able to contribute to finding
the origins in more fundamental social entities and structural aspects
of our society than a decision of the Bush Administration.  There is
substantial evidence that the ruling class is mostly supportive of the
Bush regime and its decisions.  Differences arise primarily on questions
of tactics.  The widely endorsed candidate of the out-of-power
ruling-class party has not yet opposed continued occupation of Iraq and,
in fact, proposes sending in additional troops.  His response to Bush's
(read Karl Rove's) way of dealing with the public disclosures is to
affirm that when he is president he'll be in the loop from the
beginning.  In short, brothers Schwartz, the origins of this mess go
deeper than "a decision of the Bush Administration."
Sociological analysis also concerns culture.  Here Michael I would
appreciate an analysis that looks at the culture of in-country prison
behavior.  Of the six individuals named in the accusations two are
mature, experienced screws from US prisons.  Is it possible that their
behavior in Iraq is a window on behavior in US prisons especially
involving African Americans and Spanish speaking Americans?
herb fox
PS
I am very pleased to see some discussion on this list serve from a
social scientist.  I am one physical scientist who values their
contributions.
hf


joseph schwartz wrote:

> Here is my brother's analysis of the torture in Iraq. I think this
> must be the case - torture by the occupying, unpopular power is inevitable
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Michael Schwartz <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> To: Undisclosed-Recipient:; <mailto:Undisclosed-Recipient:;>
> Sent: Wednesday, May 05, 2004 3:09 AM
> Subject: Why the torture at Abu Ghraib should be no surprise
>
> Here is my take on the torture at Abu Ghraib (also attached)
>
>
> The fundamental verity of the Abu Ghraib scandal  is this: occupying
> powers fighting an insurgency that has the tacit or active support of
> the local population will inevitably resort to torture.
>
> The causal factors are sadly straightforward.  In guerilla war, the
> insurgents fight a battle and then melt into the population.  The
> occupying power therefore cannot identify them by their positions
> behind barricades, by their uniforms, or because they are carrying
> guns.  Only their friends and neighbors know who the insurgents are;
> very often even other units of the guerilla army do not know the
> identity of their comrades who live in other neighborhoods.  If a
> substantial portion of the local population dislikes the guerillas,
> then they will quietly inform on them, allowing their arrest or
> permitting the occupiers to attack their strongholds in a targeted
> way.  But often the local population is willing to protect the
> guerillas, because the communities in which they live contain a
> critical mass of friends and supporters (and those who might be
> willing to inform are therefore afraid of being discovered).
>
> In this circumstance, which is the reality in most parts of Iraq, the
> occupying army has the choice of attacking whole neighborhoods more or
> less indiscriminately (as they started to do in Falluja), or to find a
> way to force people to inform on the insurgents.  Right now, the
> option of indiscriminately attacking neighborhoods is not viable.
>
> It is this situation that leads to torture.  The Coalition knows that
> is has to force people to tell them who the insurgents are and where
> they are hiding.  Once an insurgent or suspected insurgent (or a
> friend or relative of a suspected insurgent) is caught, time is of the
> essence.  If the captive can quickly be made to reveal the whereabouts
> and identity of other guerillas, then an attack can be mounted before
> the insurgents find new hiding places.   But this requires quickly
> applied coercion--and this mean torture.  There is no other way.
>
> However morally opposed the invading army is to the use of torture,
> some individuals will be willing to do horrible things based on the
> logic of war:  if the captive can be forced to talk, then more of the
> enemy is captured or killed while fewer of "our" side are killed or
> wounded.  Even if this involves incredible brutality or heinous
> torture, this logic says that it is better for the enemy to suffer
> than for "our" side to suffer.  So if torture works--even once in a
> while--it will be worth it because it "saves [the] lives [of our
> side]."  Even if some or many innocent people are tortured, that is a
> small price [for the invaders] to pay if they hit the occasional
> jackpot.
>
> So if those in charge of getting information out of prisoners are
> placed under pressure to get valuable information before it is
> useless, they will "discover" torture, even if they are not told to
> use it.  The question becomes whether their superior officers will
> tell them that it is not "worth it".  And this is unlikely, because
> the superior officers are there to win the war, and this is a
> crucial--often essential--tool when fighting a guerilla army that is
> protected by the local population.
>
> We should therefore not be surprised that the higher officers looked
> the other way and permitted the torture to go on indefinitely: the
> torture was serving their purpose.  In fact, according to Seymour
> Hersh in The New Yorker, the chief torturer, Staff Sergeant Ivan L.
> Frederick II reported the approval of his superiors, who told him that
> he was doing a "'Great job", they were now getting positive results
> and information."
>
> But we should also heed what else Frederick said: that they were
> instructed by superior officers to commit these specific acts.  This
> demonstrates that the superior officers had already embraced the logic
> of their situation:  they knew that in order to fight an unpopular war
> against insurgents with the support of the local population, torture
> would have to be a part of their normal strategic arsenal.
>
> Those of us who find these acts reprehensible should focus our
> attention on their truly reprehensible origins: the decision by the
> Bush Administration to militarily occupy a country despite the general
> antagonism of the local population.
>
>
> MS
> Department of Sociology
> University at Stony Brook
> Stony Brook NY 11794
> Phone: 631 632-7700
> Cell Phone: 516 356-4078
> Fax 631 331-6120
>
>
> ---
>
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