Hudgins on Iraqi Abuse Scandal

Edward Hudgins, TOC Washington Director, raises an interesting twist on the Iraqi abuse scandal. Writing for TOC’s Media Center, Hudgins asks, Why are we outraged at the abuse?

We react the way we do because we are a civilized country based on certain universal principles of morality and justice: that human beings possess an inherent dignity and autonomy as individuals and should not be subjected to the arbitrary use of force, either by other individuals or by government.

Governments should protect the life, liberty and property of individuals, and thus their powers must be limited and checked lest they become our masters rather than our servants. Even suspected criminals and terrorists should be protected by some form of due process; they are not the playthings for the whims of their guards. If we punish them, it is in order to administer justice, not to satisfy sadistic urges.

Our military violated those principles, but we have a system that allows us to expose and correct such violations—a mark of our system’s political health. And our revulsion at the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison is a mark of the moral health of our culture.

Hudgins then goes on to critize the the values and cultures of most Middle East countries.

Consider attitudes in the Middle East toward arbitrary violence. The Pew Research Center found that of those surveyed in Morocco and Jordan, two moderate Arab countries, 66 percent and 70 percent respectively believe that suicide bombings against Americans in Iraq are justified, and 74 percent and 86 percent believe such bombings by Palestinians against Israelis are acceptable. Consider attitudes in the region toward government. A survey taken last year in Iraq by Zogby International found that 37 percent of respondents thought that the United States would be the best model for a new government. But 28 percent favored Saudi Arabia and the remainder favored Syria, Iran or Egypt. That is, 63 percent favored dictatorships.

President Bush is correct that every individual deserves freedom. He is right that a tolerant and peaceful Iraqi government and culture would be beneficial for the citizens of that country, a model for the region and a bulwark against terrorism. But we must ask a more basic question: Are the people of Iraq and other countries in the region fit for freedom?

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