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United States’ Military Takes Some Hits

I grew up believing, and I still believe, that the United States’ military is a fine organization comprised of principled, justice-minded, conscientious professionals. Our service members have displayed bravery and morality for generations, and have willingly sacrificed and died on our soil and abroad in the name of freedom and justice. Our military institution and its soldiers have never been perfect, but overwhelming evidence suggests that this venerable body has acted appropriately and well in the conflicts that we have chosen to initiate and in the conflicts that our country was drawn into.

Despite my strong, positive feelings for our military and its brave personnel, I became somewhat disillusioned over the last few years when I heard, read and saw stories about prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and at overseas extradition sites. I still get chills when I hear the Star-Spangled Banner, and I made a point to learn its words early in my life. I plan to teach it to my 3-year-old daughter soon. This short, emotional ballad optimistically captures the military’s spirit of courage, sacrifice, and success in the quest of freedom.

Therefore, it is not easy for me to voice this criticism and skepticism regarding our military personnel’s morality and judgment. I want to believe that our soldiers are moral and fair, but these incidents of abuse, perhaps even torture, struck and staggered my faith in our military. I’m neither squeamish nor unrealistic about our enemies and their motives; fanatical terrorists have killed many innocent Americans and many innocent citizens of other countries, and they undoubtedly will continue to target innocents until they are brought to justice.

I continue to strongly believe that the war on terror is a just war that must be fought stridently, and it must be won by our military and our allies. But, I did feel twinges of nausea when I saw the ghastly pictures of hooded and naked Abu Ghraib prisoners. Some of our military personnel in those pictures seemed to genuinely enjoy inflicting harsh treatment, including electrical shocks, on these helpless, cowering human beings. Their laughs and wide smiles repulsed me, and for a moment, I felt sorry for the detainees. In my gut, I cannot abide by such harsh, inhumane techniques.

These detainees are not creatures, and they must be treated within reasonable boundaries of morality. “Enhanced techniques” were used on some prisoners, and in my mind, the ends did not justify the means. For example, a Guantanamo prisoner named Qahtani “was subjected to forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, prolonged stress positions, sleep deprivation and other controversial interrogation techniques” (Zagorin, 2006). This supposed “20th hijacker” deserved stringent questioning, but I feel that our government and our military overstepped their bounds.

In the same article, Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights asserts that “the utter and complete failure of U. S. authorities to take any action to investigate high-level involvement in the torture program could not be clearer. ” In closing, I do regrettably believe that our military engaged in torture. These reprehensible actions are inconsistent with our military’s history, and are in incongruent with the principles contained in the national anthem that I love and revere. References Zagorin, A. (2006, November 10). Charges sought against Rumsfeld over prison abuse. time. com.

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