Letters to the Editor

Feedback: Nation must meet obligations

While reading the May 19 News-Times on line, I was horrified to find two letters trivializing the importance of our poor treatment of prisoners in Iraq. Quotes like “that doesn’t make it wrong; it is simply unpalatable” and “remember this is a prison, not a social club” turned my stomach.

I fail to see how any sane, decent, or intelligent person could think this situation has any justification. These prisoners are human beings and their treatment has clear requirements established by international laws and conventions. Some of these prisoners were terrible men, but that doesn’t matter. There is no evildoer clause that allows us to break our own rules.

As an armed forces member I find the opinions voiced today especially revolting. We live in one of the most moral and humane nations on Earth. If we can’t live up to our obligations towards prisoners in our care then we have no right to complain about the treatment of our comrades in captivity.

Think about our past POWs in Germany, Japan, North Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. Was their treatment wrong or just unpalatable? Were we just being petty when we exposed the world to the poor conditions they endured? Did we decide not to press the issue simply because some of them came home alive one day? You can't have it both ways. If you choose to minimize the importance of our failure you open the door to equal or greater injustices aimed at our men and women in uniform. It frightens me to think of the treatment I might face one day because some of the prisoners we held got better than they gave.

This issue is not about Democrats and Republicans. It is not about pettiness or ratings. This is about doing what is right. It is about following our rules and the international rules we have so often berated other nations for disobeying. Our war in Iraq is now a war of public opinion and with battles like this the outcome doesn't look good. We have done great things in Iraq but the appreciation and goodwill we've earned comes crashing down around us when we do things like this.

Humiliating prisoners by purposefully violating their cultural and religious sensibilities does not turn hearts and minds in our favor. What little respect we still have in the world comes from our fair treatment of others. We cannot afford to lose this respect.

Another letter writer expressed his fear of the difficult future ahead if elections don’t go as he would like. It seems to me that we don’t have to wait for the election for this future to become the present. His vision of a dangerous world is already reality and the occupant of the White House won’t change this much. We can only improve our safety and respect in the world by refocusing on our long history of justice towards all mankind, even those who don’t deserve it.

Travis Kuenzi

Clearfield, Utah

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