Friday, March 10, 2006

*Someone* in Iraq Understands PR

Reuters is reporting that Iraqi justice minister Abd al-Hussein Shandel has stated that, once Abu Ghraib is returned to Iraqi control, it will no longer be used as a prison.

Symbols matter. Why the U.S. continued to use Abu Ghraib as a prison for so longer after the invasion and occupation--especially when the prison was held up as a symbol of the tyranny of the old regime--I don't understand. I'm sure that there was some bean-counter reason about saving money involved. Did the Allies continue to use Nazi camps as detention centers after World War II? Did the Union use Andersonville as a prison for Confederates after the Civil War? No--in part because you don't want to lose the symbolic value of the name. Auschwitz will always be associated with Nazi tyranny. But Abu Ghraib now refers to the U.S., and the legacy of Saddam's brutality is lessened. (That and the way the trial is being handled.)

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