Scott Tibbs
blog post
May 13th, 2004

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The prisoner abuse scandal has a good article today about the beheading of American civilian Nick Berg.

The world was shocked by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American and British troops in Abu Ghraib. The torture was rightly denounced. What was done to those prisoners was inexcusable, in direct violation not only of the values America seeks to project worldwide, but a violation of international law.

But the differences in the reaction to this and the reaction to the Berg murder are significant. President Bush apologized for the abuse and said those responsible will be punished. Congress is holding hearings on how this abuse was allowed to go on. The criminals at Abu Ghraib are the object of disdain from all points of the American ideological spectrum.

Compare that to the beheading of Mr. Berg. Islamist terrorists said the killing of an innocent was justified by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. While America is shocked by our troops crimes, Islamists revel in theirs.

The beheading of Mr. Berg can't be seen as a "reaction" to the publicity surrounding the Abu Ghraib debacle. Not after Islamist radicals kidnapped Japanese civilians and threatened to burn them alive, and not after Islamists murdered American contractors and desecrated their corpses on worldwide television.

This tactic isn't new for terrorists. Who can forget the naked bodies of murdered American troops (who were there to feed starving Somalis) being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu?

This does not mean America is innocent. As both Rebecca Hagelin and the Family Research Council have pointed out, these acts also raise questions about the kind of culture these soldiers grew up in.

But the United States liberated Iraq from a terrible dictator and is working to build a new government based on individual liberty. We have put our own troops at risk to avoid killing civilians while Islamists hide behind civilians. The United States is the country that put our troops' lives at risk in humanitarian missions in Somalia, Haiti and the former Yugoslavia. While the prisoner abuse scandal is indeed horrifying, let's not lose sight of the fact that we easily hold the moral high ground in this conflict.