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Feature Story May 13, 2004
 
Abu Ghraibi Fever
Lynndie: Making Imperialism Fun By John Dolan Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 3
 
It didn't help that our rivals in Empire were the Soviets, who were nearly as anti-fun as we were. The one great exception was the Soviet Army's march through Prussia in 1945. For once, the Russian troops were given raping rights. Less broad-minded than the Romans, they stuck to females. But that was the only restriction they obeyed. Every girl or woman West of the Polish border was destined to experience Soviet victory in very concrete terms.

But as the Cold War deepened, Russian and Americans gave up straightforward conquest and rape in favor of a ridiculous pose, showing up at each Third-World Capital like Jason on Prom Night, with a corsage in one hand and a butcher knife in the other, blubbering, "I'll do anything for you, and if you don't go out with me I'll kill you and your entire family!" Even the most contemptibly weak third-world country got the big courtship routine -- followed by high-altitude bombing raids if it failed to wear America's ring.

Why, by the way, was it always bombing we employed when jilted? Because bombing is not a contact sport. Instead of sending columns of infantry led by crazed, eager, sexually-starved young lieutenants as the British would have done, we sent B-52s crewed by well-adjusted family men who never got within miles of the conquered tribes. Any fun these men had was on the sly, under cover of drunkenness, and on a paying basis with cold-eyed Thai entrepreneuresses. The Cold Warrior was forbidden to enjoy his work at all.

Denied rape, we and our Russian competition compensated by massacre. Calley's men killed hundreds of civilians at My Lai -- but Thank God, they didn't touch any of the bodies in an improper manner. The poor brainwashed bullet hosers probably didn't even think about that, so strict was the prohibition on playing around with one's prisoners. And so the biggest case of sexual frustration in the history of any Empire relieved itself in mass murder and dull commercial transactions between prostitute and draftee, each doing their duty -- no more.

And that was with the Vietnamese, one of the most physically beautiful peoples on the planet. The pickings got much worse after that. The first Gulf War may have been the all-time low in sexual conquest. Not only were the women of the conquered people notoriously unattractive, but the war itself was designed to make absolutely sure no American soldier came anywhere near the vanquished. While hundreds of thousands of GIs sweated it out in desert camps, those reliable family men from the Air Force destroyed the Iraqi Army, one outpost at a time -- then went back to Germany to hug their loving families. Nobody was allowed to get within a mile of an Iraqi woman, even if they'd wanted to. When our troops finally advanced, they were locked into tanks and APCs. The conqueror's ancient perks were forgotten.

When we went back for Gulf War II, things seemed to be looking up at last. Instead of settling it out in the desert, we occupied every town in the country. But there the fun ended. The women weren't allowed out into the street, and American soldiers have never been encouraged to imitate the, er, equal-opportunity rape tastes of their British and Roman ancestors.

Then came Lynndie England, the girl who sacrificed so much to try to show America that Empires should be fun.

This was the first American war where the girls were allowed to play with the boys -- literally, in Lynndie's case! Assigned to "break the will" of Iraqi prisoners, Lynndie and her chunky co-star did what good Imperialists always do: they turned business into pleasure.

If only we Americans studied history more, we'd understand that Lynndie's improvised tableaux, like the "pyramid of naked Iraqis" or the equally classic "aiming gun/thumb at captured Iraqi's balls," come straight out of the Greco-Roman canon, or even further back--from the Assyrians, masters of this sort of fun. Every time the Ancients took a city, they hired sculptors to depict in loving detail the sexual humiliation of the defeated. The losers were inevitably depicted as naked, bound, often lying on the ground to await the attentions of their new masters--just the way Lynndie, that devolved little prodigy, posed them.


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