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The Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal - Essay Example

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The Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal written by Marianne Szegedy-Maszak presented pertinent issues that aimed to determine the rationale for American soldiers’ grossly inhumane behavior as they allegedly abused and humiliated Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib…
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The Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal
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Download file to see previous pages The author made references to similar instances which apparently happened and documented through the experiment conducted by Philip G. Zimbardo, a psychology professor at Stanford University. Likewise, the reasons for the change in behavior were likewise supported through another set of experiments conducted by Stanley Milgram, which were discussed extensively in the article entitled “Perils of Obedience” published in Harper’s in 1973. Using these resources, the current discourse hereby asserts that the behavior of the American guards could be explained from the findings of experiments espoused by Zimbardo and Milgram. Analysis of the Situation To enable one to effectively respond to the question, there is a need to establish an examination of the situation that led these American soldiers to act viciously. As noted by Szegedy-Maszak (2004), “while many theories have been advanced about the forces that tragically came together at Abu Ghraib--inadequate training, overzealous intelligence gathering, failure of leadership--none can adequately account for the hardening of heart necessary for such sadism” (p. 174). The article written by Jehl and Schmitt (2004) and published in The New York Times provided a more vivid scenario that presented conditions that set the stage for the apparent sadistic behavior. According to the authors, the members of the military police battalion who were sent to Iraq to serve as prison guards were untrained, unprepared, and completely inexperienced in this particular endeavor. Likewise, the Abu Ghraib prison was described as to detain as much as 7,000 prisoners, from an initial capacity of 2,000; which contributed to increasingly chaotic conditions, difficulties in overseeing, and effecively controlling security conditions. It was revealed that “in Abu Ghraib the soldiers suddenly found themselves under attack virtually every night from insurgents outside the prison” (Jehl & Schmitt: A troubled unit, 2004, par. 19). The threat was reported to necessitate the infusion of military intelligence officers. These officers were noted to be the ultimate source of abuse. Factors that Explain the Behavior of American Guards In Zimbardo’s experiments, it was explicitly noted that abuses and atrocities actually ensued from the very power that was accorded to the students, enacting the security guards’ roles. As emphasized, from initially starting as ensuring that “they must maintain ‘law and order’ in this prison, that they were responsible for handling any trouble that might break out, and they were cautioned about the seriousness and potential dangers of the situation they were about to enter” (Zimbardo, 1973, p. 41), the presence of the following factors were actually evident and similar to the Abu Ghraib prison: (1) power to maintain law and order; (2) imminent threats from prisoners or from external sources of chaos that could endanger their lives; (3) the apparent need to conform to the norms of society in terms of responding to the social pressures of the prison environment; and, likewise, (4) the natural response for the application of forms of sadism, to purportedly control prisoners or make them submit to the orders given, with or without justifiable rationales. Using the experiment conducted by Milgram (1973), one could evaluate that the power of obedience was expected to have been ingrained in every individual’s being; and thereby, prison guards who are expected to be followed with regards to orders being directed to prisoners, resort to the authority and powers vested in them, to inflict whatever action is deemed necessary to enable their subjects to react and respond, as directed. As ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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