Friday, May 07, 2004

Reaction of Professor Philip Zimbardo (Stanford Prison Experiment) to torture in Iraq. Excerpts:


"In the current situation, we must not allow the politicians and pentagon to dismiss the seriousness of what happened with the usual dispositional analysis of a few bad apples in a good barrel. Bush said it should not reflect on the good nature of all Americans or our military.

Wrong. The situational analysis says the barrel of war is filled with vinegar that will transform good cucumbers into sour pickles and will always do it to make the majority of good people, men and women, into perpetrators of evil, where there is:
anonymity-deindividuation, dehumanization, secrecy, diffusion of responsibility, social modeling, big power differentials, frustration, feelings of revenge,obedience to authority, lack of supervision that conveys a sense of permissiveness.

...

The ubiquitous causal force in all this is the Evil of War, and the cover story of "National Security," and now the exaggerated fears of terrorism that have been induced by ten "credible" terror alarms is transforming our nation into a culture of victims and our soldiers into brutal abusers of other human beings.

This one incident of waton, repeated, dehumanized abuse of innocent Iraqi civilian detainees will haunt the objectives of the Bush administration of bringing any semblance of US- style democracy to the Middle East -- it will now not happen. It is not Americans at our worst, it is human nature succumbing to the power of evil situational forces. The horror is that our soldiers should never have been put in
harm's way to be killed, maimed, and now to have to function in situations that enabled them to behave in ways that are a perversion of the perfection of our humanity. The rush to this pre-emptive war was based on lies, false assumptions and political and economic objectives that had nothing to do with WMD, terrorism, or enhancing our national security.

WAR IS INDEED HELL, AND THIS AGGRESSIVE, NEEDLESS WAR IS HELL ON EARTH THAT WILL HAVE LONG-LASTING NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES AT HOME AND ABROAD. ONE SLIM HOPE IS SOME IMPROVEMENT AFTER THE NOV. ELECTIONS IF THE CURRENT WAR-MONGERING ADMINISTRATION IS DEFEATED. BUT THE CURRENT NATIONAL INERTIA IS AMAZING TO ME, ESPECIALLY AMONG OUR PASSIVE
UNCONCERNED STUDENTS."