Volume XXXIX – Number Two
Toni L. Britton
Abstract: The United States’ War on Terrorism has been dealt a serious blow in the wake of revelations about prisoner treatment and abuse at two major U.S. facilities. The military detention centers at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib stand at the center of intense controversy and scrutiny after the horrific extent of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers was made public in an episode of CBS’s 60 Minutes II this last March. The images of prisoners being treated inhumanely has sparked massive outcry and debate over the status of these prisoners, as well as the rationale behind seemingly arbitrary arrests in the name of fighting terrorism abroad. But at the center of this scandal is an issue that is being overlooked that has even more potential to damage the War on Terror: the images have damaged the credibility of the United States as a world leader. The United States was not known to be a country that uses enhanced interrogation, or torture, to get information, but these images blow that perception out of the water. Not only does it damage the credibility of the United States in the West, but it also seriously damages the perception of the United States in the Islamic world. Middle Eastern countries already view the United States unfavorably, and these revelations will do nothing to improve that. This article argues that the only way for the United States to save face in the wake of this scandal is to adopt a softer foreign policy approach that aggressively pursues terrorism while simultaneously providing humanitarian aid.
Keywords: Terrorism, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, War on Terror