Prisoners of War: Vulnerable

The photograph of prisoners with alleged Taliban and Al Qaeda links in orange overalls crouching before Marine Corps guards is destined to become a symbol of US counter strategy in the ‘war’ on terrorism.

The World Today
3 minute READ

John Mackinlay

Opinion formers across the media, from law to lifestyle, have defended and attacked the procedures.

For the armed forces this is not just an academic matter of legal and moral correctness: it is crucial to how the rest of the world sees the event. Guantanamo Bay has altered perceptions of the US and its military action and, by implication, those who are with them. A serious crack has appeared across our glacial face of moral superiority.

Service officers find it hard to imagine being captured themselves. In vulnerable situations they remain sane by creating an illusory womb of security which protects them from the erosive pressure of constant anxiety. But from time to time the bubble is pierced by the intrusions of real life. It is healthy for us all to be reminded that British pilots, special forces, peacekeepers and even defence training staff have recently been captured.

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