American soldiers do not know for what reasons they are fighting in Iraq.
Anti-imperialists all over the world were excited about the scandal with tortures in American prisons: here is the real face of American capitalism! I was excited also, but for another reason: I saw the proof for the idea that the rabble of society join the “professional” Army in developed countries (Russia can be related to these countries as well). And this problem is not about the nature of capitalism or the methods of recruiting soldiers to the Army.
Book “Fall of Berlin. 1945” by English historian Anthony Bivor faced much criticism in Russia because it described the conduct of Soviet Army soldiers in Germany (as robberies and rapes on a large scale). Red Army veterans later told the stories of this kind with no embarrassment. The English historian writes that Soviet soldiers took revenge on Germans for their far worse conduct in the occupied territory of the Soviet Union, and in fact, Hitler and his circle is to blame for German people suffering.
Mr. Bivor describes the robberies made by British and Americans in the West. According to him, they robbed liberated French and Belgians on a large scale. There were less rapes on the Western front than on the Eastern front, but mainly because Americans and British had more possibilities to buy love (for money, food, cigarettes) than their Soviet allies.
The problem is that at war many armed people gain power over many civilians. For this reason, crimes at war are inevitable. It is impossible to eradicate war crimes as long as wars exist. Wars will always exist. The pacifist outlook of European civilization will result only in the death of the European civilization. Americans behave as people at war usually do (they are at war and are facing enemies) and are as bad as the majority of their critics.
Nevertheless, the incidents in Iraqi prisons are even bigger defeat for the USA than the retreat from Falluja. The current campaign of the USA in Iraq is the first war in history when the attacker announced establishing democracy in the invaded country as one of the war primary purposes. This was not just an announcement, Americans really wanted to do this. Even if having in mind access to Iraqi oil and using the area as one more strategic base in the Middle East as the main purposes, establishing democratic Iraq was a prerequisite for success of the USA. Russians are used to blaming Americans of hyper-cynicism and underestimate the fanatic idealism of Americans. Establishing democracy all over the world is becoming the super-idea for the USA as establishing Communism was for the Soviet Union. As Moscow did, Washington believes that this purpose can be achieved by any means because mankind looks forward to have democracy brought by Americans (as Soviet people thought that all other nations look forward to have Communism). In the summer of 1941 not only Russian Army soldiers and officers, but also the leaders of the USSR were surprised to see that German soldiers (workers and peasants) did not come over to the Red Army’s side. Today Americans are asking themselves in surprise: why didn’t Arabs run to build democracy? Our sad history demonstrated that Communism cannot be build by force. Freedom cannot be brought by force either. In Iraq, strong contradiction aroused between the intentions of the USA and the means of achieving them, and the tortures of the prisoners became the most vivid example of this contradiction.
The countries of the Anti-Hitler Coalition were fighting World War II for the sake democracy (each of the countries had its own idea of “democracy”). The main purpose was announced and it actually was destroying the regimes of the pro-Hitler countries engaged in the aggression. The intentions and means coincided, and the war became sacred (despite the above mentioned war crimes of the allies). For this very reason, later the democracy was restored in the liberated countries and established in the defeated states.
In Vietnam the contradiction between the purposes and targets resulted in the defeat of the USA, along with the use of the Vietnam war for election purposes. Incompatibility of war and democracy was demonstrated, but this was not well understood by the American society. For this reason, today Americans have the unsolvable problem in Iraq, and there is no way out of the situation as the intentions and the means of achieving them contradict each other. Americans are already speaking about retreat. Probably, the experience of Vietnam says that in case of losing, retreat should follow as soon as possible. However, the consequences of this retreat for mankind will be absolutely different than the ones in Vietnam.