Alle Menschen werden Brüder
A commonality struck my eye this morning as I was reading through a New York Times story on the “dark soap opera” of the ongoing Texas-Abu Ghraib court proceedings (3/10/05). This repetition that caught my attention centered on the motivation behind two of the defendants’ reasons for joining the U.S. military in the first place.
“Private Graner, 36, a Pennsylvania prison guard and a former marine, had rejoined the
military in a burst of patriotism after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”
“Ms. Ambuhl had already been on college study trips to Kenya and the Galapagos Islands.
She had worked as a technician in a medical laboratory in Virginia, where she grew up,
and like Private Graner, signed up to defend the nation after Sept. 11.”
What is this “patriotism,” this will to “defend the nation” that these two shared, I wondered. Patriotism is not the easiest thing to define. Standard definition: love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it.
Do the actions of these and others, at Abu Ghraib, the Guantanamo prison camp, and other locations both available to and hidden from the public eye, meet the two most basic qualifications: love of country, and placing the needs of others above one’s self-interest? What is the essence of this situation, this war, that finds itself reflected in the actions of its agents?