chapter  10
28 Pages

‘Nasty things happen in war’

In the Preface I locate the events covered in this chapter in my deeply personal experiences of serious injury, illness and recovery. As a critical researcher, it demonstrates to me at least that you don’t have to leave your room to use primary analysis to present alternative accounts. To many that is self-evident, but as an empirical researcher who listens and gathers I needed to be reminded of that . . . perhaps not in such dramatic circumstances. As I digested the speeches and commentaries from the White House and Downing Street while watching war unfold from afar, the relationship between justificatory words and devastating destruction was clearly apparent. I set out to analyse texts and establish intent. In early 2002, when we published Beyond September 11: An Anthology of Dissent (Scraton 2002c), three issues were apparent yet officially ignored or denied. First, that what had been unleashed against Afghanistan would strengthen rather than contain the ‘terrorist threat’ to which it was directed. Second, that Iraq was the main objective, whatever the legality of the war-in-the-making, and international standards would be rewritten or denied. Third, that the unlawful detention of those taken prisoner and forcibly removed to Guantanamo Bay was a visible manifestation of atrocities through torture and rendition committed by proxy in hidden holding centres. In 2005 I was preparing to give a public lecture at Berlin’s Mud Club when news of Abu Ghraib broke. The talk was entitled ‘Impunity of the Powerful’. As individual soldiers were denounced and charged for specific acts, those in power walked free from responsibility for the institutionalised excesses they had unleashed.