One might be tempted to formulate that nationhood is to cultural others as manhood is to female others, but that might be too simple. Also simple is the pointer that comes from the images below, which one could summarize as: how not to give an interview to the news media (when you're an officer from a society that frowns upon pornography even while avidly producing and consuming it).
The first photo, taken by Seamus Murphy of Global Post, shows Col. John Agoglia, director of the Counterinsurgency Training Academy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The second photo shows what we are told is Col. John Agoglia's computer screen on his workdesk.
It might make for an interesting study to examine the numerous ways that sex is consumed and exchanged as pornography and how sex is produced as humiliation and torture, especially in the current "war on terror". A very rough sampling reveals some of those diverse modes and meanings:
- A member of the notorious American "kill team" in Afghanistanobtained secret munitions for their dirty work by getting "friendly with guys in the Afghan National Police" and trying "to trade them porn magazines in exchange for rocket-propelled grenades."
- At least 222 detainees in British detention in Iraq were subjected to various forms of torture and abuse, including: "exposure to loud pornography."
- In one among many articles on the subject of Pentagon pornography, "Pentagon declined to investigate hundreds of purchases of child pornography" tells us of "264 Defense employees or contractors who had purchased child pornography online."
- Then there was the arrest of the "kingpin of an alleged Marine porno production ring" at Camp Pendleton.
- We learned of dozens of videos of gay pornography produced by Marines at Camp Pendleton.
- At Abu Ghraib, Iraq, we were told of the existence of at least one photograph showing "an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee." In fact, "further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube. Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts."
- Then there was this testimony from Abu Ghraib: "I saw [name deleted] fucking a kid, his age would be about 15 - 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard the screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn't covered and I saw [name deleted] who was wearing the military uniform putting his dick in the little kid's ass. I couldn't see the face of the kid because his face wasn't in front of the door. And the female soldier was taking pictures. [name deleted], I think he is [deleted] because of his accent, and he was not skinny or short, and he acted like a homosexual (gay). And that was in cell #23 as best as I remember."
- One can also read the "Sworn Statements by Abu Ghraib Detainees" which come with this warning printed by The Washington Post: "Some of the descriptions in these statements may be disturbing because of their sexually explicit or graphic nature."
One can think of many older debates, and many questions to ask here. Some of these are well established, dealing with the links between sex and violence, between conquest and sexual exploitation, and the "feminization" of dominated populations. Others might use this as a point of entry for investigating Marine culture, latent and repressed homosexuality, and the split personality of American mainstream culture when it comes to pornography. Others still might note that if, not a war against Islam, this war surely exploits Islamic values in order to better violate them and traumatize detainees. Some might object that it is normal and natural to gaze at the body, so why spotlight the colonel above? What one could not object to is the fact that in the "war on terror" sex has been a prominent feature, often associated with scandal, with matters better covered up than revealed for discussion.