Thursday, June 22, 2006

Contrition in Europe

I hear how you expressed regret for Guatanamo to those European leaders yesterday, Bush. Said you wished you could close the place down. And I'm sure that's true. It's causing us much grief in the world: we're no longer that shining city on the hill, that beacon of hope--none of those inane platitudes that were once used to describe us.

The trouble with contrition is that it's never quite enough to be sorry. As with much of what you have done with your position of privilege and power, you should never have done it in the first place. The idea of imprisoning people--even "enemy combattants"--without recourse to any kind of justice was a bad one from the start. It flew in the face of centuries of jurisprudence, dating from that famous Magna Carta King John was forced to sign in 1215, the origin of much of the Western tradition of human rights.

In case you might have forgotten your history, my trusty Encarta Encyclopedia notes that "Clause 40 promises, 'To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice.' This clause establishes the principle of equal access to the courts for all citizens without exorbitant fees." Clause 39, Encarta continues, ensured that “No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go or send against him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”

Not sure what "disseised" means, Bush, quite frankly, but in the context I'd say it's not exactly kosher. Anyway, these principles were established nearly eight hundred years ago. They are the seed and keystone of what you like to refer to (often) as democratic freedom. I take some pride in the fact that they were written in my own country of origin.

I wonder if you now also regret the legalistic flouting of the Geneva convention that was justified by your Gonzales (who thought the Geneva convention "quaint") and your Rumsfeld, under whose authority the atrocities of Abu Ghraib took place? The current shameful revelations of war crimes by American military personnel are all too easily dismissed as the work of a few "bad apples". No senior officer has yet been held to account for the actions of his command. Nor has your Rumsfeld.

The tragic fallout this arrogant abrogation of the great traditions of civilized behavior, even in times of war, is that our moral grounds for condemnation of brutal acts on the other side have turned to quicksand. The dreadful story of those two captured American soldiers, tortured before they were mercilessly murdered, is uhappily a case in point. I very much fear that what you and I condemn as an act of "barbarism", Bush, is celebrated with glee by those to whom its message is addressed. My guess is that those disposed to hate us see no difference between the actions that purportedly took place at Haditha and the murder of those solidiers.

I would lay odds that if you could be honest with us--and with yourself--you would regret your invasion of Iraq as much as you regret Guantanamo. The consequences have been dire for the country and for your administration, and threaten to blacken forever the memory of your presidency. But you can't afford to be honest with us, and for that reason I doubt very much that you're able to be honest with yourself. You're condemned to put a brave face on it, to make those meaningless speeches about staying the course and "standing up and standing down", and to brand all those who oppose you as cowards and traitors to their country.

What a sad picture this is, Bush! But sorry doesn't cut it. It doesn't solve Guantanamo, and it doesn't bring our suffering soldiers home.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Also saw the Dark Side, very insightful & worrisome. One can certainly make the case that Bush may have been swept along by these experienced and calculating individuals.

Once again I must take the side of the invaded and oppressed. The USA soldiers were not murdered. They voluntarily traveled thousands of miles with weapons to illegally invade and kill Iraqi citizens. Funny how when our soldiers kill it is justified, even collateral damage is justified, but when our soldiers are killed they are murdered. They were captured and executed for crimes against Iraq is how I see it. What do you think the people of USA would do if someone else invaded USA and some of our brave citizens had the courage to abduct and execute those who invaded and killed their fellow citizens? Tear them apart and make a statement to the other invaders is what they would do and be cheered by their fellow neighbors. These Iraqis have no Jets, tanks or secure zones to hold and protect POW's. The patriotic Iraqis should kill the invaders and move to the next invader, not try and take POW's when they have no protected territory and are dealing with a brutal invader and occupier that has complete air and ground dominance. Iraqis can never give up as they have to live there, eventually USA will go home defeated as almost 100% of occupiers do.

Morality and War cannot be used together. To believe that there are rules to war is a concept that only the strong can demand of the weak. Only the winner says what rules should have been followed and then charges the looser with whatever crimes the winner did not commit to win. The ONLY moral aspect of war is a defender repelling an invader or occupier.

PS. World Refugee Day just passed and as usual our media did not even report that Palestinians are the largest refugee population in the world do to the racist ideology of Israel and essentially sole American support. Also, Iran has actually taken in more refugees then any other country. Just some additional info.

Anonymous said...

Also saw the Dark Side, very insightful & worrisome. One can certainly make the case that Bush may have been swept along by these experienced and calculating individuals.

Once again I must take the side of the invaded and oppressed. The USA soldiers were not murdered. They voluntarily traveled thousands of miles with weapons to illegally invade and kill Iraqi citizens. Funny how when our soldiers kill it is justified, even collateral damage is justified, but when our soldiers are killed they are murdered. They were captured and executed for crimes against Iraq is how I see it. What do you think the people of USA would do if someone else invaded USA and some of our brave citizens had the courage to abduct and execute those who invaded and killed their fellow citizens? Tear them apart and make a statement to the other invaders is what they would do and be cheered by their fellow neighbors. These Iraqis have no Jets, tanks or secure zones to hold and protect POW's. The patriotic Iraqis should kill the invaders and move to the next invader, not try and take POW's when they have no protected territory and are dealing with a brutal invader and occupier that has complete air and ground dominance. Iraqis can never give up as they have to live there, eventually USA will go home defeated as almost 100% of occupiers do.

Morality and War cannot be used together. To believe that there are rules to war is a concept that only the strong can demand of the weak. Only the winner says what rules should have been followed and then charges the looser with whatever crimes the winner did not commit to win. The ONLY moral aspect of war is a defender repelling an invader or occupier.

PS. World Refugee Day just passed and as usual our media did not even report that Palestinians are the largest refugee population in the world do to the racist ideology of Israel and essentially sole American support. Also, Iran has actually taken in more refugees then any other country. Just some additional info.

PK said...

Hi Anonymous, I have permission from Peter to put in a link for you:). Hope you like it... http://mytown.ca/johnkelley/

Dave said...

Peter, on Guantanamo. Note that in a couple of days the federal court should rule on requiring court hearings rather than military tribunals for the detainees. A very small move for democracy, but something. We're predicted to win it. On NPR yesterday I heard a government lawyer claiming that the detainees are POWs and so subject to detention without hearings. Of course, he had trouble with the "War" of POWs since we haven't declared one (escept against "terror"), have no one with whom to arrange a peace treaty, and so can detain the prisoners indefinitely as long as we have troops active in Afghanistan. He kept shifting from "war" to "conflict" and "hostilities" (silly and evasive euphemisms). So, he says, we're OK with the Geneva Convention (especially since water-boarding and snarling dogs are not "really" torture--just interrogation methods)--"methods" being another one of the euphemisms--sounds like business as usual).

Incidentally, I read in the NY Times that European polls now put us ahead of Iran as the greatest threat to world stability. Yea Team, again we're Number One! The mega-rogue nation, that's us. We'll have to turn our national eagle into some griffin-mascot.

PeterAtLarge said...

Dave, Am I wrong in remembering that we "won" once before on Guantanamo in the courts? What happened to that "victory"? Did Bush and gang not weasel out of it in some way? I'm wondering, then, even if we "win" again, what they'll come up with by way of a deflection... Good to know, though, as you point out, that we're still Number One in something--especially after our defeat by Ghana on the soccer field!