May 02, 2004

The the signs that go before...

Posted by Curt at 06:48 PM in Politics | TrackBack

So by now everybody has had a chance to get worked into a lather about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American interrogators. No matter how one feels about the issue, I have to wonder about the timing of the story breaking, because apparently the evidence of this has existed for at least a month or more, and yet it breaks just this week, somewhat obscuring two other stories which in my opinion are a lot more relevant to people’s worries about the creeeping growth of police-state tactics: firstly the news that last year, for the first time, secret intelligence court-issued surveillance warrants outnumbered regular criminal court-issued surveillance warrants and that now, sure enough, with the blessing of the U.S. military, one of Saddam’s old generals is now in command of Fallujah.

The fact is, no military operation, especially one conducted under guerrilla warfare conditions, is ever going to proceed without some abuses of this sort by soldiers. And if it turns out that less than 20 prisoners were abused overall in the course of the war, it will probably be the cleanest operation in history. I don’t say that to excuse matters, simply to put their significance in perspective. On the other hand, the fact that the shadow judicial system is now starting to have a significant impact despite initial indications that it might not actually have much to do is certainly enough to give one pause, as is the seeming concession in the air at the moment that order is not going to be restored in some quarters of Iraq without having recourse to the services of Saddam’s old henchmen. The torture case is going to have a horrible effect on America’s image in the Arab world and is probably going to dispel some of the current good-will in this country towards the soldiers in the military, but it is not going to have any direct reprecussions for the civilian leadership—there will probably be summary justice for a few low-ranking scapegoats, and that will be that. But the other two stories I think show a certain emptiness at the heart of the principles of engagement in both the judicial and military wings of the current anti-terrorism push.

Comments

Curt: The torture case is going to have a horrible effect on America’s image in the Arab world.

What makes you say that?

Torture cases only seemed to improve Saddam Hussein’s image in the Arab world.

Posted by: The Serpent at May 3, 2004 12:26 PM

It may surprise you to learn that a lot of Arabs didn't like Saddam Hussein very much.

Posted by: shonk at May 3, 2004 02:19 PM

"Torture cases only seemed to improve Saddam Hussein’s image in the Arab world."

I would say, quite to the contrary, that Saddam's brutality had made him by the end one of the least popular rulers in the Arab world and, in fact, the sheer rapacity of his torture-tactics is probably almost entirely responsible for the small amount of goodwill that currently exists towards the U.S. in Iraq at the moment.

Posted by: Curt at May 3, 2004 05:37 PM

Jesus Christ!

I've seen college hazing rituals that were far worse.

This entire non-issue is really about Liberal desperation.

Posted by: The Serpent at May 5, 2004 10:22 AM

I'm not sure if you are referring to Saddam's use of torture or the American soldiers', but if you mean Saddam's, I'm a little dubious about your point. I don't know of too many college hazing rituals that involve hundreds of thousands of people being massacred and thrown into mass graves, but perhaps it is just because we went to different colleges.

Posted by: Curt at May 5, 2004 02:41 PM

Second point: I actually agree with you that the abuses by the American soldiers seem pretty mild by the standards of any war, and in that sense all the current outrage seems pretty damn naďve. However, regardless of whether torture made Saddam more popular or not, you would have to be a fool to believe that torture of Iraqis by American soldiers, whether or not it's any more severe than "college hazing rituals" or not, is going to make the U.S. occupation any more popular there. In that regard, the issue is not at all about "Liberal desperation," but rather about Arab rebelliousness. Set aside the moral and factual angles for a moment, and just consider the situation from a purely pragmatic standpoint: regardless of the merits of what the soldiers did or intended to do, they might as well have dug their own graves by doing it. Is that something that you would consider a very wise action?

Posted by: Curt at May 5, 2004 03:04 PM

Curt: Second point: I actually agree with you that the abuses by the American soldiers seem pretty mild by the standards of any war, and in that sense all the current outrage seems pretty damn naďve.

Like I said, they seem pretty mild by the standards of college fraternity hazings.

Curt: However, regardless of whether torture made Saddam more popular or not, you would have to be a fool to believe that torture of Iraqis by American soldiers, whether or not it’s any more severe than “college hazing rituals” or not, is going to make the U.S. occupation any more popular there.

My point was that we aren’t there to be “popular” we are there to hurt people.

Curt: In that regard, the issue is not at all about “Liberal desperation,” but rather about Arab rebelliousness. Set aside the moral and factual angles for a moment, and just consider the situation from a purely pragmatic standpoint: regardless of the merits of what the soldiers did or intended to do, they might as well have dug their own graves by doing it. Is that something that you would consider a very wise action?

I don’t have any problem with it at all. Unfortunately not everyone sees it the same way I do.

Were the soldiers unwise? … foolish? DEFINITELY, they were foolish for taking the pictures. They were foolish for getting caught. They should have known what the word-manglers would do if they found out.

The word-manglers (i.e. those desperate Liberals) love when they get an opportunity to apply their absurd double standard (Hypocrisy). Those soldiers handed them such an opportunity on a silver platter.

Posted by: The Serpent at May 5, 2004 04:41 PM

"Were the soldiers unwise? … foolish? DEFINITELY, they were foolish for taking the pictures. They were foolish for getting caught. They should have known what the word-manglers would do if they found out."

For somebody that claims to believe in the universality and transparency of information, you don't seem to have very much faith in the truth emerging at the end of it all.

Posted by: Curt at May 5, 2004 06:44 PM

My point was that we aren’t there to be “popular” we are there to hurt people.

Well, that's a surprisingly honest response. Of course, I doubt that you, personally, are "there" at all.

Posted by: shonk at May 5, 2004 08:40 PM

More importantly, I don't think any of us individually know what "we" are "there" for, I doubt even "they," the decision-makers, do. The effect may well be hurting a lot of people, but in that case I wonder why one would dismiss all that injury as unimportant, unless one feels that violence itself is fairly trivial and unimportant.

Posted by: Curt at May 5, 2004 11:08 PM

Curt: For somebody that claims to believe in the universality and transparency of information, you don’t seem to have very much faith in the truth emerging at the end of it all.

You can’t hand the truth to those who seek to destroy it.

They’ll just use the truth against you.

Did you ever go see “Kill Bill”?

Why do you think Pai Mei didn’t teach Bill the “5 point palm of death technique”? Why didn’t he teach it to Elle (Daryl Hannah)?

He didn’t teach it to either of those nitwits because he knew the first thing they would do with it was use it to annihilate Pai Mei himself.

Posted by: The Serpent at May 6, 2004 11:36 AM