Monday, May 17, 2004

that was a short remove from politics

apparently my outrage level hasn't been exceeded after all. look at this quote from yahoo:

Powell said he was disappointed the Arab world had not expressed greater outrage over the beheading of U.S. civilian Nick Berg, whose killer has not been found. There was "no excuse for any silence on the part of Arab leaders. I would like to have seen much higher outrage," he said.

While stressing that he did not believe the behavior of U.S. soldiers toward Iraqi prisoners was "in any way" acceptable, Powell said there could be "no comparison" between the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison and the killing of Berg.

What exactly would he have liked to see? I'm confused. Even the Hezbollah went on television saying that the actions of the terrorists were reprehensible. I saw several arab groups on TV. No, I think the only reason Powell is saying this is to somehow minimize the abuse at the prison. He's right, there should be no comparison between the prison abuse and the murder of M. Berg. We should be sending out policemen with soldier support to arrest the criminal who killed him. I very strongly believe that. I do not, however, want all of our soldiers arrested! Their orders came from higher up. The people responsible for those orders should be arrested.

If however what Powell is upset about, is that this outrage is not ongoing, well, there's a reason for that, as Tom Tomorrow notes:
To summarize: the prisoner abuse story continues to dominate the news because it is an ongoing story with many unanswered questions about the actions of our military and our government--questions of direct relevance to our democratic system. And information keeps dribbling out. Congress is given access to unreleased photos, and various politicians hold press conferences--news is generated. Trials are about to commence, the defendants and their attorneys give contradictory statements to the media--more news. See how that works? The Nick Berg story, by contrast, has been covered thoroughly, and we're all horrified by it--but there's just not much more there for the media to report at this point.

(...Frankly, it occurs to me that I saw a lot of footage this week of reporters standing outside the shuttered home of Berg's parents, speculating as to whether or not funeral services had been held yet, discussing the parents' criticism of the US role in their son's death, and any other angle they could come up with, doing their absolute damndest to milk the story for all it's worth. I don't know in what parallel universe it was "ignored", but here on planet Earth it got plenty of attention. And if some new information or new angle on the story comes to light, you can rest assured that it will get plenty more.)

It's obvious that the world wants answers to the questions about Abu Ghraib. But there aren't many questions left about Berg, right now. He was killed. We know who did it. (And here's a question - are there plans to do anything about this? Or will we let al-Zarqawi get away with it, like we did Osama bin Ladin?)

Also, I think it's time to dispel the notion that anyone in our government had a plan for winning the minds and hearts of the Iraqi people. What they expected was to bomb the country, get rid of Saddam, and have the people spontaneously love them. Unfortunately, we:

  • Lied to them about support before the first Gulf War, and
  • killed over 500,000 Iraqi children between the two Gulf Wars, and
  • bombed their country pretty badly in the second Gulf War.

So, therefore, we have to work a little harder. That's logical. What would I have done? I would have had the soldiers each learn basic Arabic so they could speak to the locals. I would have sent them in with orders to befriend the locals, diffuse fears. I probably would have told them to keep their weapons, but try to make them unobtrusive. These people have been tortured by Saddam's secret police and army for years. Any gun is going to make them shy.

I'm sure some of those people would have been terrorists, or US-haters. BUT - i'd much rather see the Iraqi people watching an American soldier defend himself from an attacker, than an angry American with a gun forcing people into line. And it's a MUCH better PR image.

We did some things right, but not enough. We built a couple of schools, but it was WE who built them. They weren't involved. We didn't work as partners. That was our big mistake. We never, ever tried to be their friends. We tried to do something for them, which isn't the same thing. When you do something for someone, they owe you. I don't think the Iraqis wanted a debt, this quickly, not when there was no foreseeable chance of repaying the debt.

Here's the thing. I have no training in politics. But these things are obvious to me. They seem pretty basic. I floated them to other people. Other people agree. So why the hell couldn't our 'leaders' see that? Unless maybe they had some other agenda? Maybe they didn't want us to be friends after all! Sure, this requires we not believe in the good, open hearts of our government leaders. We know they're not completely honest. Why isn't anyone floating the notion that our government never cared about winning the hearts and minds of the iraqi people? Why are we blindly believing what they say, when we know they lie? Hmmm?

And please - don't say I'm blaming America. We were all lied to. We all trusted. It's obviously not America at fault here. It's the liars. And they are trying to convince us to blame each other for all these problems. The left attack the right, the right attack the left, and the fat cats smile from the white house, and because of all this we can't get any real, firm answers....


My friend bree pointed out that Powell himself is a perfect example of the intelligence/hierarchy thing. Powell noted again and again that intelligence didn't support the "war." He knew what we were doing is wrong. But he went ahead with it, because the orders came from his president. Why? Why? Bree called him a sheep. This doesn't satisfy me. I mean, he's a four star fucking general. If anyone's able to resist sheepyness, it should be Powell. But no. He ignored the facts, his conscience, and the rationale of his own intelligence in order to follow the hierarchy. This scares and bothers me.


Anonymous said...

We killed over 500,000 Iraqi children, not Saddam? How did you come to that conclusion?

Anonymous said...

Surdus here - not sure why this comment thing won't work like it used to. What I said was that we...

"...killed over 500,000 Iraqi children between the two Gulf Wars..."

This is old news. Here's a good link to some information about it. The children died directly as a result of trade sanctions and bombing. It was discussed on 60 minutes and is STILL a huge international talking point around the world. I did a google on Madeleine Albright and Iraqi Children (because Albright was one of the most involved people, and there was a huge campaign to try to convince her to work on ways to get food to children, even if we didn't trade with Saddam) and got a long list of more information. I know this is "in the past," and some of you don't like to think about the past. When your kids are dead you can't help thinking about it.

You asked if Saddam could be held responsible. In some ways, yes, in some ways, no. He is responsible for us imposing the trade sanctions. We did have alternatives. Unfortunately in the view of Iraqis they see us as responsible. We have to deal with that, and that's all there is to it, especially if we stand any chance of "winning hearts and minds."