Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

Putting Abu Ghraib in Perspective

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Editorials & Other Articles Donate to DU
 
Martin Eden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 02:05 AM
Original message
Putting Abu Ghraib in Perspective
This is my 1,000th post, so I wanted to put some effort into it. This is not a typical DU rant; I'm hoping it might find its way to some independent-minded voters who are at the tipping point of dumping Bush.

Putting Abu Ghraib in Perspective

The injury and humiliation inflicted upon Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib is a small fraction of the overall human toll of this war. An estimated 10,000 Iraqi civilians and over 750 U.S. troops have been killed, with several times that many scarred physically and mentally. Though abhorrent and inexcusable, the torture at Abu Ghraib is a minor episode in this saga of human suffering.

But it is a major episode in the war on terror and in Americas relations with Islam. The Bush administration was already losing the battle for hearts and minds, but the images of naked Muslim men being abused by grinning American men and women in uniform have done more to promote militant Islam than any audio tape issued by Osama bin Laden. If terrorism was thwarted by actionable intelligence obtained in Abu Ghraib, it will multiply a hundred times as a result of those incredibly counterproductive interrogations.

The Secretary of Defense and the President would have us believe this debacle resulted from the aberrant behavior of a few bad apples who took it upon themselves to record their activities on 1600 photographs and videotapes. Even if the incidents of abuse do not exceed the number captured on film, it is difficult to believe the military hierarchy was unaware of the situation. It is at best a colossal failure of leadership and command. Donald Rumsfeld has publicly accepted responsibility, but he failed to be responsible when it really mattered and he is not being held accountable by a commander in chief who gives him a ringing endorsement.

It is difficult to apply justice here. It is easy to condemn those who commit barbaric acts, but the individuals facing court martial are ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. They say they were following orders to soften up the prisoners for cooperation in the war against terror. Their superiors were under pressure to get results, and the White House and Pentagon have enormous responsibilities on many fronts. If the crime is viewed as the misinterpretation of orders and a breakdown in command, then it becomes easier to rationalize.

However, the crime of Abu Ghraib must be viewed in a much wider perspective. Most of the victims lie in the future, and the sacrifices made by our troops and their families are likely now in vain. If justice is to be served commensurate with the crime, it is beyond the capacity of Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush to pay the price. And make no mistake; it is they and their cohorts who bear the most guilt. This war and its costs are a product of the Bush administration. They chose to invade a country that neither attacked us nor posed an imminent threat. They made a conscious decision not to apply the Geneva Conventions in the treatment of prisoners, which set the stage for inevitable abuse. They disregarded repeated warnings by the International Red Cross, and in their arrogance failed to consider the potential consequences.

Ultimately we all share responsibility in what has occurred, but especially in what we do next. It is the nature of democracy for the people to be responsible for their government, and it is our obligation to question our leadership and to change it when necessary. The Bush administration insists our purpose in Iraq is to fight terrorism and promote democracy, but their consistent lack of planning and foresight have sabotaged these efforts. At a recent press conference the president could not think of a single mistake he has made. Nor has he seen fit to fire the CIA director who told him weapons of mass destruction were a slam dunk, or the Secretary of Defense who made a mess of Iraq, or the senior White House officials who committed the federal crime of exposing an intelligence operative whose husband had the audacity to tell the truth.

Critics of this administration are often accused of being unpatriotic or of exploiting the nations troubles for partisan purposes. From this perspective, once a president takes our nation to war he is no longer subject to criticism. But from a higher perspective it is the duty of every citizen to utilize critical thought and to hold our leaders accountable, because they act in our name. From a world perspective the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib have implications far beyond the suffering of the prisoners, and to give this administration another four years would send the message that we are not accountable for our government or for ourselves. If it is our intention to promote democracy, we must first exercise it responsibly at home.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Kenneth ken Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 05:34 AM
Response to Original message
1. excellent!
very well written. It doesn't play to emotions, but rather to thought and conscience.

:thumbsup:

you might try sending it to newspapers as a guest column. It's worthy of publishing.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
lojasmo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 08:28 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Agreed. Get this OUT!!
It is very well written. Please send it to as many papers as you are able to.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Martin Eden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 05:30 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Any Suggestions?
I can guarantee you my local paper -- the Chicago Tribune -- would not print it. Also, most newspapers require submissions like this to be exclusive. I was thinking more along the lines of a web site that posts guest commentaries -- one that would be seen by potential swing voters. Any suggestions?

By the way, I decided to touch it up a bit -- no changes substance, but an improvement IMO:

Putting Abu Ghraib in Perspective

The injury and humiliation inflicted upon Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib is a small fraction of the overall human toll of this war. An estimated 10,000 Iraqi civilians and over 750 U.S. troops have been killed, with several times that many scarred physically and mentally. Though abhorrent and inexcusable, the torture at Abu Ghraib is a minor episode in this saga of human suffering.

Unfortunately, it is a major episode in the war on terror and in Americas relations with Islam. The Bush administration was already losing the battle for hearts and minds, and now these images of naked Muslim men being abused by grinning American men and women in uniform will do more to promote militant Islam than any audio tape issued by Osama bin Laden. If the interrogations at Abu Ghraib produced any actionable intelligence, the attacks thusly thwarted will be multiplied as a result of this incredibly counterproductive operation.

The Secretary of Defense and the President would have us believe this debacle resulted from the aberrant behavior of a few bad apples who took it upon themselves to record their activities on a reported 1600 photographs and videotapes. Even if the incidents of abuse do not exceed the number captured on film, it is difficult to believe the military hierarchy was uninvolved and unaware of the situation. It is at best a colossal failure of leadership and command. Donald Rumsfeld has publicly accepted responsibility, but he failed to be responsible when it really mattered and he is not being held accountable by a commander in chief who subsequently gave him a ringing endorsement.

It is difficult for justice to be served here. It is easy to condemn those who commit barbaric acts, but the individuals facing court martial are ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. They claim they were following orders to soften up the prisoners in an effort to prevent more attacks against their fellow GIs. Their superiors were under pressure to get results, and the White House and Pentagon have enormous responsibilities on many fronts. If this crime is viewed as the crossing of an ambiguous line and a breakdown in command, then it becomes easier to chalk it up to the fog of war.

However, Abu Ghraib must be viewed in a much wider perspective. Most of the damage has yet to unfold, while the sacrifices already made by our troops and their families have likely been rendered in vain. If justice is to be served commensurate with this crime, it is beyond the capacity of Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush to pay the price. And make no mistake; it is they and their cohorts who bear the most guilt. This war and its costs are products of the Bush administration. They chose to invade a country that neither attacked us nor posed an imminent threat. They made a conscious decision to reject the Geneva Conventions in the treatment of prisoners, which set the stage for what followed. They disregarded reports of abuse by the International Red Cross, and in their hypocrisy have presided over violations of human rights which they have condemned in others.

All Americans share responsibility in what has occurred, and especially in how we respond. The people of a democracy are responsible for their government, and it is our obligation to question our leadership and to change it when necessary. The Bush administration insists our purpose in Iraq is to fight terrorism and promote democracy, but their consistent lack of planning and foresight have sabotaged these efforts. At a recent press conference the president could not think of a single mistake he has made. Nor has he seen fit to fire the Defense Secretary who has made a mess of Iraq, or the CIA Director who told him weapons of mass destruction were a slam dunk, or the senior White House officials who committed the federal crime of exposing an intelligence operative whose husband had the temerity to tell the truth.

Critics of this administration are often accused of being unpatriotic or of exploiting the nations troubles for partisan purposes. From this perspective, once a president takes our nation to war he is no longer subject to criticism. But from a higher perspective it is the duty of every citizen to engage in critical thought and to hold our leaders accountable, because they act in our name. From a world perspective the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib have implications far beyond the suffering of the prisoners, and to give this administration another four years would send the message that we are not accountable for our government or for ourselves. If it is our intention to promote democracy, we must first exercise it responsibly at home.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
berry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-16-04 08:57 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. I wish I could give you good suggestions about an outlet.
The essay is VERY well done, and is quite ready for print, as is. I think your sig line quotation from Scheer should even stay there at the end. It fits.

I wonder how many others have wished for a place to go for advice about publishing an op-ed in the best (most widely read) place.... But I think maybe a short cover letter, saying briefly who you are and why you felt impelled to write the essay would give it a chance, even at a big newspaper. Even the Chgo Trib maybe. The Madison WI paper (Captital Times?) might welcome it. Or even second-tier city papers like the Houston Chronicle, Hartford Courant, Toledo Blade?

You might get some good advice from Will Pitt, who also started out looking for outlets. Plaid Adder also may have gotten articles published and have some ideas for you. Or even send it to Robert Scheer with a note. He seems nice and I think would respond.

GOOD LUCK!!!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
murielm99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 05:54 AM
Response to Original message
2. Yes!
:dem:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Bob Moss Donating Member (4 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 04:22 PM
Response to Original message
4. Good post
I hope you got at least one person to vote against chimpy.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Fri Aug 01st 2014, 11:41 PM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » Editorials & Other Articles Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC