When the news first came out of Abu Ghraib, due to one of America’s perhaps 5 real journalists (the rest are bought and paid for shills and eunuchs), I said that odds were it came from the top. When the troops were put away and no officers were indicted, I said it was a complete breakdown of military discipline and responsibility. And now, as we know, Taguba is talking about how he was instructed not to investigate anyone but the MP’s.
Let’s be real clear – people were raped and tortured at the behest of America’s government, with the knowledge and approval of the highest members of government. This rot didn’t start at the bottom, it spread from the very very top.
And it was known in 2004, and the US re-elected George Bush anyway.
I’ll never forget that, and until George Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and a number of generals are behind bars, I’ll never entirely forgive it either. There is no greater crime against humanity than torturing someone. There is nothing more despicable than rape. And there is nothing more pathetic than senior officers refusing to accept responsibility for what their soldiers do, especially when there is every evidence they knew.
Abu Ghraib was the grave of America’s soft power; of its reputation as, for all its complicity in other countries unfortunate policies, a basically decent nation that didn’t step over the line. It is when bin Laden’s rants about the US were given weight, and for many Muslims, made true.
It’s when the US became no better than those it fights. Oh, “pre-emptive war”, for which the US hung Nazis, had pushed the US close – war based on lies, on classic big lie propaganda scare mongering no different in nature than anything any fascist or totalitarian dictatorship would use, for all that “reporters” bent over backwards to help the administration spread their lies, had pushed the US close to evil.
But Abu Ghraib sealed the deal in the eyes of the world.
America the Good, the city on the Hill, had become a country that tortured. And then, in 2004, in full knowledge of that torture, the US’s citizens re-elected George Bush.
There’s no fall so far that there can’t be redemption. But redemption in this case means facing up to what happened. And that means, in part, that George Bush and his enablers have to go to jail. Really, they should probably be hung, and hanging is too good for them, but since their crimes were those against all human kindness and decency; against all standards of civilized behaviour, the death penalty is not appropriate. Let them rot in jail.
Until the US does this, until the US cleans house, many in the rest of the world will always believe that it could happen again – that George Bush was not; is not, just an aberration, but he is what America is becoming, that your system of “checks and balances” is so broken, so non-functional, that the country is ripe for demagoguery and totalitarian impulses of the worst and darkest kind.
I hope, as someone who believed in America as a bastion of freedom, for all its flaws; that you do clean house. Failure to do so will not just have moral consequences, it will have realpolitik ones as well.