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Saturday, May 21, 2005

A parting shot: PC and silliness reign supreme


Just before leaving I have to add comment about what I think is the silliest bunch of nothing currently being discussed.

While I agree that the United States is and ought to be far more humane in its treatment of prisoners than your average nation of murderous barbarians, the idea that we ought to be held up to the standards of the Geneva Conventions where terrorists are concerned is absurd. The terrorists are outside the bounds of the Conventions for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that they are not the army of a particular nation. Other equally compelling circumstances also strengthen this position.

That the "atrocities" of Abu Grhaib are really serious breaches of human behavior is ridiculous. They are minor infractions deserving our concern and our effort to prevent them from occuring, but they do not deserve more.

Now, this latest tempest in a teapot over
photographs of Saddam Hussein in his undies and in a robe is laughable. Yes, it is a terrible thing to show this ugly thug in his briefs, but only because it offends the eye, not because it causes him any emotional distress.

The United States has no obligation to treat people who were caught trying to kill Americans with any respect or concern whatsoever, except to the extent that by doing so we might get some useful information from them. We owe them only continued existence with the basics: food and shelter.

Period.

I realize some of the more "sensitive" readers will recoil in horror from this statement, and I apologise for shocking your misplaced compassion.

I invite your comments, and we can continue this dialogue when I am again able to post.

9 comments:

Buffalo said...

I'm not sure that I agree, at least not in total.

I agree, the Geneva Convention doesn't apply in this case. Yet I wonder, are they terrorists or patriotic freedom fighters? If it was our country invaded how would the freedom fighters be titled by the invaders?

People in this country murder other citizens. Yet they are accorded certain rights. They are killing Americans.

Should the rules of conduct be suspended simply because Americans are dying? Are our lives somehow more precious than the lives of other nationalities?

James Shott said...

From what I've read and heard, some and perhaps most of the "insurgents" are not Iraqis, but Syrians, Pakistanis, etc. I think it's wrong to call them "freedom fighters," even those who are Iraqis -- Sunni's mostly, who are upset that they are no longer in power -- as the country now has a legitimate government elected by the people. Yes, it's true that some people didn't vote, but that was their choice. The new government isn't perfect; it takes democracy time to set its roots. But each of the three segments of Iraqi society is represented in the new government.

There's a difference in a murder in a society and the killings by terrorists/insurgents in battle. American citizens who commit murderer have certain rights because they are citizens. Syrians, Iraqis, etc., who are doing the killing in Iraq are not American citizens. The prisoners in Gitmo are not American citizens. Most of the deaths now are not Americans, but Iraqis. The Iraqi "insurgents" are killing their fellow citizens of Iraq. The foreign "insurgents" are murdering for money or other enticements.

And, yes, the lives of Americans, and American armed forces, are indeed more precious than the lives of those that are trying to kill them.

JL Pagano said...

Your points are indeed valid provided those in question have all been given a fair trial and it has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt that they are or have been involved with terrorists. None of these people have, not even Saddam Hussein. It is not a matter of political correctness, it is a matter of the very justice that America stands for. I have a feeling a fair public trial may not only find the men guilty but also expose the vagaries of the coalition’s occupation of both Iraq and Afghanistan, and thus it may never happen. The entire situation is one big powder keg waiting to explode and requires fresh clear heads to diffuse it. All I can do is pray that no explosion takes place before President Bush leaves the White House.

James Shott said...

You have to recognize that in America there is a difference between committing crimes and committing war. Criminals according to our Constitution are entitled to a trial. Enemy combatants are not, unless the Geneva Conventions are part of the equation. In this case, the Conventions are not relevant.

Even so, the U.S. goes to inordinate extremes (compared to much of the rest of the world) to treat the enemy fairly, humanely and respectfully. We are held up to unachievable standards in the treatment of prisoners of war, higher than any other nation, and when we fail to achieve perfection, we are crucified around the world. Our efforts at fairness for our enemy sometimes work to our own detriment. Those enemies are not infrequently set free to continue their efforts to kill us.

Whether Saddam Hussein is convicted, or ever comes to trial, there is no doubt that he is guilty of presiding over one of the most brutal regimes in history. Guilty. I will spare you the list of his transgressions. You already know them. The vast majority of enemy combatants held in Cuba and Afghanistan and Iraq are guilty of trying to kill Americans. We do not need a trial to tell us this, and neither do you.

The vagaries to which you allude are … what? Do you imagine the U.S. may have committed atrocities on the scale of Hitler or Hussein? Or on a lesser scale, perhaps? Do you believe that the elections that set those nations on the path to democratic government were rigged, and like so many who don’t objectively think about it, believe that the government of those countries is just a puppet of Washington? If you believe any of that, or anything similar, have you any evidence? Or are you expressing the anti-American sentiment that so senselessly grips so many of the socialists/liberals who dislike America?

Are you, in your last sentence, expressing the idea that Mr. Bush’s successor will do a better job than he?

JL Pagano said...

This is not a war, it is an illegal occupation.

The inmates at G Bay were captured based on evidence that they are terrorists, not because they are members of an enemy army. The public has the right to scrutinize that evidence. I'm not suggesting the prisoners be set free. I'm not suggesting they live in luxury. I'm suggesting that it be proven beyond reasonable doubt that they are who their captors claim they are.

Since America regularly prides itself on justice and democracy, the fact that these captives are not being given public hearings courts speculation, and I was putting forward the notion that perhaps more facts would come out in a trial than they would wish it to.

This issue is not about pro- or anti-American, Mr Shott. America is just as much part of the international community as any other nation, and they have just as much fallability. Millions upon millions of people believe they were wrong to go into Iraq. Labelling them "Lefties", "Treehuggers", "Do-gooders", "Liberals" and such does not do very much to disprove their point IMHO. America does a lot of good in the world; unfortunately this is not part of it.

Do you not find it ironic that everyone who has spoken out against the war has somehow been tainted by supposed scandals? The French? The media? The UN? No doubt soon Amnesty? Can they ALL be totally wrong, and the Bush Admininstration ALL totally right??? That makes no sense to me.

As for President Bush, I am suggesting his presence in the White House is in itself an incitement to America's enemies. The bodies of soldiers keep coming home, the car-bombs continue to go off, the general unease continues.

It is time for fresh faces to sort out the mess, and a mess it is.

James Shott said...

I have to say that the concept of war being either illegal or legal is humorous. I wonder how many wars have been “legal,” as opposed to how many have been justified? But to your point, why don’t we ask the Iraqis whether they want the coalition forces there, okay? Don’t you think they are more authoritative than you on this subject? Would that make it a “legal occupation” in your mind?

The inmates at GB are enemies of the US, or in some cases suspected of being enemies. They are not criminals under our legal system; they are prisoners of our military. They overwhelmingly were not captured in the US. There is no compelling reason for the evidence against them to be made public. They are subject to a completely different system than criminals.

I disagree, Mr. Pagano. This is about being pro- or anti-American. Those who are anti-American tend to see everything in a negative light. This sort would condemn the US, for example, for not doing enough to help the victims of the tsunami, despite the $2 billion in aid we furnished. America is not perfect. But it is far more perfect than those believe who harbor an anti-American sentiment, who are hypercritical of everything America does. My use of labels is not intended to disprove anything, but to identify whom we are talking about. The only term in your list that I used was “liberal,” which denotes a particular political ideology. Both outside and inside the US, liberals tend to be critical of America, especially in Europe and the Middle East.

“Do you not find it ironic that everyone who has spoken out against the war has somehow been tainted by supposed scandals? The French? The media? The UN?” Not at all, for that list. The French appear to be up to their necks in the Oil-for-Food scandal, thus bought off and against the war. The media, both foreign and domestic, is very much anti-American and the US media is embarrassingly unbalanced and biased. The UN is an organization of talkers who accomplish very little, is complicit in a huge scandal with the French and others, and treats the US, its largest supporter, as a second-class citizen. Their motives are not pure. They are not objective. Certainly the Bush administration is no worse than they, and in my view, head and shoulders above those three.

It is not at all surprising that America’s enemies dislike Mr. Bush. Perhaps you feel someone like John Kerry or another weak-kneed Democrat would be a better President. He might make a lot of people happy, but he would not make the world a better place.

JL Pagano said...

Illegality : The US signed up to the UN Security Council as a legally binding body which would sanction military action, yet when it did not conform to her wishes, she went ahead anyway, and now she has a propaganda machine fully up and running to discredit the UN along with anyone else who opposes her. And since Iraq did not attack America (no proof of links to Al Qaeda, no WMD), and American troops are still present in Iraq, then it is an occupation as opposed to a war. Not legally sanctioned + troops present = illegal occupation. Maybe you find that humorous, but I’m sure not laughing.

G Bay Prisoners : Your paragraph about the military somehow having the right to detain prisoners without question is not so much disturbing, it is actually frightening. If that is the case they may as well have gone to the nearest Mosque, rounded everyone up, cast them into G Bay and thrown away the key. It’s a bit too close to Hitler’s methods for my liking.

Tsunami relief : America’s per capita contribution was less than at least 20 other nations, which is a far more relevant statistic than simply quoting the gross figure. Where America could have made a far greater contribution, however, was in hands-on military aid, but wait – methinks their hands were rather tied, weren’t they? America does not deserve a pat on the back for her relief efforts. What she did was the very least she could do.

Anti-American? : Liberals tend to criticise the actions of the American government when they do not agree with them, rather than criticise America in general for the sake of criticism. They recognise the possibility that Americans, just like everyone else, can be wrong. To brandish them as “traitors” or “enemies” and to go to great lengths to tarnish their character demonstrates to me that certain people have something to hide. As they say, attack is the best form of defence. If the BushAdmin has acted purely on moral and just grounds, then why do they proceed to slander those that oppose them? Surely the justifications can stand up for themselves?

John Kerry : I have one plain and simple fact for you – if the troops had been pulled out of Iraq before the presidential campaign, John Kerry would be president. In fact, an even stronger candidate would probably have come forward. Kerry’s hands were tied because he could not be seen to be somehow opposed to the troops themselves, and thus he could not properly attack President Bush on his questionable reasons for taking them in to begin with, a fact Bush was well aware of and was able to exploit to the full. He was only weak-kneed because Bush’s actions made him so. Despite all of this, 49% of Americans wanted him in the White House, or rather they wanted Bush out.

America’s enemies : That last paragraph was starting to get a little inflammatory, I feel. It is not at all surprising that America’s enemies dislike Mr. Bush. Perhaps you feel… Does this mean I am an enemy of America? I hold a US passport. I voted in ’04 (guess who for?). Am I not allowed to express my opinion? I think you will find a certain document known as the Constitution says I can. I am an American, just as much so as you. I just do not believe this fact requires me to ignore my beliefs and accept all that is spewed forth from Washington.

James Howard Shott said...

Illegality: The United Nations cannot morally bind member nations to any agreement so long as it refuses to be bound by its own actions. With no moral authority, the UN Charter is rendered moot. Without getting into the scandals that the UN currently is trying to hide from, the “world body” is a vast wasteland of self-interest and ineptness. Fourteen resolutions against Iraq over a period of more than 10 years, and Saddam Hussein thumbed his nose at each and every one. Left to the UN, Hussein would still be President of Iraq, murdering and torturing his own people, supporting terrorism, and still developing WMD.

G Bay Prisoners: Maybe you ought to reread the history of war and nations. When at war, armies and navies do pretty much as they please. Surely you don’t think the Japanese took their prisoners to Japan and held trials, do you? Or the Russians? That's just not the way war works. After a war is over, war crimes trials are sometimes held, but not always. The US is head and shoulders above many/most nations on Earth in its handling of prisoners of war/enemy combatants. Trying to equate the actions of the US to Hitler is grossly off the mark. That is the sort of criticism America's enemies make.

Tsunami relief: No one, not the UN, nor any nation has a right to tell the US how much money or other aid is required for any disaster. That said, the US routinely gives aid in greater amounts than any other country, and frequently more than all other countries combined. That criticism is one of those nit-picky, petty charges flung about by those who are anti-American.

Anti-American: There are ways to criticize, and there are ways to criticize. Our media and US liberals do so in a way that is not constructive, but accusatory and blameful. They take the same approach as non-American critics, the same approach as its political enemies. They clearly are acting from an anti-American posture. The fact that you agree with their criticism does not improve the character of their criticism.

John Kerry: The only way Kerry would have been elected is if GWB died during the campaign, and I’m not sure that would have done it. He was not popular, even among moderate Democrats. He was a terrible candidate. And, as I said, would have been a terrible President. His disgraceful conduct during the Vietnam War predicted what the older John Kerry would be like. He has no conviction, other than to John Kerry.

America’s enemies: “It is not at all surprising that America’s enemies dislike Mr. Bush. Perhaps you feel someone like John Kerry or another weak-kneed Democrat would be a better President. He might make a lot of people happy, but he would not make the world a better place.” That was my last paragraph, the one you referred to as “a little inflammatory.” I don’t see any inflammatory material in that paragraph. It certainly was not intended to be. In any event, you may believe and say anything you please. You have the right to disagree with me, or Mr. Bush or with anyone else you choose. You have the right to be wrong.

happy-people said...
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