5.31.2005

war on terror meets never-never land

Bob Herbert writes:
State Department officials know better than anyone that the image of the United States has deteriorated around the world. The U.S. is now widely viewed as a brutal, bullying nation that countenances torture and operates hideous prison camps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in other parts of the world - camps where inmates have been horribly abused, gruesomely humiliated and even killed.

The huge and bitter protests of Muslims against the United States last week were touched off by reports that the Koran had been handled disrespectfully by interrogators at Guantanamo. But the anger and rage among Muslims and others had been building for a long time, fueled by indisputable evidence of the atrocious treatment of detainees, terror suspects, wounded prisoners and completely innocent civilians in America's so-called war against terror.

Amnesty International noted last week in its annual report on human rights around the world that more than 500 detainees continue to be held "without charge or trial" at Guantanamo. Locking people up without explaining why, and without giving them a chance to prove their innocence, seems a peculiar way to advance the cause of freedom in the world.

It's now known that many of the individuals swept up and confined at Guantanamo and elsewhere were innocent. The administration says it has evidence it could use to prove the guilt of detainees currently at Guantanamo, but much of the evidence is secret and therefore cannot be revealed.
Herbert notes that the administration tries for a little window dressing:
This is where the war on terror meets Never-Never Land.

President Bush's close confidante, Karen Hughes, has been chosen to lead a high-profile State Department effort to repair America's image. The Bush crowd apparently thinks this is a perception problem, as opposed to a potentially catastrophic crisis that will not be eased without substantive policy changes.

This is much more than an image problem. The very idea of what it means to be American is at stake. . . .

In much of the world, the image of the U.S. under Mr. Bush has morphed from an idealized champion of liberty to a heavily armed thug in camouflage fatigues. America is increasingly being seen as a dangerously arrogant military power that is due for a comeuppance. It will take a lot more than Karen Hughes to turn that around.
It's a good, concise summary of just how bad it's gotten, and who let it get this way. (Full column here.)

More background on how the US "thumbs its nose" at human rights here:
In coordinated broadsides from London and Washington, Amnesty International accused the Bush administration on Wednesday of condoning "atrocious" human rights violations, thereby diminishing its moral authority and setting a global example encouraging abuse by other nations.

In a string of accusations introducing the organization's annual report in London, Irene Khan, Amnesty's secretary general, listed the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the so-called rendition of prisoners to countries known to practice torture as evidence that the United States "thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights."
New York Times story here, Amnesty's 2005 Report begins here.

What do you want to bet some anonymous wingnut reminds me that other countries are worse? As if that's the point.

18 comments:

Superhappyjen said...

I'm reminded of a quote from Captain Kirk (an American, played by a Canadian actor)"Death. Destruction. Disease. Horror. That's what war is all about. That's what makes it a thing to be avoided."

So Bush went to war, what did he expect?

L-girl said...

William Shatner is Canadian??? I can't believe I didn't know that!

But Kirk wasn't American. By the time of the Starfleet and the Federation, Earth no longe had nations. He just happens to be a blue-eyed white man with an Anglo-Saxon name! (Yeah, right.)

RobfromAlberta said...

William Shatner is Canadian??? I can't believe I didn't know that!

Absolutely, he's from Montreal. He even attended my alma mater, McGill University. The student union building is unofficially called the "William Shatner Building".

RobfromAlberta said...

By the way, James Doohan is Canadian, too.

L-girl said...

Aye Cap'n, I knew about James Doohan.

I can't believe I didn't know that about William Shatner. Then again, I may have once known it, but the factoid became lost in the recesses of my unreliable brain.

I have a long mental list of famous Canadians. Now I'll be sure to put Shatner on it.

RobfromAlberta said...

You are well on your way to being one of us once you start to prattle on about famous people who were Canadian once. It's our second favourite pastime after hockey.

G said...

Should make that a jeopardy question or something.

Q: White, Angelo-Saxon, Blue-Eyed Starship Captain named Kirk hails from this country.

A: Canada

PS Alex Trebeck is also Canadian.

Doh! Now I've got Will Ferrel's great portrayal on SNL in my head! And Daryl Hammond as Sean Connery!

"I'll take The Rapishts for $500, Trebeck."

"That's therapists, Mr. Connery. Therapists."

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Well, according to Cheney, the abuses never happened because America is virtuous:

"Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment," acknowledges the veep. "But if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who had been inside and released to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated."

"For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050530/ap_on_go_pr_wh/cheney_guantanamo_1

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

And of couse Pravda...er..Fox News is out defending the administration:

"Amnesty International declares war on the USA. That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo".

In a shocking display of belligerence, the human rights organization is accusing the USA of committing illegal acts and is actually threatening American leaders...."

"...So it's clear A.I. opposes the U.S. War on Terror, in effect taking the side of the terrorists."

Oh, and of course the best part:

" Amnesty International isn't an objective human rights group. It's a far left outfit that sympathizes with people who kill Americans. That's what it is. The evidence is irrefutable.

Talking Points" doesn't object to dissent in the War on Terror, but we do object to dishonesty in defining the issue."

L-girl said...

Hey, I'm prattling in Canadian!

"PS Alex Trebeck is also Canadian."

Don't I know it. Every Jeopardy-playing American knows that.

"I'll take The Rapishts for $500, Trebeck."

Hee hee.

L-girl said...

Oh yes, the US is so honest no one needs to investigate. The free press... blah blah blah... lies, lies lies...

While I'm at it, great Scottie/Helen Thomas exchange there, too.

RobfromAlberta said...

I've been a monthly donor to AI for about 5 years, so I receive their quarterly newsletter. I can honestly say during that whole time, the US has only been cited once and that is in the most recent newsletter which I got a few weeks ago. To suggest that Amnesty International has declared some sort of vendetta on the US is completely absurd. Of course, the mainstream media doesn't report it when AI condemns Peru or Myanmar or Egypt for human rights violations, so the public perception is that the US is being singled out.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

It's enough for the brownshirts like Mr. "You are a disgusting vile traitor and have stabbed your country in the back! Our glorious armies who defend freedom across the world are shedding blood for the defense of the American homeland." to go on an anti-Amnesty campaign.

Heck, they were ready to boycott Star Wars because it's obviously leftist propoganda.

L-girl said...

To suggest that Amnesty International has declared some sort of vendetta on the US is completely absurd.

Very true.

Of course, the mainstream media doesn't report it when AI condemns Peru or Myanmar or Egypt for human rights violations, so the public perception is that the US is being singled out.

And most Americans are only vaguely aware of the non-US world. Unless the US is bombing them, of course.

On a related note, on our 24-hour NYC news station, they have a brief segment called "The World Beyond New York". It's the NY-equivalent of Jon Stewart's "International Pamphlet". ;-)

RobfromAlberta said...

On a lighter note, Natalie Glebova of Toronto is the new Miss Universe 2005. Miss Glebova is only the second Canadian to win the Miss Universe contest. So kudos to Miss Glebova for being the most beautiful and talented woman in the whole universe.

L-girl said...

You know Ms Universe ain't getting no blog post from me!

RobfromAlberta said...

Yeah, I figured. But hey, she did promise to use her newly-acquired superpowers to raise AIDS awareness.

L-girl said...

Oh well then...!

But hey, I should be more generous. Everyone should get what she/he really wants. I just wish women would want a little more for themselves...