Now I’m as excited as the next guy when a mass murderer living within 200 miles of me is caught. But Rall makes an obvious but under-appreciated point here. As always, he hits it with a sledgehammer, then drops some pianos on it just so we don’t miss it, but it’s still worth considering.
There are dozens of deaths being investigated (or already investigated) in American detention centers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba. Abu Ghraib is full to overflowing. The documented abuse occurred in a situation where soldiers rounded up too many people then used torture to get to people. Remember this?
This is how we’re seen in the world. Bind, torture, kill. That’s why we can’t get action on any human rights issue, and that’s why Bush’s rhetoric about freedom has so little credibility. I hope freedom spreads, and I hope Lebanon and the occupied territories get some autonomy and freedom, and that the Egyptian election works, and that the Iraqi government comes together. But if they do, it isn’t because of Bush. Abu Ghraib destroyed his moral stature in the region he most wants to influence.
Can our reputation recover? Maybe.
Ms. TfK and I were discussing the Kennedy era, and I asked whether America would have been better off standing up for democracy around the world instead of propping up dictators to defend capitalism. How much credibility did we lose by our actions in VietNam, Iran, Guatemala, Chile, …? What if we had created an international election monitoring force to ensure free and fair elections wherever Communism spread? What if we sent in Peace Corps volunteers and used economic ties to American businesses to really improve the economies of these countries? Would they still vote for communists if we stood up for the principle of fair elections, free choice, and self-determination?
I don’t know, and George Bush won’t find out either. Not with people like Alberto Gonzales and Donald Rumsfeld running the show.