Sunday, May 02, 2004

You Say "Po-tay-toe", I Say . . .

Kevin Drum is spot on here.

You know, as crass as it sounds, when it comes to things like war and the assessing the implications of, for instance, torturing the enemy, our concern should not simply be humanistic (though, that it should be as well!); nor is it an end-all rationale for either pulling all soldiers out of Iraq or dismissing the Arab press wholesale as disseminators of anti-Americanism. *sigh* War, this war in particular, is surely one of truth and justice (to be sure), and it is to be fought with force . . . but also, and this is something that is damn frustrating, considering how (ahem!) 'good' America is at propagandizing its own people, public relations. It is a lesson, to some extent, 'the evil doers' have learned rather well (see here).

Now, is America so pitifully bad at public relations because it is a superpower, and because people tend to pull for the populist challenger? Maybe. Or, and this is my thought, is there is also something more inherent to the American moral compass that blinds us to the perspective of others? I'm currently working on a paper dealing with the latter (well, not specifically, but it is close enough in scope). Ideally, I'll have something intelligent to say about it sometime this week. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Incidentally, re: all this talk of abuse and such, Seymour Hersh's latest article in the New Yorker, wherein he investigates how far up the blame goes -- and with what regularity prisoners were abused -- is a definite must-read.

UPDATE2: Oh, and yes, it's sometimes easy to miss the forest for all these torturous trees. The Medium Lobster points us in the right direction:

** The activities that occurred at Abu Ghuraib prison are not to be compared to those of Saddam Hussein's rape rooms and torture chambers. After all, those were rape rooms and torture chambers. These were merely rooms in which rape occurred, and chambers in which individuals were tortured.

** In war, atrocities will happen, as dew on the grass in the morning, or flower blossoms in the spring. The dew gathers. The buds open. The atrocities bloom. It is all according to the mysterious, ever-unfolding cycle of life - a cycle too vast and complex for mere mortals to comprehend.

** These were isolated incidents, and the behavior of these prison guards should in no way reflect upon the military superiors who endorsed and promoted such behavior. This is because atrocities are supervenient on subordinates, but not on command structures. Those with greater learning will understand.

Got that? Good. Now, can we please go back to talking about John Kerry's medals (or were they ribbons!?!) and whether or not American Idol is crap . . . er I mean racist? Let it never be said that America doesn't know an important news story when it sees one.