I’ve kept this blog fairly focused on narrow tools and technologies, quite apart from the research and teaching work they enable. I’ve also kept politics out. There’s something to be said for focus.
So, this post is an exception; a political digression, I guess:
A year-and-a-half ago I was teaching an introductory geography course in which we spent a few weeks on issues related to the War on Terror. When the subject of Iraq came up, and my students clearly wanted to know whether I thought the war was a good idea, ethically-supportable, etc., I said something like the following:
I think the notion of invading an impoverished country on the other side of the world based on a vague premise of a “gathering threat” is not only ethically and politically unsupportable and a violation of international law, but is is INSANE! It makes no sense!
So, the Bush Administration – elected by a small minority of U.S. voters (only roughly half actually voted) – went to war anyway against massive opposition, managed to piss off the entire world in the process (including, I might add, many of the people they were claiming to liberate), and then … “the scandal.”
Now, from Seymour Hersh comes an article that claims the abuse of the prisoners was directly related to policy set at the very top of the Pentagon chain-of-command.
Much of my dissertation research involved reading FBI documents related to its regulation of political dissent in the early 1970s. Call me cynical, but despite Pentagon strong claims to the contrary, I will not be surprised if Hersh’s account is later confirmed, just like I wasn’t surprised about the missing WMDs.
But there’s a larger picture here. The issue is not just whether the abuse of prisoners in a single jail in Iraq is legal and ethical and who is responsible, but that it and the entire foreign policy framework in which it sits is in fact undermining the very thing the Bush Administration has been claiming it has been expert at protecting: U.S. security in an era of global markets and global terror.