Monday, March 14, 2005

Before the election, Abu Aardvark reminded us all what it was about: he posted one of the Abu Ghraib torture shots (not one of the worst), and said:

Vote for this or against it.

It really isn't that complicated.

I haven't posted much on torture, because I don't have the heart for it. The last time was I think I had much to say about it was in February, when Jane Mayer's article on "extraordinary rendition" revealed that we were kidnapping guys out of Bosnia and shipping them to Guantanmo. (Some apparently feel that it's a bigger deal that we're also kidnapping people out of Italy, without the cooperation of the Italian government. Sadly, they may be right).

Well, on the off chance that I'm your only lefty blog, Jeanne D'arc has a review of the other stuff you're missing, in the middle of a long meditation on the stark fact that, presented with Abu Aardvark's choice, "vote for this or against it", an apparent majority of Americans voted for it. (I know even Bush-ophile Christopher Hitchens has his doubts about the totals. Spare me. It shouldn't be close).

After the election, Jeanne tried to rationalize it by saying that maybe they voted on other issues. And lately, faced with the continuing flood of stories (again, see her piece, I haven't got the heart for it), she's starting to doubt that.

Me, I think it's plausible. Because it's easy enough to just avoid this news if you don't want to hear it. Most people haven't got the heart -- not unless broadcast news (the only kind that really matters) were reminding them on at least a weekly, if not a daily basis. And the reporters -- they don't have the heart either.

Meanwhile, those interested in my post from last week about the Army's indoctrination of new recruits might want to read this article about their home movies (via King of Zembla). As to the type of war they wind up fighting, Juan Cole's post on the aftermath in Fallujah might be a useful gut check. Three out of four water purification plants are destroyed; the fourth is badly damaged. And then there's the damage to housing, from which Cole quotes an AFSC report: "It is estimated that 40 percent of the buildings were completely destroyed, 20 percent had major damage, and 40 percent had significant damage." Add up the numbers.

Again, for reasons I explained in my first post, I'm not completely sure that the Army is wrong to train troops like this. But if you build a force for absolutely savage warfare -- and make no mistake, that's what we have -- it's immoral and just plain crazy to try to use it to keep the peace.


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