[FoRK] Fwd: Terrorism & Security - 'Six morons who lost the war' (csmonitor)

Joseph S. Barrera III joe at barrera.org
Tue May 4 16:56:52 PDT 2004

I suspect there are a lot more than six morons to blame.

(Watergate started with only five morons...)

- Joe


World > Terrorism & Security
posted May 4, 2004, updated 11:00 a.m.

'Six morons who lost the war'
Reaction to Iraqi prisoner abuse reinforces concerns about deteriorating 
US image abroad.
by Tom Regan | csmonitor.com

Regardless of the outcome of the now multiple investigations into 
prisoner abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, politicians and media 
around the world say the United States' image has suffered a serious 
blow. Sen. Joe Biden (D) of Delaware said on Fox News Sunday that "This 
is the single most significant undermining act that's occurred in a 
decade in that region of the world in terms of our standing."

The Associated Press reports that a senior Bush administration official, 
speaking on condition of anonymity, said the photos (of US soldiers 
abusing Iraqi prisoners) hurt the US efforts to win over an audience 
that is already deeply skeptical of US intentions. Arabs and Muslims, 
the official added, "are certain to seize upon the images as proof that 
the American occupiers are as brutal as ousted President Saddam 
Hussein's government."

Officials at the Defense Department are also said to be "livid," and 
well aware of the damage that has been done by the incident, according 
to NBC News' Pentagon reporter Jim Miklaszewski. Speaking on the Imus in 
the Morning radio/MSNBC program Tuesday , Mr. Miklaszewski said he asked 
a Pentagon contact about the soldiers alleged to be involved, to which 
the Pentagon official replied, "You mean the six morons who lost the war?"

The Chicago Tribune reports that other experts agree with this assessment.

"The United States already had a huge perception problem in the Arab 
world," said Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at 
Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "This is only going to reinforce 
the belief that the United States is anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, whether 
it's true or not."

As the Financial Times noted, even before the incidents at Abu Ghraib, 
opinion polls taken in Iraq and other Muslim and non-Muslim nations 
"indicated an almost global nadir of US credibility and popularity." And 
the Times reports that the US's much hailed public relations campaign in 
the Middle East is "floundering."

The New York Times reported late last week that Margaret Tutwiler, the 
woman who was put in charge of the program to make changes in the US's 
"public diplomacy effort" announced she was leaving the job to take a 
position with the New York Stock Exchange. The Financial Times also 
reports that experts on the Middle East say public relations programs or 
new pro-US TV channels will not change the way people in the Arab world 

"It is not the case that Arabs and Muslims feel antipathy towards the US 
because they are being brainwashed by Al Jazeera or reading 
state-controlled media in Egypt – it's American policy," said Samer 
Shehata, professor of Arab politics at Georgetown University. 
"Regardless of how many radio stations you have that play great music, 
or TV stations like al-Hurra, as long as US policy - whether it be in 
Iraq or Palestine - remains the same you are not going to win hearts and 

Rashid Khalidi, director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia 
University, echoes this view.

"I think the United States is less respected at the end of these 13 
months than it has ever been," he said. "Never has a country with such 
unlimited power been so pitifully unable to affect outcomes. Ruthless, 
murderous terrorists can strike at will in the United States and the US 
can't take Fallujah?"

In the same article, by Agence-France Presse, Robert Leiber, professor 
of government and foreign service at Georgetown University, argues, 
however, in favor of keeping "things in perspective."

"The photographs and, more importantly, the acts themselves are harmful 
to the cause of helping the Iraqis form a stable and democratic 
country," Leiber said, but he noted that such treatment is contrary to 
US policy. "We must keep in mind that, although this has been an ugly 
business, it pales in comparison to what Saddam (Hussein) did to his own 
people over 30 years," he said.

Unfortunately, many others believe that the damage has already been 
done. The allegation of mistreatment of prisoners "makes the US and 
coalition forces a legitimate enemy in the eyes of more Arabs than was 
the case before," said Anthony Cordesman, an expert on Middle East 
security issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Mr. Cordesman, in another interview with Reuters, said the mistreatment 
of Iraqi prisoners also hurts the war on terror. "Those Americans who 
mistreated the prisoners may not have realized it, but they acted in the 
direct interests of Al Qaeda, the insurgents, and the enemies of the US."

"These negative images validate all other negative images and interact 
with them," he [Cordesman] said in a statement, citing "careless US 
rhetoric about Arabs and Islam," failures to stabilize Iraq, continued 
Israeli-Palestinian violence and fears the United States is out to 
dominate the Middle East.

The Miami Herald, in an editorial, writes that the exposure of abuse at 
Abu Gharaib can "seriously damage" the success of US operations, both 
militarily and otherwise, in Iraq.

It is too bad that the response so far, from President Bush's 
perfunctory indignation to General Myers' blaming a few wayward 
soldiers, badly misses the mark. The whole premise of the US invasion of 
Iraq (as currently construed) is to rid the Iraqi people of a brutal 
dictator and create a foothold for democracy in the Middle East. The 
senseless humiliation and abuse of Iraqi prisoners – many of whom were 
civilians and have since been released without charges – is an indelible 
stain on that endeavor.

Yet in the end, The Christian Science Monitor reported Monday, this 
latest incident may not have made all that much difference to many in 
the Arab world because their opinion of the US had already sunk as low 
as it could. That is why, argues Rami Khouri, a Jordanian political 
analyst and editor of Lebanon's Daily Star, the only thing that will 
substantially change the US's image in the Muslim world, is a change of 

"They [the US] have to be more even-handed in the Arab-Israeli issue, be 
less militaristic in addressing regimes they don't like, be more 
consistent in promoting democracy everywhere not only in a few places," 
Khouri says. "They can turn their image around, but only if they turn 
their policies into more consistently fair and reasonable ones."

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