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