Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday, 12 May 2004

Rumsfeld on the treatment of prisoners in Iraq

It seems to me very difficult to sustain the fiction that the appalling acts of barbarity perpetrated by some US personnel represented activities of rogue elements when US Defence Secretary Donal Rumsfeld permits himself to say things such as this:

"Terrorists don't comply with the laws of war. They go around killing innocent civilians."

Of course the murder by beheading of Nicolas Berg is utterly horrific, but we (the US and the UK and the rest of the Coalition) are supposed to be there attempting to put an end to such barbarity, not indulging in official barbarity of our own - even if those his quote seems to be referring to are those captured in Afghanistan. The fact remains that it is patently untrue that the US is complying with the terms of the Geneva Conventions, despite Mr Rumsfeld's contention that the instructions of President Bush to this effect are being observed. It pains me greatly to write this, but Rumsfeld has revealed (to me at least) that his moral compass is seriously damaged and as he is in such a key position in the US Administration it is inescapable that the US must now be regarded as a rogue nation which is effectively out of control. Our own government, and perhaps our own military, have their own questions to answer with regard to treatment of detainees in Iraq, but they seem to be of quite a different order when compared to the moral turpitude into which the US seems to have allowed itself to fall. My apologies to US readers who may be understandably upset by my harsh tone, but I have simply decided that I can no longer pussy-foot around this issue. It is an enormous shame that the undoubtedly large majority of US and UK personnel, both civilian and military, who behave responsibly whilst exercising their authority are in process of having their reputations tarnished by a few who have taken the posturing from far away of people like Rumsfeld rather too literally and will, most likely, be 'hung out to dry' as a result of political expediency in an election year.

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