Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 05.24.04


Electrode Diplomacy

What a bizarre pass we have come to in this country.

I wouldn't have believed you if you had said that our military would be torturing and sexually abusing incarcerated Iraqis.

I know that there was some pretty grisly stuff going on during the Vietnam debacle but the cutting off of ears and the torture in the field seems different from these institutionalized, premeditated atrocities. Now, with the recent videotaped murder of an American in Baghdad we see the results of these heinous pictures from inside Abu Ghraib.

How did these imbeciles not know that bloodshed and revenge would be the results of their actions?

If Osama Bin Laden and his brain trust got together for a fantasy terrorism camp they couldn't have dreamed up a better way to have the Arab world foaming at the mouth and howling for the blood of every American. To show a picture of an American woman dragging a naked Muslim male around by a leash is a dream come true for Islamic extremists.

It means that all their lurid rhetoric about the depraved West is true.

I don't want to hear about the few rotten apples anymore.

This was a calculated attempt to break these people down both physically and mentally before questioning. When Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that the Geneva Convention doesn't apply at Guantanamo he was giving tacit approval to his underlings in Iraq to use whatever is necessary to get answers.

The contempt for the rules of war rolled downhill from his office. It doesn't seem to matter that most of these prisoners in Iraq were just civilians scooped up in raids. Just torture all of them and see what shakes loose.

Remember in 'Nam when the dilemma was whether an individual was an ally, a villager, or a Viet Cong? "Kill em' all and let God sort em' out", was the answer.

It 's the same racist, supremacist attitude that is at work in Abu Ghraib prison.

It is abundantly clear that Bush needs to demand Rumsfeld's resignation. Instead, once again, the White House is going to try and brazenly steamroll common sense and continue to force feed us and the world his insane foreign policy. Rumsfeld doesn't even get a slap on the wrist. His boss gets on TV and tells us all what a stellar job he's doing. We should be proud of the way he is conducting this war.

George, I know you don't read the paper but do you watch television?

The military is torturing and sodomizing prisoners, then videotaping and photographing the acts. A man has been beheaded on TV in retaliation. And we should be proud? Please don't imagine that our sins are not as egregious as theirs. We see pictures of torture and humiliation, what we don't see are the official reports of suspicious deaths of Iraqi citizens in captivity as reported by Major General Antonio Taguba.

How many? Dozens that we know of.

It doesn't take a genius to know what to do. Fire Rumsfeld and level the Abu Ghraib prison would be a good beginning. Turn the entire mess over to the UN and withdraw every single one of our troops is next.

In two wars and ten years of sanctions the US is responsible for a million deaths. Get out of Iraq, completely.

Problem solved? No. Problem ameliorated.

We all laughed when Bush would make his little grammatical errors or mispronounced words. We chuckled when he said one thing and meant another.

It doesn't seem so funny anymore does it?

Bush is way out of his depth and is treading water frantically. He has shown himself incapable of compromise over any issue whatsoever. He and his administration are hidebound idealogues, they present themselves much the same as the Islamic Fundamentalist lunatics that we are supposed to be warring against.

We show the world how we torture and humiliate Arabs and they respond by showing the world what barbarians they can be in retaliation.

We are embroiled in a clash of civilizations. Instead of dispatching the most capable and diplomatic representatives possible we have ponied up single-minded warmongering chicken hawks with blood in their eye and world domination in their vision of the future. The Arab world has done the same.

There is one final solution to our problem in Iraq. It was coined by the Bush administration. It's called "Regime Change."