Posted by: on May 10, 2004 | No Comments

Ugh. Instapundit. Yeah, I know, I shouldn’t torture myself.

Today he’s channeling this drivel from Mudville Gazette, which sent me over the edge.

Seymour Hersh has had an amazing story dropped into his lap. A group of American GIs, caught on camera, abusing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners. Heinous acts. The wheels of justice were certainly turning, but nailing the abusive guards is not enough for the intrepid reporter. Indeed, since evidence indicates that one of those guard’s attorneys most likely provided that information to Hersh, it follows that getting the higher ups was likely part of the deal. . . .

Hersh has embarked on a televised disinformation campaign, recently appearing on the “O’Reilly Factor” in an effort to sow additional confusion in a public already stunned into incomprehension by the graphic photos he helped make famous worldwide.

The campaign relies on two main points, neither of which is completely factual: 1) the Army did nothing, and 2) it’s the superior’s fault, not the troops. Point one is a lie. Point two is true, but there’s a level where it becomes ludicrous. Given that point one is a lie, that level is low.

In essence, this is attempt to indirectly call Hersh a liar, while not actually attacking his “largely factual” article since that could be easily debunked. This goes way beyond the pale, and, of course, is not backed up by any evidence except, apparently, an interview with Bill O’Reilly. Good God.

So, supposed lie #1: the Army did nothing. Didn’t Hersh base the entire article on General Taguba’s report? Is Hersh denying this? I just don’t get this at all. It is clear, however, the administration made little (if any) attempt to correct the situation. Who gives a shit if 3 investigations were done, nothing was done to stop the abuse. Is it acceptable to take months and months to investigate continuing abuse and possibly murder? This did not happen in the past! As far as I can tell, this is still going on, and while some military personnel have been removed, contractors have apparently received no requests from the administration to remove their personnel which were also involved. At the very least we know this was still happening while the investigations were underway.

And, yes, there was at least some action on the part of the armed forces: General Myers requested that CBS delay the Abu Ghraib story by two weeks, presumably because it could color the debate about whether we could detain and strip all rights from the “enemy combatants” in Gitmo, which went in front of the Supreme Court on April 21st.

Alleged lie #2 Hersh is spreading is, “it’s the superior’s fault.” Is not the entire military based upon a chain of command? Did not Rumsfeld himself take responsibility for this saying it happened on his watch?

He goes on to agree with another wingnut who compares this to the Ramparts scandal in the LAPD, “which turned out to be rather less than initially thought.”

Then, in the next post, we have this: “It’s a scandal, to be dealt with. The people who want to make it the whole war are misguided, at best.”

So Glenn thinks (a) it’s “rather less” than we think, and (b) it just needs to be dealt with. This attitude is being spewed from all corners of the rightwing nutosphere.

The fallacy in comparing this to Ramparts is obvious. Ramparts was a local issue, by Los Angelians for Los Angelians. Story after story offer a buffet of sources which claim rampant abuse, including accounts from the Red Cross and even reports from the enlisted themselves who reported this to their superiors in vein. Despite who may or may not get hung for this, we know more data is coming. This attempt to downplay the gravity of the situation before we even see the second round of evidence is disingenuous.

But more short-sighted is the inability to see this: In Iraq, we invaded a country, presumably to liberate them and sow the seeds of democracy. (Well, at least that’s the reason now, since the mushroom clouds didn’t materialize. And never mind that some simple homework would tell you that Iraqi citizens would never vote for a democracy.) We are foreigners. We forcibly took over their country. This continuing belief that we can run roughshod over whatever the fuck we want to and then think it’s okay because we’re Americans and we know better, and they should be kissing our feet, is The. Most. Naive. Thing. Ever. We need to win the hearts & minds, not assume it’s a freebie because we’re the great geopolitical Jesus. [insert Vietnam comparison here.]

Whether we like it or not, the average Arab conversation about this “war” will now be framed in those pictures. (Unless we do something worse.) This is a PR disaster so monumental it’s likely we’ve blown any chance of getting that hearts & minds thing.

Some of the inability to see the obvious may be because of the utter lack of focus on the victims. There’s some basic lip-service: “Troubled.” “Horrible.” “Upsetting.” But that’s it. Sure, they’re not explicitly written off as a bunch of uncooperative sandniggers who deserved it, but it’s all there in the undercurrent. We know that 6 GIs were “involved.” So we talk about “only 6” and how it was “isolated,” yet no mention of the Iraqis themselves. They’re merely props. Naked human being props hooked up to batteries through their genitals.

So, IMHO, we’ve lost the war abroad. Not militarily, but ideologically. The two are not mutually exclusive. GAME OVER.

I hate to give Karl Rove tips, but I think there could be one situation where this could really turn against us on the left here at home: if any of the accused Americans are tried in Iraqi courts. Hypothetically, they could be sentenced to death which may or may not be an appropriate sentence, but that wouldn’t matter. First of all, it is improbable any trials could be completed before the November election. But an Iraqi court merely seeking the death penalty would cause the fickle American public to rally behind Shrub; perhaps creating a November landslide. Sure, this scenario is rife with hypocrisy, but that never bothered the voting public before. And after what W did to McCain in SC in 2000, I certainly wouldn’t place this out of the realm of possibility.