Just Above Sunset
May 2, 2004 - It is all a matter of having the right attitude...
How things are going depends on how you look at things, as it is all a matter of having the right attitude...
Alternate Title: Tinkerbell’s Timex – Clap or she DIES!
Steve Antler posts this comment. It sums up a lot of what on hears these days:
Persistent media and Democratic war opposition have finally brought forth poll results showing near-Vietnam-levels of opposition to the war in Iraq.
Yes, there is something
in the air that takes one back to the heady days of 1968 and the slow rumble of gathering discomfort with the war at hand. Then it was Vietnam.
How much confidence do you have in George W. Bush's
ability to make the right decisions about the ongoing conflict in Iraq -- a lot, some, not much, or none at all?
Things are not going well
for the current administration, at least in terms of how folks judge them in these months before the next election.
Other than Ted Kennedy's "quagmire" remark, I'd honestly have to contend that the main reason
public opinion on the war is declining is because the situation on the ground is deteriorating. The old defense/counterargument to the realities of the Iraq war went something like this: "Sure, they
blew up a hotel, but at least there was a hotel there to blow up! And there are
25% more hotels now than there were when Saddam was in power!"
As you recall, at the end
of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, children are urged to clap to signify their belief in fairies and to bring the expiring
Tinkerbell to life. They have to clap – or Tinkerbell DIES! It always works (using the term “works” quite loosely) in the play (and in the movie oddly
enough) – but I always wondered what would happen if, in some theater somewhere, just to see what happens, the kids
all decided not to clap. Dead silence, if you’ll pardon the pun. Would the actor or actress playing Tinkerbell then have to improvise a death scene? What if the kids all just sat on their hands, as a kind of thought-experiment, a kind
of existential dramatic trap for the cast? How would the other characters cobble
together an alternative ending? That really would be interesting.
Last night [April 28, 2004] CBS' 60 Minutes Two aired allegations -supported by numerous photographs
and witnesses - that document numerous cases of torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners inside Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Phillip Raines, a writer and musician from Atlanta whose work often appears in these pages adds this:
Too bad about the torture. Must have been some lingering vibe in the room, maybe an evil spirit that infected the interrogator with madness. Same kind of thing hit Lt. Calley (sp) in Nam, even though he was a boy scout, but maybe he led snipe hunts as kid. Hard to say really. Certain bars are known for bar fights. I don't even want to play in them. As conquerors in Baghdad there might be the illusion that we can get away with it, what with all the power and weapons backing up our might. And soldiers with floods of testosterone being released from calisthenics and fight and flight neurohormones rinsing through them. Enough to make someone lose themselves. It should have been expected if we went there. I think it's made things worse. Makes me feel like a clairvoyant. So why don't I feel smug? Naw, just a little sad. Can we go home now?
This weekend Seymour Hersh has a piece in the New Yorker that says we’ve been investigating all this since January. He got his hands on the Army documents, a report that our Army has been working on for some time.
As the international furor grew, senior military officers, and President Bush, insisted that the actions of a few did not reflect the conduct of the military as a whole.
Taguba’s report, however, amounts to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing and the failure of Army leadership at the highest levels. The picture he draws of Abu Ghraib is one in which Army regulations and the Geneva conventions were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to Army military-intelligence units and civilian contract employees. Interrogating prisoners and getting intelligence, including by intimidation and torture, was the priority.
It’s not like we didn’t know.
But the pictures finally go out. And how do the defenders of the administration deal with that. They are not saying much, except for this from Jonah Goldberg over at William F. Buckley’s National Review:
Whoever leaked these pictures to the press was not doing anybody any favors. Since the case was already being handled, the release of these pictures did more harm than good. I don't blame 60 Minutes for running them - though I don't applaud them either. But a person would/could be morally obligated to leak these pictures if the army was covering it up or refusing to investigate. It doesn't sound like that was the case. So releasing the photos isn't prodding the government to do the right thing, it's encouraging millions of Arabs to hate us. That's not whistle-blowing, that's sabotage.
You see, Phillip, you shouldn’t know we had a problem and were actually working on it. The dreaded “Arabs” might find out.
Oh yeah, one minor detail here - as a British newspaper adds a detail the domestic press and CBS disregarded, or just missed:
A military report into the Abu Ghraib case - parts of which were made available to the Guardian
- makes it clear that private contractors were supervising interrogations in the prison, which was notorious for torture and
executions under Saddam Hussein.
You see, we are not really
responsible for all this nasty stuff. Sometimes when you outsource labor-intensive
work, well, the subcontractor you engage screws up – disappointing, but this is not something we actually did, not something
for which our government employees (our armed forces) can really be held responsible.
This simply calls for changing to another subcontractor. (For a discussion
of privatization and mercenaries see April 25, 2004 - Two friends from France comment on privatization and mercenaries... from last weekend’s Just Above Sunset.)
"This is a new era," said Hamid al-Kafaei, the spokesman for the Iraqi Governing Council yesterday. "We cannot continue with Saddam's flag."
Hey, it was a surprise! Everyone likes surprises, don’t they?
…Dhurgham, a 23-year-old student, said: We cheered Iraqi footballers under that flag for
a long time. I feel it represents me as an Iraqi.
I don't like this new flag. It does not look Iraqi. It is more like the Turkish or Israeli flags. The main reason
I don't like it is that it comes from the Americans.
Bad attitudes here, of
Although the CPA's claims that the new design is from a contest winner, the designer himself revealed
that he was unaware of any contest.
In public comments last month, Perle suggested that installing Chalabi in power in Baghdad would alleviate any Muslim fears of U.S. imperialist aims. It would also improve the chances for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Perle said, because "Chalabi and his people have confirmed that they want a real peace process, and that they would recognize the state of Israel."
Ah. Get it? The Iraqi’s will get a democracy, but they had
better elect Chalabi to run the place, and recognize Israel. Otherwise, there’ll
be hell to pay.
The U.S. military is demanding the return of five howitzers that two Sierra Nevada ski resorts
use to prevent avalanches, saying it needs the guns for the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Desperate time require desperate measures? Clap harder, if only to prevent avalanches.
Footnote on Tinkerbell and her Timex:
A few weeks ago the Los Angeles Philharmonic did the odd Ninth Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich, conducted by the visiting David Zinman - someone I actually know and who wrote a tune for my jazz group back in the seventies. Zinman back then conducted the Rochester and Rotterdam philharmonics, then he did the Baltimore, and now he’s music director of the Aspen thing. His son Paul was my student and the bass player in my jazz group back in the seventies. Paul wrote us a thing called “Tinkerbell’s Timex” – on a twelve-tone row, in 7/8 - and the maestro wrote us the melody. It was awful (except for the melody) - think Schoenberg meets Jimi Hendrix meets John Coltrane. I provided the counterfeit Coltrane on tenor saxophone. I still have the tape of the concert. What were we THINKING?
This issue updated and published on...
Paris readers add nine hours....