Sat, June 26, 2004
Truth loses in Iraq war
By Peter Worthington -- For the Toronto Sun
Increasingly, many Americans (and others) are distressed at media reports from Iraq, that they feel are distorted and create a false impression.
There's some truth to this -- witness CNN jumping uncritically to report that Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld okayed the use of so-called waterboard torture that simulates drowning in order to extract confessions.
This subsequently turned out to be untrue -- although Rumsfeld okayed a number of interrogation techniques, but nothing that violated the Geneva Convention. What he okayed was interrogators yelling at prisoners, offering inducements, the use of multiple interrogators, using lies to get info, deceit, false documents, but nothing injurious or life-threatening.
Prisoners may be denied hot food and "condemned" to eat MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), which, horrors, are what American soldiers eat in the field. Oh, the inhumanity ...
President George W. Bush is on record vowing that the "principles" of the Geneva Convention will apply to all prisoners.
As for the despicable (but not lethal) abuse of Iraq prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, the U.S. now has footage of Iraqi guards slowly and imaginatively killing prisoners bit by bit to reassure Saddam Hussein and his perverted, homicidal sons.
Frankly, I'd argue that these films be widely shown, if only to put "torture" into perspective -- such as Muslim militants decapitating hostages. How are such people reformed or re-educated into cultural decency?
In truth, they can't be. Putting current events into perspective is never easy and rarely appreciated. But it's sometimes necessary.
I received the following from Simma Holt, former Liberal MP under Pierre Trudeau and a News Hall of Fame journalist from B.C.
Where Simma -- no fan of the Bush family -- got this I've no idea, but it's a perspective that often differs from what we get from media reports:
Last January, there were 39 combat-related killings in Iraq. In the city of Detroit there were 35 murders in the same month. That's just one American city -- about as deadly as the entire war-torn country of Iraq.
When some claim President Bush shouldn't have started this war because Iraq never threatened America, it could be recalled that in 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt went to war with Germany, which never attacked America. Japan did.
From 1941-1945, 450,000 American lives were lost -- an average of 112,500 per year.
President Harry Truman concluded the war against Japan ... and started one in Korea. North Korea never attacked America as al-Qaida did, but from 1950-1953, 55,000 U.S. lives were lost, an average of 18,334 per year.
John Kennedy started the Vietnam conflict in 1962. Vietnam never attacked. President Lyndon Johnson turned Vietnam into a quagmire. From 1965-1975, 58,000 lives were lost -- an average of 5,800 per year.
When he was president, Bill Clinton went to war in Kosovo, without UN or French consent. Serbia never attacked America. Clinton was offered Osama bin Laden's head on a platter three times by Sudan and did nothing. Osama has attacked the West on multiple occasions.
In the two years since 9/11, Bush has liberated two countries. Crushed the Taliban. Crippled al-Qaida. Put nuclear inspectors in Libya, Iran and North Korea without firing a shot and captured a terrorist who slaughtered 300,000 of his own people.
The Democrats are complaining about how long the war is taking, but it took less time to take Iraq than it took Janet Reno to take the Branch Davidian compound -- a 51-day operation.
We've been looking for evidence of chemical weapons in Iraq for less time that it took Hillary Clinton to find the Rose law firm billing records.
It took less time for the 3rd Infantry Division and the Marines to destroy the Medina Republican Guard than it took Ted Kennedy to call the police after his Oldsmobile sank at Chappaquiddick.
It took less time to take Iraq than it took to count the votes in Florida.
From this perspective, President Bush as commander-in-chief is doing a great job, with military morale high.
Some people just don't see all the facts.