The WaPo today informs us that US troops are increasingly “uneasy” in Iraq. No mention is made of the carnage being inflicted on Gaza as a concern.
Instead, journo Ernesto Londoño informs us that the concern is over “the new security agreement that demands that American combat troops depend more heavily than ever on their often-bungling Iraqi counterparts.” That, we are told, has left some troops feeling “vulnerable.”
Londoño quotes a US Army Specialist Cory Aermer, age 23:
“We’ve got to walk on eggshells…. I understand you can’t go out and shoot everyone and play Rambo. But war is war. We shouldn’t be falling under the jurisdiction of a country we’re at war with.”
Excuse me? Assuming Londoño didn’t put words in his mouth, somebody should explain to Specialist Armer that the US Army is not at war with the country of Iraq, but with, “the bad guys.” The idea of course is to get the good people of Iraq to reject the “bad guys,” to help them stand independently for themselves.
When not taking condescending swipes at Iraqi soldiers, Londoño appears to be siding with complaints about US troops being “forced” to “comply with the new requirement that bars the U.S. government from holding suspected criminals who have not been charged by Iraqi authorities.” According to a US Captain Dominic Heil,
“We used to detain people for their intelligence value only…. We can’t do that anymore.”
One hopes the Captain comprehends that the policy shift is actually good for American interests. It’s far easier to convince Iraqis of the merits of things like the rule of law when the US practices what it preaches. National Security “Mom” has it right: “Actions speak louder than words.”
An all-too-sad excuse often made for US soldiers behaving badly in Iraq was their civilian leadership’s winking and nodding at human rights abuses. I still have hopes for the incoming administration, but Barrack Obama’s comments on Sunday explaining why he’s in no apparent rush to close the Guantanamo Bay are disconcerting:
It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize and we are going to get it done but part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom who may be very dangerous who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted even though it’s true.
Obama apparently wants to create “a process” by which we can keep them and get around (e.g., “balance”) those pesky human rights concerns that the world finds so important. Glen Greenwald draws out the implications of Obama’s apparent stance here:
What he’s saying is quite clear. There are detainees who the U.S. may not be able to convict in a court of law. Why not? Because the evidence that we believe establishes their guilt was obtained by torture… But Obama wants to detain them anyway…. So before he can close Guantanamo, he wants a new, special court to be created…. where evidence obtained by torture… can be used to justify someone’s detention….. That’s what he means when he refers to “creating a process.”
Mr. President elect, say it isn’t so. Please stop even implying actions that will drown out our words. In your campaign, you eloquently said that, “we will send a message to the world that we are serious about our values.”
Just what message would a “process” that permits the use of evidence obtained through torture send?