NO EXIT

Posted in Rants on June 3rd, 2009 by Ed

This is relatively brief; I am wilted after a 12-hour day of being interviewed by all and sundry who cared to stroll by and throw a ball at the guy suspended over the dunk tank.

Doing his best Hillary Clinton impression, the President has seen fit to reverse his decision to allow the release of additional detainee abuse photos after intense lobbying by the Pentagon and Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki.* The latter issued dire warnings when informed of the impending release, stating that "Baghdad will burn," anti-American sentiment will skyrocket (is it low now?), and much violence will befall the brave men and women of our Armed Forces, about whom the media and public ceased thinking a year ago. The President bought into the Pentagon frame, concluding that "in fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger."

Here's the thing: I don't give a shit. That is not the point. It misses the point so entirely that it seems to arise from a parallel universe in which points do not exist and the native languages have no word for the concept.

The motivations of people who argue loudly against the release of these photos have nothing to do with "protecting the troops" or a sudden urge to care in the least about the levels of unrest among the citizens of Iraq. These people don't want the photos revealed because they don't want to see them. It makes people feel guilty. It makes them feel responsible. It makes them feel stupid all over again for falling for the transparently idiotic rationale behind the war and the myriad excuses made to justify the methods used to conduct it. It makes people feel greedy, petty, and immoral to have voted – in some cases twice – for the people who are ultimately responsible for "enhanced interrogation" because they promised to cut taxes a few more times.

Tough shit, America. Look at the pictures. Look at what was done in your name. At the conclusion of the Second World War, General Eisenhower demanded that military units stationed in Germany force German civilians to enter concentration camps and view the open pits full of emaciated corpses. It was a good idea. People should not so lightly be allowed to escape the feeling of responsibility, however indirect, for their actions. We cannot let this episode fester in the back of our collective unconscious, this series of mysterious, terrible things that happened and about which we know little. Make public all of the evidence, look at it, and feel like an asshole. Sweeping evidence under the rug provides the erstwhile war cheerleaders with far too easy an out. That is, in my opinion, the surest way to repeat the entire series of events. None of the Great American Patriots who waved flags and chanted slogans like lobotomy outpatients as their heroic leaders greased the skids to war with undiluted bullshit should be allowed to escape the burden of guilt.

*Can we come to a consensus on whether or not this guy is credible? I don't care which one we pick, I'm just tired of the constant seesawing between taking him seriously and treating him and the entire Iraqi government with the polite condescension usually reserved for high school student councils.