Fareed Zakaria is an astute observer of the Middle east politics. And I think he is right… the moral ground has been lost.. and badly by the US. Although I dont have much sympathy for the terrorists either.. for they do not and will not stop at any point in torture themselves… but anyone who claims a moral high ground .. also has the onus of creating the differentiation in terms of different and higher standards!
That is something that the ex-Irish lady PM was trying to say on Bill Maher.. when this MSNBC commentator was all over her .. with “My country-Your UN” arguments.. little realizing that its BECAUSE OF UN like bodies and treaties that US and other Western countries could have a peaceful time. It was their “first line of defence”…. but now the situation has changed.. instead of multi-lateralism being the first response… Violent strikes by own forces have taken up that role… DISASTROUS STRATEGY!
As President Bush’s approval ratings sink at home, the glee across the globe rises. He remains the most unpopular political figure in the world, and newspapers from Europe to Asia are delighting in his troubles. Last week’s protests in Mar del Plata were happily replayed on televisions everywhere. So what is the leader of the free world to do? Well, I have a suggestion that might improve Bush’s image abroad—and it doesn’t require that Karen Hughes go anywhere. It would actually help Bush at home as well, and it has the additional virtue of being the right thing to do. It’s simple: end the administration’s disastrous experiment with officially sanctioned torture.
We now have plenty of documents and testimonials that make plain that the administration created an atmosphere in which the interrogation of prisoners could lapse into torture. After 9/11, high up in the administration—at the White House and the Pentagon—officials and lawyers were asked to find ways to bend and stretch the traditional rules of war. Donald Rumsfeld publicly declared that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to the war against Al Qaeda. Whether or not these legalisms were correct, their most important effect was the message they sent down the chain of command: “Push the envelope.”
For example, when Rumsfeld read a report documenting some of the new interrogation procedures at Guantanamo in November 2002, including having detainees stand for four hours, he scribbled a note in the margin, “Why is standing limited to 4 hours?… I stand for 8 hours a day.” (Rumsfeld probably does not stand for eight hours, scarcely clad and barely fed, with bright lights, prison guards and attack dogs trained on him.) The signal Rumsfeld was sending was clear: “Get tougher.” No one at the top was outlining what soldiers should not do, which lines they should not cross, which laws they should remember to adhere to strictly. The Pentagon’s own report after investigating Abu Ghraib, by Gen. George Fay, speaks of “doctrinal confusion … a lack of doctrine … [and] systemic failures” as the causes for the incidents of torture. In a 2 million-person bureaucracy, such calculated ambiguities will inevitably lead to something like Abu Ghraib.