SJMercury: A Lot of People Hate the Double Standard Nation
By Molly Ivins
2/2/2002 12:15 am Sat
San Jose Mercury News
by Molly Ivins
Why do they hate us? Well, scope out the deal at Guantanamo, and
see what you think.
We go along for months having a war -- the war in Afghanistan, the
war on terrorism, the war to get Osama bin Laden dead or alive,
troops on the ground, bombs in the air ... in other words, war. Those
of us who suggested that maybe war was not the right rhetoric for this
situation were booed down for being insufficiently bloodthirsty, and
the caissons went rolling along.
Now we've won the ``war.'' So we take the prisoners we've captured
off to our base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and suddenly announce
that they are not prisoners of war after all, because this isn't really a
war we've been fighting. Therefore the prisoners are ``illegal
combatants,'' and we don't have to treat them in accord with the
Geneva Convention on POWs.
This is why a lot of people hate us. For the sheer bloody arrogance
of having it both ways all the time. For thinking that we are above the
rules, that we can laugh at treaties, that we can do whatever we
want -- we don't have to keep our word or behave like other
civilized nations, and we can just tell people to bugger off when they
Now, among thoughtful world citizens, this is not why they hate us,
but why they consider us stupid. Did you ever see a deal that makes
us look worse? We claim we don't have to allow the International
Red Cross in to inspect the conditions at Guantanamo, but you know
perfectly well if Americans were being held as POWs (or even
semi-POWs) anywhere in the world we would raise holy hell if the
Red Cross weren't allowed to see them.
Nobody has any idea if, when or how these prisoners are going to
be tried. And the insanely ironic part is this is all happening in Cuba,
where Fidel Castro has been listening to lectures from us on human
rights and the correct treatment of prisoners for 45 years. Bet
Fee-Dell is a laughin' like a sewer over this.
What's even dumber is that we already have allowed the Red Cross
to inspect the quarters at Gitmo, so we're losing a disastrous battle
on the public relations front for no reason at all. When Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld was questioned about the photographs of
the prisoners -- bound and gagged hand and foot, blindfolded, ears
covered, forced to kneel -- he reacted as though it were
presumptuous to even raise questions about it.
Retired Gen. Bernard Trainor said, ``Well, they like to spend a lot of
time on their knees anyway.'' That'll sound good on Arab TV.