Bush nominee will not restore America’s image

It isn’t supposed to be this way. We’re the good guys, aren’t we? We are the cavalry and the people who believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Most Americans still see the

It isn’t supposed to be this way. We’re the good guys, aren’t we? We are the cavalry and the people who believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Most Americans still see the country that way, but I am afraid much of the rest of the world no longer does. The reason for this is not just the abuse that took place at Abu Ghraib prison, but also the reaction of the American people to what has been done in their name.
Alberto Gonzales admits that what happened at Abu Ghraib damaged the reputation of the United States. You might remember Mr. Gonzales. He was the White House legal counsel who advised President Bush that the Geneva Conventions were “obsolete” and could be ignored.
Neoconservatives may not like it, but the same argument has been made by many representatives of totalitarian governments in history, including Nazi German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel.
Gonzales apparently sees no connection between his arguments against the Geneva Conventions and the actions of American soldiers such as Cpl. Charles Graner and Pfc. Lynndie England. They are the “bad apples” that fell from what was once considered one of the finest orchards in the world – the U.S. military.
Graner is rightly being held accountable for what he has done. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for abusing the prisoners he was assigned to guard. While Gonzales was questioned by members of the Senate about his contribution to the events at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, he is not being held accountable like Graner. Instead, he is being offered a promotion to become the next attorney general of the United States.
President Bush thinks he was held accountable for what happened in Iraq.
“We had an accountability moment, and that’s called the 2004 election,” Bush said. The president thinks since he was re-elected to office, we approve of what has been done in Iraq, including what happened at Abu Ghraib.
Before being taken over by the U.S. military, Abu Ghraib was one of Saddam Hussein’s prisons. It was a place where enemies of the regime were taken and mistreated. I cannot explain why U.S. commanders decided to reopen this place under new management, but they did. It seems the Geneva Conventions are “obsolete,” but Abu Ghraib is not.
Do you remember the reasons why the United States went to Iraq in the first place? We were there for two basic reasons: because Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and to bring democracy to the Middle East.
Well, the final reports are now in: there are not now, nor were there ever, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As for spreading democracy, the rising level of violence makes the success of the Jan. 30 elections unlikely. The fact these elections are backed by the new managers of Abu Ghraib does nothing to increase chances for success.
In his book “Beyond Good and Evil” philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
We gazed into the abyss in November, and in that “accountability moment” a majority of American voters tacitly approved of the war in Iraq.
The abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay are proof enough that the United States is falling into the trap of becoming a monster in order to combat the monster called terrorism.
We used to be better than that. I worry that is no longer true.
William Lodge can be reached at wil1959@comcast.net.

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