Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Penny-pinching and penis-pinching 

Some people just seem to think they go together. Crimes against humanity for the budget-conscious; let economy of scale work for you!

Take Donald Rumsfield (please!), the Bush régime's Secretary of Defense and one of the poster children for what is wrong with that cabal in general. You don't have to disagree with Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield/Rove politics to see that things are seriously out of whack in Iraq, even as the friendly corporate media has done a yeoman job of sweeping Afghanistan under the rug.

And then there's Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, one of the United States' oldest trophies of empire, which now serves as a handy, out-of-the-way place to put 'really bad people' (whom you disagree with, as opposed to really bad people you support, such as the early Manuel Noriega, the early Saddam Hussein, Roberto D'Aubisson, etc.) and do really nasty things to them. These things, such as physical and psychological torture, religious desecration, and so on, are things that would be illegal if they were done in the United States; the historical US spent much of the last century diplomatically fighting for and winning the safeguards for civilisation that are being so blatantly cast aside at "Gitmo".

The problem for Mr Rumsfield, and for the régime in which he plays a critical role, is that "Gitmo", as the site is nicknamed, isn't quite far enough out of the way to avoid some people, governments and organisations from noticing, documenting, and protesting the barbarities that occur there with alarming regularity.

According to a Reuters news story among other sources, the "facility" at Guanténamo is presently holding approximately 520 prisoners from 40 countries. In the three years that Gitmo has been in operation, only four have been charged with any crime. The setup costs US taxpayers nearly $100 million a year - money that could be used elsewhere, like getting American soldiers off food stamps, paying for supplies so that the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan don't have to buy their own gear with their own money, and so on. It could even be used to pay down the deficit - prudent financial management being another traditional Republican virtue that has gone by the boards in this most spendthrift adminisstration in history. But I digress.

In the face of all this, with Republican leaders in Congress and elsewhere debating whether to keep or close the detention centre at Guantánamo, the régime is grasping at any wisp of a facile excuse it can come up with to figleaf its disastrous policies. Quoting the Reuters story, "Asked to explain the advantage of keeping the Guantanamo prison rather than starting over somewhere else, Rumsfeld told a Pentagon briefing, '... The investment's been made.'".

The investment's been made? We're not talking about an automotive-parts factory here; the United States and other justice-minded countries have rightly pilloried the Eichmanns and Mugabes and Pol Pots of the world who have offered similar blather as apologia for their most heinous, brutal acts. By continuing to pursue policies that are so utterly contemptuous of the world, of justice, of humanity, the Bush régime risks not only putting the United States into that same sewer. In doing so, the régime risks real and permanent damage to what's left of the Republic by forcing its longtime, more civilised friends to distance themselves while at the same time giving enemies such as al-Qada a golden propaganda vehicle to gain all the recruits and finances and other support that they can possibly deal with.

But then again, Team Bush has never shown any indication of being able to think that far ahead. If they had, there wouldn't be a go-it-alone occupation of Iraq, several hundred Americans and several dozen thousand Iraqis would likely be alive who aren't today, and the United States could credibly focus the world's attention on the true threats - like a nuclear North Korea in easy missile range of numerous important US allies like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan - and soon Los Angeles. That may prove to be this régime's true and final crime against humanity.

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