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Sunday, May 16, 2004

Powell: Arab Response to Berg Insufficient
Powell said he has made clear, specifically to Arab leaders, that systematic torture of prisoners is unacceptable anywhere. Yet, he said, their denunciation of the killing of Nicholas Berg, kidnapped while in Iraq seeking business for his Pennsylvania communication company, fell far short of their attacks on the United States for the treatment of detainees at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.
How much outrage would be sufficient, exactly? Should we not be satisfied unless all Arab leaders hang themselves in protest? How far could they go before we accuse them of being insincere?

And, yes, there is a huge difference between the two atrocities. The torture was committed in the name of United States, the world superpower and a country created (in theory) to uphold and protect the rights and dignity of all human beings (that's the reason we're given for being in Iraq in the first--or second, or third--place). The killing was committed by a terrorist organization that has a long history of senseless murder--indeed, it's their primary tactic--and, frankly, the televised beheading was pretty much par for the course, and though horrible, shouldn't have been too surprising for anyone who's paid attention.

And in an unrelated note, did anyone else catch this tidbit contained in the same article?
he was confident the Iraqis who will take charge of governing the country on July 1 will support a continued U.S. presence to help provide security and financial assistance ahead of elections scheduled for January. [emphasis mine]
I thought the transition to a "sovereign" Iraqi government was going to take place June 1. Is this a simple typo, a misspoken comment by Powell, or is the date being subtly pushed back in the hopes that no one will notice?

Cold Turkey, by Kurt Vonnegut
By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.
...
Doesn’t anything socialistic make you want to throw up? Like great public schools or health insurance for all?
How about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes?
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
And so on.
Not exactly planks in a Republican platform. Not exactly Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney stuff.
For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.
“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break!
God bless Kurt Vonnegut.


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