The Economist checks in with their opinion on the Camp X-Ray debacle. They feign balance, and end up serving a messy, contradictory, confusing stew of elitist desires and half-truths, with worse analysis than what regularly appears here at Balloon Juice (which, I might add, is no easy feat). Let’s take a look at a little of it:
The dispute about Camp X-Ray is becoming a more damaging re-run of the earlier rift with Europe over the Kyoto protocol on global warming. On the European (especially British) side, exaggerated criticism has taken the place of reasonable doubt. On the American side, the arrogant dismissal of legitimate concerns could be stirring up unnecessary problems abroad.
When they state that this is just a re-run of European foolishness about having their feelings hurt ala Kyoto, they are spot on. But look at the next two sentences. If the Europeans are providing exaggerated criticism in the place of reasonable doubt, then we are not dismissing anything arrogantly. We just refuse to take seriously what ‘you’ have also decided is exaggerated criticism. And if they are just exaggerated criticisms, we are not stirring up unnecessary problems, but perhaps ruffling the delicate sensibilities of the Europeans. Remember- this is the same group who watched their neighbor’s house burn down for ten years (Yugoslavia/former-Yugoslavia/Bosnia/Kosovo) essentially doing nothing while waiting for us to cross the Atlantic to put out the flames, all the while posturing about a European Union defense force and questioning the importance of NATO. The Economist might better ask why we take these supposed allies seriously at all- indeed, as noted in the opening paragraph, even the NY Times ignored the Brits initially on the torture charges (not one to miss out on an opportunity for some sanctimony and unbridled self-loathing, they quickly picked up the drumbeat).
So far, the accusation of torture is, to put it mildly, unsubstantiated.
Or, too put it bluntly, a lie. Or wrong. Or stupid. Or rank anti-American sentiment by the Eurocrats, who are flummoxed by the speed and success the Bush administration has had rapidly redefining the world, putting those who act in the best interest of all above those talk in great detail in Brussels about the best interest of all. Even more annoying, Bush et. al is putting American interests above the other nations. Nations like China, Cuba, North Korea, and all the other piss-ant IMF basket case nations whose only contribution to the global rhetoric is to call us racist and Israel terrorists. If I am confusing you, think ABM treaty, Kyoto, International Criminal Court, etc.
The photographs themselves show prisoners in transit, where restraints are legal under any number of international conventions. They do not depict the conditions of detention. The weaker charge-laid by many European governments and the European Commission-is that keeping prisoners outside, shaved, and in cages amounts to inhuman treatment. It too seems bogus. The Red Cross is still investigating, but a British captive told diplomats that the conditions were acceptable. Unless Cuba’s balmy weather is intolerable to fighters who have spent the winter in Afghan caves, the charges don’t stand up.
But it sure is fun re-iterating the charges, pretending to not believe, and then waffling in your analysis. Welcome to the ‘Have Your Cake and Eat It Too Club.’ Try not to crowd the NY Times and Dan Rather from the dinner table.
The mistake is revealing. In Britain the furore about Camp X-Ray has spread well beyond the reliably Yankophobic redoubts of the left. Conservative MPs and veterans of Nazi POW camps also expressed their disgust. Yet an unscientific instant poll on the Internet version of one tabloid found a large majority refusing to condemn Camp X-Ray as barbaric. That suggests the European reaction may have more to do with anti-Americanism among the elite than any deep-felt public revulsion.
Two comments. The first one involves Sherlock Holmes and an absence of feces. The second one queries whether you would consider the poll unscientific had the results skewed in the opposite direction.
Still, it carries a cost.
I can almost hear the silver brie and pate de foie gras platters hitting the floor.
European grumbles have reconfirmed a suspicion in America that the old world is a continent so hopeless that America must regularly ride in to rescue it from war. Such views, expressed on talk-shows in the heartland, also find an audience in the Bush administration. His people are anyway sceptical about international treaties and waffle (see foreign policy, passim). The Camp X-Ray episode could make them still more dubious about assuaging foreign opinion. Donald Rumsfeld’s remark that he “didn’t feel the slightest concern” about the prisoners could also apply to his feelings about foreign criticism.
Gee. I wonder why Americans may not trust their European friends to keep themselves out of war? Here is a tip guys- Go get an encyclopedia, any encyclopedia. Look up: “20th Century.” You might find some clues there. And again, when the opinion of foreign elites is ‘exaggerated criticism’ and ‘unsubstantiated,’ if Bush’s policy advisors ARE taking you seriously, he is going to have hell to pay from people like me.
It goes on, accusing us of double-dealing on the Geneva convention and other stuff, but I am taking the hint from my CINC’s lead. I refuse to take these people seriously.
Glenn Kinen addresses the part of the article I did not review, and makes an excellent point. I was too busy being petulant to voice the merits of this, but he may be on to something. I am still not sure.
I see no reason why the US can’t be fastidiously legal in this whole affair: appoint a few federal judges to a panel that decides whether these people are POWs or not (should be simple, given the Geneva criteria), and we stay true to our own principles–neverminding what the EC thinks.
My main beef is with the knee-jerk attacking of America, and the fact that the Economist all but says that the criticisms are unwarranted and absurd, but then wimps out. Notsure if I have linked Glenn’s site before, but someone mentioned it the other day and he does a fair job (although I am not sure how frequently we will agree). That matters not. I like people who disagree with me, as long as they have a point and state it well (I should take my own advice). Plus, his critiques own.