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That Is Funny

The community of those of us obsessed with the Committee On the Present Danger Mark III expands:

Compared to previous wars, he argues, the costs are minimal. The doubters, [Podhoretz] intones, “fail to understand what a war is like.” It's an odd choice of words given that one of Podhoretz's own CPD colleagues, Kenneth Adelman, famously predicted in a March 2002 Washington Post op-ed that “liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.” But Podhoretz is undeterred. The Iraq war, he declares, has gone “triumphantly.” The crowd applauds vigorously at this.

Later in the day--perhaps for those wondering if the Iraqis themselves agree with Podhoretz's assessment--the conference organizers screen a trailer for Voices in Iraq, a forthcoming feature-length documentary for which two movie producers had handed out digital video cameras to ordinary Iraqis and asked them to film their daily lives. Evidently, the Iraqis in question see things the way CPD does. Men on the streets of Baghdad discuss how nice it is to have Saddam gone and to be better paid now. One child asks his mother what she thinks of democracy. “Hassan,” she replies to her son, “democracy means having individual freedom.” A torture victim of Saddam says he wouldn't mind being tortured at Abu Ghraib. “You have a nice American woman undress you and play with your penis,” he smirks. The audience laughs.

Torture, haha!

November 5, 2004 | Permalink

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» A visit to the neocon twilight zone... from Nutbar
Via Matthew Yglesias: A torture victim of Saddam says he wouldn't mind being tortured at Abu Ghraib. “You have a nice American woman undress you and play with your penis,” he smirks. The audience laughs. Link: Matthew Yglesias: That Is [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 5, 2004 3:57:47 PM

» A visit to the neocon twilight zone... from Nutbar
Via Matthew Yglesias: A torture victim of Saddam says he wouldn't mind being tortured at Abu Ghraib. “You have a nice American woman undress you and play with your penis,” he smirks. The audience laughs.Link: Matthew Yglesias: That Is [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 5, 2004 4:05:47 PM

Comments

some day our children will be able to look back on this with the same puzzled amusement that I look back at the 1944 Academy Award Nominees for Best Documentary:

1. The Fighting Lady (The United States Navy)
2. Resisting Enemy Interrogation (The United States Army Air Force)

Posted by: cleek | Nov 5, 2004 1:08:10 PM

If the hawks have to think that torture is an inherent evil, they would be forced to oppose a lot of the administration policies basic to Bush's anti-terrorism strategy. It's quite essential that they be able to look at torture and shrug, "Well, they probably deserved it."

Posted by: PG | Nov 5, 2004 1:13:45 PM

If we're going to laugh about torturing people, and the people we torture are going laugh about it, then I think I'd like to just live in a bio-dome on Mars - away from the planet that's obviously going to heck in a handbasket.

Posted by: Matt | Nov 5, 2004 1:26:02 PM

Matt,
I don't think that anybody is laughing at torture, but the degree of torture as compared with what had taken place makes it seem laughable. It is still unacceptable, and has obviously been taken very serious by the military leadership.

Posted by: Kevin | Nov 5, 2004 1:30:39 PM

Podhoretz is the world's most famous author who has never written an actual book. Like many authors, he's written books reflecting on his career as an author. But those are the only books he's ever written.

Posted by: Zizka | Nov 5, 2004 1:32:23 PM

I don't think that anybody is laughing at torture, but the degree of torture as compared with what had taken place makes it seem laughable

You're not talking about the ones who were beaten to death, are you, you moron?

Posted by: Toadmonster | Nov 5, 2004 1:36:08 PM

Even in torture, everything is relative. What went on Abu Ghraib was torture, not mere 'abuse', but it really was significantly less horrific than what we've learned of Saddamist practices. (How's that for a rallying cry... 'Significantly less horrific.)

As for the accussation that the military has attempted to deal seriously with the problem... well, I'd believe that if I saw the officers below the CO of the prison being held criminally responsible and Rumsfeld being held politically responsible (forced to resign). It hasn't been a total coverup, but it hasn't been dealt with vigrously either.

Posted by: dubious | Nov 5, 2004 1:39:43 PM

Toastmaster -

You obviously took my statement the wrong way. I don't advocate any torture that is reported to have taken place. What I said is that the degree, made it seem laughable. The things that went on there before we took over were well beyond anything that has occurred since, to include anybody who may have been beaten to death. Torture of prisoners is not acceptable, but as with everything, human nature tends to compare extent, and we don’t even come close at our worst, plus those responsible are held accountable. Accountability alone creates a pretty big distinction.

Posted by: Kevin | Nov 5, 2004 1:47:11 PM

The Abu Ghraib story is a vivid case exhibiting the voyeuristic sexual obsessions of the American media, even the "hard news". The very first batch of pictures that came out included one picture of a dead man on ice who had apparently been beaten to death. But because of the kinky SM masturbation pictures, it got no attention, making remarks like Kevin's possible.

In Afghanistan our allies forced hundreds, perhaps thousands of prisoners into freight containers and then machinegunned them. Little publicity on that either -- not XXXXX enough.

Posted by: Zizka | Nov 5, 2004 2:10:10 PM

compared to previous wars, the benefits are minimal.

Posted by: Olaf glad and big | Nov 5, 2004 2:15:55 PM

Dubious,
What went on Abu Ghraib was torture, not mere 'abuse', but it really was significantly less horrific than what we've learned of Saddamist practices.

What were the Saddamist practices and how did you learn about them?

Is it possible that you learned about them from the same sources that reported to you about those terrible stockpiles of WMDs?

Posted by: abb1 | Nov 5, 2004 2:16:14 PM

The Justice Department, under Pres. Bush set the ground rules that allowed the torture to go on at abu Graib. Ashcroft and Rumsfeld were directly in charge of the system including abu Graib and GITMO. None of those three have been held accountable, and we, the voters, by electing Bush president have said we approve of the torture. So much for holding people accountable.

Posted by: Vaughn Hopkins | Nov 5, 2004 2:26:09 PM

abb1-

Somehow, I was sure you would weigh in on this issue. I am not sure how Dubious found out about the atrocities committed by Saddam, but I heard them just southwest of Najaf from an English speaking Iraqi who had been a teacher prior to saddam. This old guy was around for the rise and fall of Saddam, and he had some great insight. Believe me, I don’t condone any wrong doing on the part of any members of the military, but I have not heard one story of the actions on the part of our soldiers, as reprehensible as some of them may be, that can turn my stomach like what that old man told me.

Posted by: Kevin | Nov 5, 2004 2:36:42 PM

Abb1, how about this report from Amnesty International, that bastion of Neocon Imperialism.

http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE140101999?open&of=ENG-IRQ

"Political detainees in Iraq are subjected to the most brutal forms of torture. The bodies of many of those executed had evident signs of torture, including the gouging out of the eyes, when returned to their families. The most common methods of physical torture include electric shocks to various parts of the body, pulling out of fingernails, long periods of suspension by the limbs, beating with cables, falaqa (beating on the soles of the feet), cigarette burns on various parts of the body, and piercing of hands with an electric drill. Psychological torture includes threats of bringing in a female relative of the detainee, especially the wife or the mother, and raping her in front of the detainee, threats of arresting and harming other members of the family, mock executions and being kept in solitary confinement for long periods of time."

A few rogue guards, equivalent to the sadistic military police in the US armed forces? How about this:

"In 1994 Iraq, through a series of decrees issued by the RCC, introduced judicial punishment amounting to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments for at least 30 criminal offences, including theft in certain circumstances, monopolizing rationed goods, defaulting or deserting from military service and performing plastic surgery on an amputated arm or leg. The punishments consisted of the amputation of the right hand for a first offence, and of the left foot for a second offence, or the severance of one or both ears. People convicted under these decrees were also branded with an ''X'' mark on the forehead.(21)"

That is, punishment by torture and mutilation was official policy for property crimes.

It's from 1999. A simple search of Amnesty's database will reveal many other similar reports pre-dating the invasion.

Normally, I try to stay away from ad hominem attacks, so I'll confine myself to this weaselly sideswipe:

Abb1, your postings defy belief. And this latest one of yours far surpasses the others. How you can imagine yourself to be someone who is motivated by humane concerns for the welfare of your fellow man rather than partisan hatred of an opposing political tribe, I cannot imagine. I do not know whether to hope that you post in oblivious innocence to all standards of truth and morality, or whether you know you should post otherwise, but cannot help yourself.

Posted by: dubious | Nov 5, 2004 2:38:30 PM

You want stomach turning? How about Pfc. Lyndie England (or whatever the fuck) playing with your penis?

Posted by: Dan | Nov 5, 2004 2:41:33 PM

So our rallying cry here is "USA! USA! We're don't torture innocent people AS BADLY as Saddam Hussein did!".

America, Fuck Yeah.

Posted by: Morat | Nov 5, 2004 2:42:37 PM

Mr. Cleek,

Have you seen those documentaries ?

"The Fighting Lady" is very good indeed. I don't see why it should be the target of puzzled amusement.

Posted by: luisalegria | Nov 5, 2004 2:47:28 PM

Free handys for terrorists. The horror!

Posted by: Modern Crusader | Nov 5, 2004 2:57:08 PM

dubious,
electic shock, suspension by the limbs, beatings, rape, arresting members of the family - all these methods have been utilized by the liberators.

You say they were just a few rogue guards, but others say it was a quasi-official policy, read Seymour Hersh.

Frankly, I thought you were going to treat me by more exciting stories - meat grinders, feeeding people to lions and stuff like that. You didn't.

Cheers.

Posted by: abb1 | Nov 5, 2004 2:58:47 PM

I think we should all agree that torture by american troops has never been documented to be as bad as the worst tortures under Saddam, so -- unless some of it has been kept secret -- we are better than Saddam. The prisoners who were tortured to death are still dead whichever side did it, of course.

And I think we can all agree that since Bush has been re-elected for another 4 years, it no longer matters what we think about it. We can kibitz however we want based on whatever news is allowed out of iraq, but we have no influence.

Posted by: J Thomas | Nov 5, 2004 3:00:35 PM

Can we get a link or citation on the Afghanistan machine-gunning? That's news to me.

Posted by: sh | Nov 5, 2004 3:00:40 PM

Morat-

Forget the rally cry, fact is we don't have policies of condoned, sanctioned or systematic torture. Those who commit acts of torture are punished. Being American doesn’t make you inherently a good person, if that was the case our police would be bored and our jails would be empty.
And just because nobody deserves torture doesn’t automatically make all who are tortured innocent. Given a reversal of roles, many of those who were tortured would gladly have done the torturing. That’s not a justification, just an observation on the use of the word innocent where it doesn’t necessarily apply.

Posted by: Kevin | Nov 5, 2004 3:00:41 PM

If you look back to my first post, you will see my words ('How's that for a rallying cry... 'Significantly less horrific'. To anyone with a modicum of sense, this means that I find US actions in Abu Ghraib horrific and disheartening. It erodes (but does not completely eliminate) the claim/aim of the invasion improving the human rights situation in Iraq.

You will see that I said that the investigation of Abu Ghraib hasn't been a total coverup, but it hasn't been vigorous either.

Was Saddam bad? Yes. Was he as bad as Pol Pot or Hitler? No. Was he worse than Mussolini? Probably. Was Mussolini worse than Bush? Probably. Is Bush worse than Blair? It seems so.

Is terror-bombing (whether from air, or suicide commandos) bad? Yes. Is it as bad as genocide? No. Is it worse than 'collateral damage' where only slight effort is given to avoiding civilian casualties? Yes.

These things are all relative. Relativity and shades of gray should not be confused with moral equivalence or refusal to condemn.

Seeing the world through the black-and-white lens of tribal partisanship leads to exactly the sort of dehumanizing demonization that allows us to stop respecting other people's human rights.

Posted by: dubious | Nov 5, 2004 3:22:50 PM

I think we should all agree that torture by american troops has never been documented to be as bad as the worst tortures under Saddam, so -- unless some of it has been kept secret -- we are better than Saddam.

Give it time: Saddam had been doing it for 30 years, and we just started. Yes, shoving someone head first into a sleeping bag and jumping on him till he's dead is kinda pathetic and clumsy, but 'we' will get better, especially as it's being privatized.

Posted by: abb1 | Nov 5, 2004 3:24:44 PM

Kevin, you were doing really well up until your 3:00 posting. No, none of us should agree for a second that the people being tortured would gladly be torturers; most of the people being tortured, in fact, were "innocent" of any connection to anything other than their daily lives. This is not an acceptable argument. We are supposed to be the rule of law people, not the law of the jungle people. (As a related note, as the rule of law people, the notion that we are punishing the low-level folks and not even investigating the high-level folks who encouraged and enabled this torture is a typically sad commentary on life during the bush years. Assuming honest history is still allowed to be written in the future, historians will struggle to make sense of how the "moral values" crowd came to see gay-hating as making up for truly immoral behavior.)

More broadly, though, let's turn to podhoretz's main point: for all the talk the past few days about elitist condescension, blah, blah, blah, there is no thing more elitist and condescending than ideologically blinkered fantasists making up stories about how well things are going in iraq. these people may not be clinically insane, but they are functionally out of touch with reality and the reprecussions for failure to address reality are going to be enormous.

Don't forget, 44% of voters think that iraq is "going well." 90% of those people voted for bush, so 80% of bush voters think the demonstrable untruths that podhoretz uttered to his delusional fellow travellers.

i'd like to think that eventually reality cracks even the most protective veneer of denial, but then again, there are still people who think that we could have "won" vietnam....

Posted by: howard | Nov 5, 2004 3:33:44 PM

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