Boot begins with a technical truth that is so deeply misleading it's as bad as a lie: "The sum total of those killed at Gitmo is … zero." As far as I know that's true--no prisoners have been killed at Guantanamo Bay. But of course prisoners have been killed at Abu Ghraib, at Bagram, and elsewhere; and have been tortured at Gitmo and elsewhere. Boot's equivocation will probably succeed in confusing some people into believing that the U.S. hasn't killed or really tortured any prisoners. And I'm sure that's his intention. Whether that's something he ought to be doing is between him and his conscience, if he has one.
(I believe that so far the number of confirmed deaths in U.S. prison camps approaches the number of POWs who died in North Vietnam's camps. And North Vietnam was notoriously brutal. But I can't find the citation now.)
But regardless; "somone else did something worse once" wouldn't be an adequate defense even if it were true. Only a moral moron would think it does. Only a soulless wretch would try to minimize the crimes that have been committed in the name of the U.S. (And only a sick bastard would quote the description of the anti-Mau Mau torture with Boot's evident glee.)
This post is going to be dated on the fourth of July, America's Independence Day. (Because I'm editing the timestamp so it posts on Eastern time.) I love America not only because it is my home, but because I think it has been a force for good and an example of democracy, freedom, and human rights (with great flaws sometimes; no invidious comparisons are intended). It is best served by trying to keep it an exemplar of democracy, freedom, and human rights. It is not well served by pooh-poohing legitimate criticism as "Anti-American screeds," and by measuring us against the yardstick of other's crimes instead of our own ideals and morals.
The Poor Man, as usual, says everything better and several days ago. My scoring below:
Positive points: 0
(Boot does use 'torture' outside of quotes, but not to refer to anything done by Americans)
-5 points for pointing out ways in which Guantanimo Bay is not like a gulag
-5 points for pointing out that Amnesty International is biased against America
-10 points for noting that the US is better than the Soviet Union
-10 points for noting that the US is better than Nazi Germany
--that's just in the first sentence, with bonus Khmer Rouge
-5 points for each invocation of 9/11 as an extenuating circumstance ["fewer than the toll from 9/11"]
-5 points for any reference to lemon chicken ["three meals a day"]
-20 points for calling all detainees “terrorists” ["suspected terrorists," but even that isn't true]
-15 points for implying that a few bad apples are responsible ["unlawful conduct by U.S. service personnel"]
-10 points for denying that torture took place in Gitmo, Iraq, and Afghanistan ["was not what passes for 'torture' in anti-American screeds today (e.g., stepping on a Koran). This was the real thing.]"
-10 points for noting that the US is better than the terrorists ["especially when they are battling fanatical mass murderers who make the Mau Mau look like Boy Scouts."]
I'm not going to take off any points for saying that there is 'no evidence' for things there are evidence for; or for denying that people have done things (e.g., kill prisoners) they have already pled guilty too; Boot does his best to make you think this, but doesn't actually take it.
Total score: -95. And there's stuff he does that doesn't count in his rating--buncha other irrelevant comparisons, and the 'impossible standards of perfection' line which echoes some toad's "the perfect is the enemy of the good." Once again, Daniel Davies:
In related news, I've seen operations that I consider to be 'perfect' and operations that I consider to be 'good', and neither of them included people tied up in their own excrement.
Happy Fourth of July. May future Fourths of July see the U.S. doing a better job of living up to our ideals.Posted by Matt Weiner at July 4, 2005 12:01 AM