Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Abu Ghraib Report
The release of the Abu Ghraib highlights a dogma in the US that in an election year, politics are stronger than principle. The report concludes that only the actual Abu Ghraib wardens and their immediate commanders can be faulted, and whilst the trail of leadership failures leads to Washington, there was no policy of abuse. Consequentially, there's something for everyone to hang their hat on and escape routes for each side to exploit.

Thus whilst left-leaning media such as the Guardian and the NY Times herald the report "representing an implicit indictment of the defence secretary's management of the defence department," (Guardian) and that the responsibility "extended to the defense secretary's office" (NY Times), the media on the other end of the spectrum ascribed the responsibility from the report on lone rogue soldiers. The New York Post focuses on the report stating that "there is no evidence [U.S. military leaders in Iraq and at the Pentagon] ordered any mistreatment" but rather that it was undertaken by soldiers who were "renegades" and who were "were not acting on approved orders or policies".

'Independent panels' in the US are fast becoming little more than hand-picked sheep farms that have little leeway to apportion true blame under intense political strain. The result is a 'muddying' of principles and a further regression of the international credibility of the US political process. Perhaps I'm being naive and this is just the way it will be, but it just seems that all of the recent major reports that have been released in the last year in the US have been gravely watered down, largely running the middle line and keeping masters on both sides happy.