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A Lot of People Hate the Double Standard Nation


24 January 2002

Why do they hate us? Well, scope out the deal at Guantanamo, and see what you think.

We go along for months having a war -- the war in Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, the war to get Osama bin Laden dead or alive, troops on the ground, bombs in the air ... in other words, war. Those of us who suggested that maybe war was not the right rhetoric for this situation were booed down for being insufficiently bloodthirsty, and the caissons went rolling along.

Now we've won the ``war.'' So we take the prisoners we've captured off to our base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and suddenly announce that they are not prisoners of war after all, because this isn't really a war we've been fighting. Therefore the prisoners are ``illegal combatants,'' and we don't have to treat them in accord with the Geneva Convention on POWs.

This is why a lot of people hate us. For the sheer bloody arrogance of having it both ways all the time. For thinking that we are above the rules, that we can laugh at treaties, that we can do whatever we want -- we don't have to keep our word or behave like other civilized nations, and we can just tell people to bugger off when they raise questions.

Now, among thoughtful world citizens, this is not why they hate us, but why they consider us stupid. Did you ever see a deal that makes us look worse? We claim we don't have to allow the International Red Cross in to inspect the conditions at Guantanamo, but you know perfectly well if Americans were being held as POWs (or even semi-POWs) anywhere in the world we would raise holy hell if the Red Cross weren't allowed to see them.

Nobody has any idea if, when or how these prisoners are going to be tried. And the insanely ironic part is this is all happening in Cuba, where Fidel Castro has been listening to lectures from us on human rights and the correct treatment of prisoners for 45 years. Bet Fee-Dell is a laughin' like a sewer over this.

What's even dumber is that we already have allowed the Red Cross to inspect the quarters at Gitmo, so we're losing a disastrous battle on the public relations front for no reason at all. When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was questioned about the photographs of the prisoners -- bound and gagged hand and foot, blindfolded, ears covered, forced to kneel -- he reacted as though it were presumptuous to even raise questions about it.

Retired Gen. Bernard Trainor said, ``Well, they like to spend a lot of time on their knees anyway.'' That'll sound good on Arab TV.

Molly Ivins
Published in the San Jose Mercury News 2002 The Mercury News



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