Monday, September 26, 2005

Releasing Abu Ghraib prisoners

The U.S. plans to release 1000 prisoners from Abu Ghraib, as "a goodwill gesture to mark Ramadan." If anything proves the moral and political bankruptcy of the Bushist project in Iraq, this is it. "Symbolic" prisoner releases is not something that one does with dyed in the wool criminals and terrorists; it's something one does for political prisoners.

Don't get me wrong: it may well make sense to grant political concessions to various opposition and resistance groups in Iraq. It's a truism that the solution to insurgencies always takes place via a political process. And in political processes, granting concessions and finding political middle ground, including via symbolic gestures, can be an important element of reaching a compromise. So perhaps I should look at this announcement and just be thankful that (maybe, finally) some reality-based grownups rather than crypto-Trotskyite illusionists are finally making policy decisions in Iraq.

But if that's true, then isn't the Bush regime admitting the bogusness of the political premises for the war? Haven't the Bushists and the wingnutosphere dittoheads unceasingly insisted that the War in Iraq can only be understood as an element in the wider GWOT? And hasn't the GWOT in turn been continually defined under the Doctrine of Moral Clarity, e.g. that "either you're with us or against us"? Isn't it clear, then, that under the Bushist strategic doctrine these inmates are criminals and/or terrorists -- in which they deserve to be in jail and on trial (though perhaps not tortured) -- end of story?

What this prisoner release shows is that the powers that be in fact recognize that the people in this jail are political prisoners in a complex war in which there isn't a simple right side and wrong side. As I say, it shows some policy seriousness, but it also shows that even the last premise under which the war is being fought -- to destroy "evil" terrorism -- has essentially been abandoned.

1 comment:

Phil said...

I guess we can add "goodwill prisoner releases" to the list of tactics one always thought were the province of dictatorships, kind of like detention of citizens without trial or torture of prisoners of war or staged pro-war rallies.

What's next, show trials of formerly loyal party members?

Oh, wait, the Katrina Commission... They're on it.