Saturday, May 08, 2004

So many trees, so little forest 

Elsewhere in "The Australian", the editor-at-large Paul Kelly joins in the worldwide media mass self-flagellation:

"These events [at the Abu Ghraib prison] strike at the last surviving justification for the war. No weapons of mass destruction have been discovered. No link has been found between Saddam and September 11. And now the argument of saving the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator is mocked with the prison's change of ownership.

"It is difficult to imagine a worse propaganda defeat. The US might just as well have invited Osama bin Laden to write the script. George W. Bush, attacked for his obsession with morality, is under fire for his immorality."

Others, who unlike Kelly, are able to maintain some sense of proportion might query his conclusion that putting fake electrodes on people and snapping photos of naked prisoners "mocks" the argument for removing a "brutal dictator." Hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, not to mention dead Iranians and Kuwaitis, might want to argue with that proposition.

And George Bush "under fire for his immorality"? Hello, did I miss something? Like Bush posing for a photograph with his thumbs up next to a naked hooded prisoner? Or Bush ordering the prison abuse? Or Bush knowingly acquiescing in the abuse? Or Bush covering up the abuse? Or Bush downplaying it and haughtily refusing to apologise for it? This is a pretty repugnant piece of moral relativism that seemingly puts Bush on the same level with people like Saddam. Might be good enough for Michael Moore, but it shouldn't be good enough for somebody of Paul Kelly's stature.

Elsewhere in his opinion piece, Kelly approvingly quotes the words of Colin Powell's chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, who had this to say: "I don't care whether utopians are Vladimir Lenin on a sealed train to Moscow or Paul Wolfowitz. Utopians I don't like." But in Kelly's own universe of absolutist morality one cannot see the forest for the trees and one scandal such as prisoner abuse somehow overshadows and negates the far greater good of seeing the end of Hussein's tyranny.

Thank God there were no photographers in the prisons in Germany and France (much less Russia) after the Allied victory in 1945, or Kelly's commentariat predecessors might have deemed the Second World War an immoral adventure that wasn't worth fighting.


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