Wednesday, June 08, 2005


"The U.S. continues to suffer terrible embarrassment and a blow to our reputation . . . because of reports concerning abuses of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo."

So said Jimmy Carter Tues at something called "Human Rights Defenders on the Frontlines of Freedom: Advancing Security and the Rule of Law." Ever the pragmatist, Carter kept his critique on tactical grounds, showing concern for "our reputation" over, from what I've seen, the actual beaten flesh reality of torture on the ground. In other words, Carter is primarily distressed by the negative PR effect torture has on America's self-advertised "good name." Typical technocrat working well within the mainstream frame. But I'm certain, though I've yet to check (there's only so much poison I can ingest in a day), that warbloggers and lib hawks will respond with the standard "treason" takes, how Carter is un-American, a pussy, a girl, etc.

I've never fully understood this reaction to Carter. Despite his "human rights" talk while president, Carter actively supported state terror in the Americas and south Asia, and helped to kick-start our glorious alliance with Osama bin-Laden and Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Afghanistan. His wimp rep seems to stem primarily from the Iran hostage crisis, where he was essentially hog-tied. Why didn't he nuke Tehran? rightwingers then complained. Ronald Reagan would've! Well, I seriously doubt that -- but I do remember that call being quite popular at the time. And of course Iran and the domestic "malaise" it stirred played a significant part in Carter's 1980 defeat.

(And far from nuking Iran for hostage-taking, Reagan later shipped arms to the mullahs in exchange for the release of other hostages, presumably politically correct ones. It was all part of something then-called the Iran/contra scandal that only us old timers seem to recall.)

Since that time, Carter's wimp/traitor rep has been carefully cultivated and employed whenever the former president speaks out about this or that. Again, I wonder why. After all, Carter, ignoring the pleas of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, pumped money and arms into the Salvadoran security forces that were responsible for the majority of bloodshed in that country, including the assassination of Romero himself. Carter also replenished the Indonesian military with a steady supply of weapons as Suharto continued wiping out a sizable chunk of the East Timorese population. It was under Carter's watch where the most reactionary, backward and violent elements in the Muslim world were recruited to attack the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan. Osama happily took part, choosing as one of his first targets a co-ed elementary school. Terrorist attacks on children by Islamic extremists were then seen by American patriots as "freedom fighting," and Carter was no different. Yet, these same people today view the guy as the weakest of sisters (as well as taking no responsibility for linking arms with the likes of Bin Laden, to the degree any of them will admit it).

I'm tempted to say that our domestic Phalange either possess situational ethics which can shift with each political breeze, or that they have some kind of emotional turbulence which requires that an enemy dedicated to their destruction always be present. But I'm still not sure. Either way, I don't see how Carter, given his bloody resume, vexes them so.

As for our national rep being tarnished through torture and abuse, well, if some sadistic fuck pleads innocent long enough, he or she will soon believe that this is so, or will at least find a way to minimize the larger effects of his or her brutality. It appears that Carter is taking the second route, for which his patriotic hecklers should thank him. He is, in essence, trying to cover their sorry red asses.