...democracy doesn't easily lend itself to evangelism; it requires more than faith. It requires a solid, educated middle class and a sophisticated understanding of law, transparency and minority rights. It certainly can't be imposed by outsiders, not in a fractious region where outsiders are considered infidels. This is not rocket science. It is conventional wisdom among democracy and human-rights activists—and yet the Administration allowed itself to be blinded by righteousness. Why? Because moral pomposity is almost always a camouflage for baser fears and desires. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neoconservatives share a primal belief in the use of military power to intimidate enemies. If the U.S. didn't strike back "big time," it would be perceived as weak. (Crushing the peripheral Taliban and staying focused on rooting out al-Qaeda cells wasn't "big" enough.) The President may have had some personal motives—doing to Saddam Hussein what his father didn't; filling out Karl Rove's prescription of a strong leader; making the world safe for his friends in the energy industry. The neoconservatives had ulterior motives too: almost all were fervent believers in the state of Israel and, as a prominent Turkish official told me last week, "they didn't want Saddam's rockets falling on Tel Aviv." At the very least, they were hoping to intimidate the Palestinians into accepting Ariel Sharon's vision of a "state" without sovereignty.
Abu Ghraib made a mockery of American idealism. It made all the baser motives—oil, dad, Israel—more believable. And it represents all the moral complexities this President has chosen to ignore—all the perverse consequences of an occupation.
The believability of the baser motives, moral complexities, and perverse consequences of this president and his invasion of Iraq have been actively discussed throughout this entire fiasco, starting shortly after 9-11-01, but you had to read the fringe media and blogs to see it.
The mainstream media are only now getting even the remotest clue as to what has been going on in our names around the world — because they did not have enough faith in context, perspective, facts, noncommercial principles, or their readers. They refused to dig, to question, to verify, to challenge.
They had faith without doubt in the president who sold them the idea of faith without doubt.
The truth has been waiting there, in plain view, all along. But the media's sense of outrage suddenly comes out of hiding now, all because of a few fucking pictures.