Tuesday, December 06, 2005

We are not tents people


Earlier this year, Robert Mugabe destroyed the houses of hundreds of thousands of people in the subtly named “Operation Drive Out Rubbish.” Now, his government has rejected an offer from the UN to provide tents because “we are not tents people.”

A Bush exchange with AP reporter Nedra Pickler today:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Insurgents in Iraq claim that they have taken a U.S. citizen hostage. We also have a U.S. peace activist who is being held. Is there anything you can do to get them back?

THE PRESIDENT: We, of course, don’t pay ransom for any hostages. What we will do, of course, is use our intelligence gathering to see if we can’t help locate them. The best way to make sure that Iraq is a peaceful society is to continue to spread democracy. And, clearly, there are some there who want to stop the spread of democracy. There are terrorists there who will kill innocent people and behead people and kill children; terrorists who have got desires to hurt the American people. And it should be -- the more violent they get, the clearer the cause ought to be, that we’re going to achieve victory in Iraq, and that we’ll bring these people to justice. We will hunt them down, along with our Iraqi friends, and at the same time, spread democracy.
Notice how quickly he slides from the individual hostages to his terrorists-are-bad talking points, never making a human connection or saying a word to the families of the hostages. The rest of us just aren’t real to him. Indeed, there’s nothing in his answer that demonstrates that he knows the hostages’ names or is following this story at all. Also, saying we don’t pay ransom is fine, but the thing about using intel to track them down just increases the chances they’ll be killed.

On Iraq, he says the troops “need to hear... that we have a strategy that will win. ... And so our strategy is two-fold” (killing people, spreading democracy). Only, the thing is, in last Wednesday’s so-called major speech, he said, “Our strategy in Iraq has three elements.” He can’t even remember how many folds/elements his strategy has. Or possibly he just can’t count that high.

About secret prisons and torture, he seems to have gotten the memo about stressing how everything we do follows American laws without mentioning the Bush admin position that American laws don’t actually apply to these detainees. Note the McClellanesque use of mindless repetition:
I can tell you two things: one, that we abide by the law of the United States; we do not torture. And two, we will try to do everything we can to protect us within the law. We’re facing an enemy that would like to hit America again, and the American people expect us to, within our laws, do everything we can to protect them.

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