June 4, 2005
When someone like E.J. Dionne criticizes Amnesty International, you know they have messed up badly. In yesterday's Washington Post he lamented how AI secretary general Irene Khan did Bush a rhetorical favor by calling the detention camp at Guantanamo "the gulag of our times." That was such an egregious, misplaced comparison to the Soviet Brezhnev era that no further attention would be warranted, except for the fact that many people around the world really do see the U.S. through such a distorted prism. That is why Dionne unfortunately missed the mark when he wrote, "It's outrageous that Bush tried to dismiss all questions about practices in Guantanamo as the work of 'people who hate America.'" I agree that scrutiny of U.S. treatment of terrorist prisoners is needed, but it's too bad Dionne can't accept the sad fact that hatred of our country is behind much of the criticism over Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, etc. That does not excuse the abuses, but it should caution us not to take at face value wild accusations about flushing the Koran and "torture." Would it be too much to ask to give at least as much credence to the duly elected leader of the free world as to the terrorists and guerrilla fighters we were so fortunate to put behind bars? For more, see the AI report on Guantanamo and a story about the Pentagon's report in today's Washington Post. In my opinion, Amnesty International is undermining the promotion of human rights.
While the charges that the U.S. government is hypocritical about human rights are patently unfair, there is a brewing conflict in Uzbekistan, where the government brutally cracked down on protesters last month. Negotiations are underway to renew the agreement under which U.S. forces are allowed to use military bases there, and some suggest that making concessions to an authoritarian regime undermines U.S. credibility as a promoter of freedom and democracy. See Washington Post. As I mentioned on May 26, the rationale for keeping U.S. forces in that remote central Asian country is getting increasingly dubious. Unless the Pentagon and the Bush administration really are intent on dominating the world, as many who empathize with the Islamic extremists believe, we should get out now before our strategic and moral position there starts to deteriorate. Let Russia and China assume more responsibility for subduing terrorism in their own back yards. They certainly have greater interests at stake there than we do.