: I’m sure I’m late today linking to the nut of David Brook’s column on the state of the war in Iraq:
Believe me, we’ve got even bigger problems than whether Rumsfeld keeps his job. We’ve got the problem of defining America’s role in the world from here on out, because we are certainly not going to put ourselves through another year like this anytime soon. No matter how Iraq turns out, no president in the near future is going to want to send American troops into any global hot spot. This experience has been too searing.
Unfortunately, states will still fail, and world-threatening chaos will still ensue. Tyrants will still aid terrorists. Genocide will still occur. What are we going to do then? Who is going to tackle the future Milosevics, the future Talibans? If you were one of those people who thought the world was dangerous with an overreaching hyperpower, wait until you get a load of the age of the global power vacuum.
In this climate of self-doubt, the “realists” of right and left are bound to re-emerge. They’re going to dwell on the limits of our power. They’ll advise us to learn to tolerate the existence of terrorist groups, since we don’t really have the means to take them on. They’re going to tell us to lower our sights, to accept autocratic stability, since democratic revolution is too messy and utopian.
That’s a recipe for disaster. It was U.S. inaction against Al Qaeda that got us into this mess in the first place. It was our tolerance of Arab autocracies that contributed to the madness in the Middle East.
: And that is why I stay still that Rumsfeld should not go.
The revelations of abuse in Iraq are going to get worse. Rumseld told us that yesterday in his testimony before Congress.
Rape is not torture. It is a crime. Beating someone to within an inch of his life is not torture. It is a crime. And those who committed these acts should be treated like cops who assault a prisoner with a bathroom plunger: with trials and same and perp walks and prison.
Do I believe that Rumseld systematically encouraged this behavior? Of course not. Do I believe that firing him will make the slightest difference? No. If our armed forces are not better trained to know this fundamental difference between good and bad, then every defense secretary since Lt. Calley is at fault. But those most at fault at Abu Ghraib are the people who committed and encouraged these acts and they should soon serve in their own Abu Ghraibs.
: UPDATE: Let me make this clear: When I say that some of what has been done in Abu Ghraib is a crime not torture, I am saying that it is worse and is clearly punishable as a crime. Torture has many definitions. Crime is defined by statute as are its punishments.