"Global Image of the U.S. Is Worsening, Survey Finds"
The bad news: "As the war in Iraq continues for a fourth year, the global image of America has slipped further, even among people in some countries closely allied with the United States, a new opinion poll has found. "
For instance, "Support for the fight against terrorism led by the United States is also down, Pew found. Although strong majorities in several countries expressed worries about Iran's nuclear intentions, in 13 of 15 countries polled, most people said the war in Iraq posed more of a danger to world peace."
The good news: "Many respondents distinguished between their largely negative feelings about President Bush and their feelings about Americans in general."
Following up on my last post about Bush Admin blurring of the lines between violence and law-- consider the various official responses to the three suicides of Guantanamo inmates. Camp Commander Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. insisted that the suicides were "not an act of desperation, but an act of
asymmetrical warfare waged against us." Then the NYT reports that Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, commander of the United States Southern Command, thinks the suicides "may have been timed to affect the Supreme Court decision on the Hamdan case. 'This may be an attempt to influence the judicial proceedings in that perspective.'"
So, I think I get it. The Guantanamo inmates didn't kill themselves because being detained indefinitely -- maybe forever-- made their lives seem not worth living; they killed themselves in order to strike out at the United States. More specifically, they killed themselves so that they could strike the US from within by making the Supreme Court feel sorry for them, which could in turn influence the Court in the Hamdan case. So a defeat for the Administration in Hamdan would actually be a cleverly planned victory for the terrorists.
President Bush's statement on the death of Zarqawi: "Last night in Iraq, United States
military forces killed the terrorist al Zarqawi. At 6:15 p.m. Baghdad
time, special operation forces...delivered justice to the most
wanted terrorist in Iraq." (emphasis added).
Zarqawi's death is difficult to mourn. He was a brutal terrorist, and there's no reason to doubt that the air strike that killed him was justified. But though it was justified, was it really "justice"?
You might say that Bush was merely using a figure of speech-- that "justice," in this context, simply meant that Zarqawi got what he deserved. But I don't think it was just a figure of speech. On the contrary. Clausewitz saw war as "a continuation of politics by other means." Bush takes it a step further, seeing war as form of law by other means.To Bush, war is a form of law, and law is a form of war.
This administration has repeatedly sought to blur the boundaries
between law and violence in the context of the war on terror, both
through efforts to "legalize" various forms of violence (including once impermissible forms of violence, through the torture
memos, for instance) and through efforts to militarize law and legal
process (consider the Administration's largely sucecssful efforts to
conceptualize Padilla, Hamdi, et al. as enemy combatants).
I'm not sure "militarizing law" is the right way to put it- but think of the term "lawfare," used to suggest that "the enemy" is using international law aginast the US as part of a "war" against us (and also used to suggest that those who raise legal objections to US war on terror tactics are somehow aiding the enemy).
I'd be the first to say that the boundaries between "law" and "violence" or "force" are inherently blurry and socially constructed - but the administration's efforts to further blur those boundaries strikes me as both interesting and disturbing.
Condoleezza Rice has announced that the US is willing to enter into direct talks with Iran, and the press is trumpeting it as a major shift in policy. Well, um, it would be, if it were. But Rice says Iran first has to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing programs, or else no talks! So, if I understand this right, we're happy to negotiate directly with Iran in an effort to convince Iran to suspend its nucelar program... but only if Iran first promises that it will suspend its nuclear program.
WHEN SIX recently retired generals criticized Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld's handling of the Iraq war and urged his resignation, the Bush
administration reacted as if the generals had announced an impending
military coup. Within days, administration loyalists were suggesting
that the generals had been disloyal not merely to Rumsfeld but to
American democracy itself. The rest is here.