Google map and fuel to fire
A few days ago, Bush was asked what his biggest regret was. Many blogs have covered the first answer he gave ("bring it on"), but I thought his second admission was interesting as well. Bush said:
I think the biggest mistake that's happened so far, at least from our country's involvement in Iraq, is Abu Ghraib. We've been paying for that for a long period of time. And it's -- unlike Iraq, however, under Saddam, the people who committed those acts were brought to justice; they've been given a fair trial and tried and convicted.
It is interesting on two counts. First, because he admits what many of us have been saying for some time, namely that these tactics are more harm than they're worth. For example, ICG released a report earlier this year on how best to counter the insurgency. Four out of their 6 recommendations were about ending human rights abuses committed by the Coalition and their Iraqi allies. These suggestions were not made because it is the moral thing to do, but because the strategic price, in terms of good will and trust, is higher than the benefits derived.
Bush's response was also interesting because he asserts that the people responsible have been brought to justice. The Daily Irrelevant has a nice summary of why that claim is not accurate. To date, no commanding officers have been prosecuted.
Unfortunately, the innaccuracy on the second count exacerbates the unhappy truth identified in the first. If the mere fact of Abu Ghraib damaged the war effort, how much worse is it made by the continuation of these policies, and the lack of accountability from the higher-ups? What's done is done, but it is not done with. The Coalition will continue to pay for Abu Ghraib until this policy is ended, and the victims of these abuses and their communities are given justice and closure.
Recommended video: Lifting the Hood- The Prisoners of Abu Ghraib, Dateline Nov 2005. Streaming video and transcript