Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Well said Mr Crowley!

Philip J Crowley was the American Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs from 26 May 2009 until 13 May 2011.  His resignation was precipitated by his remark on Thursday 10 March when he said that the Pentagon's treatment of Bradley Manning was "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid."

He took complete responsibility for the remarks saying they were his personal views and not those of the US but pointedly did not apologise for them or retract them.  He added that his comments "were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership."

Obama, who was somewhat forced to comment on P J Crowley's comment, said "I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards.  They assure me that they are."  That response by Obama is ridiculous in the extreme.  To turn to the people who are accused of acting illegally and to ask them if they are doing things right and to use their answer to  abdicate his responsibility is party to any illegal activity.  In fact it is arguably a crime in itself.  Imagine telling the police that Joe stole your antique clock.  The police ask Joe if he stole it and he says no.  So the police then use that to prevent you doing anything more to get your clock back.  What Obama should have done was to initiate an independent investigation into the affair.  Simples!

What Crowley is referring to is, of course, the blatant contradiction in the public political stance of supporting humanitarian values and legitimate legal due process and the actual practice of the American government.  Whilst all the unrest is growing in the Middle East the US is constantly promoting "civilised" values by condemning the practices of dictatorial regimes arresting dissenters without charge, torturing them and generally pursuing a policy of strong arm tactics to intimidate those who threaten the powerbase of the rulers.  Admittedly the US have now moved Bradley Manning to a military base in Virginia and actually charged him with some crimes but it was an unacceptable time coming.  Now they are holding him in solitary confinement and are essentially grinding him down by inhumane treatment.  The irony is that the only purpose of this illegitimate and cruel treatment is as a threat to anyone else who thinks they might be tempted to reveal the underhand, deceitful and immoral behaviour of the US.  The only way that has any effect is to let it be known that they are treating him this way.  By letting it be known they are advertising their contradictory stance on human values.  This is why Crowley says it is "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid."  It is obviously so.

P J Crowley's statement in fact says more than most people realise.  Take the two extreme scenarios: (1) that the US are a nice bunch of folk and (2) that they are an illegitimate tyrannical bunch of thugs.  In the first scenario where they are a nice bunch then if they are treating Bradley Manning illegitimately by keeping him in solitary confinement and effectively psychologically torturing him with regimes like forcing him to sleep naked (under the pretence of concerns for his own safety) then their behaviour is not ridiculous it is erroneous.  It is not counterproductive it is illegal.  It is perhaps stupid but really it is contradictory.  If, however, the US are a bunch of thugs trying to maintain power by silencing people then their stance is ridiculous because it counters their claims of being against such behaviour in the Middle East.  It is counterproductive because the intent is to silence people and all the evidence is that it will attract attention to the illegitimate behaviour of the US and cause a rise in the commitment by people to expose the US's duplicity and deception.  It is remarkably stupid that a thug keeps himself in power by stating his commitment to human rights and then publically (with intent) lets it be known that he uses these kinds of tactics to suppress dissent.  In summary P J Crowley's remarks actually have the underlying unspoken assumption that the US are the bad guys.  Crowley himself said that Manning should be in custody.  Whether or not you agree with that he is at least claiming that there could be a legitimate case against him and that due legal process should be carried out.  Crowley himself agrees with the arguments against Manning but what he realises (perhaps even without realising it) is that the fools are evidencing their own illegitimacy by publically treating Manning in this way.  Crowley is a bit of a Judas figure in this respect because he still thinks the US government's intentions are good.  One day he might realise they are treating Manning this way deliberately.  It is their policy.  It is their mode of operation.  It is not a mistake.

One of the perennial problems facing any person or institution in a position of power is that they will eventually be held to account for their own projected values.  If the US or the UK or any number of the supposedly democratic countries around the world were really democratic they would not have to resort to heavy handed control methods to secure their power.  By so doing they are admitting that they do not really believe in the values they propound.  It is contradictory to suggest that you are representative of the populations views if you have to punitively control their views.  There is nothing wrong with Bradley Manning being charged with a crime and being duly tried and if found guilty sentenced according to the law.  If the population disagree with that law or the penalty then they will make their views known and the situation can change.  But the US administrations knows that they are not running a democracy but rather a facade in order to pacify the rather large population they are trying to control.  The threat that their deception is revealed to a wider public has to be handled rigorously or they will simply not maintain their control.  So their handling of the Bradley Manning case is overtly dictatorial and intimidatory because, in their view, they have no other choice.  The alternative would be to act according to the democratic opinion and that would inevitably have them out of power.

In summary P J Crowley has inadvertently admitted that the US administration is way out of order.  Well said Mr Crowley!

1 comment:

  1. Which suggests that The Dodo (Didus ineptus)may not be extinct after all as The Honest Politician (Muchos Stupidus) is still hanging in there!!!