May I preface what I am about to write, and you read, with my observation that true friendship is best shown when your best mate tells you things you may not like but which are intented to assist, not destroy.
Such is what I am now writing, for tonight, having watched the graphic, shocking and simply destroying newly released photos taken of prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq being beaten, humiliated and killed by the US military broadcast on the Australian SBS televsion network, I am a stunned man.
American readers of this will not have seen them as apparently US papers and TV will not run them – and therein lies the real rub.
In the nation of the United States of America, and one of Australia’s greatest allies (and vice versa), where free speech is enshrined in the Consitution, it seemingly does not, in fact, exist.
Watching them in horror, I was struck by the thought that not only have these people given Bin Laden and all others who hate America (and us with you) an almighty free kick but they also beg the question “are we really any better than Saddam Hussein?”
If I was an Iraqi watching them, I would emphatically say “no” – in fact probably worse, for we came there holding out the promise of better things for them and here we are repeating history.
My late father always told me that you never lowered yourself to other peoples standards- they came up to yours. Well, tonight Uncle Sam got right down there with the dirtiest and lowest of them and I am sure if the late Johnny Cash, one of my real life heroes, had seen them, he also would not have been singing about raising Old Glory!
Many Americans are puzzled why they are so much on the nose around the globe. To answer that, you need look no further than these pictures; George Bush, Sr.’s promise, and then reneging to the marsh Arabs of southern Iraq his support if they overthrew Saddam (a handly little aside that cost many thousands of lives) and duplicity in their handling of the whole Middle Eastern picture.
Having said that, I think there is an enormous amount of decency and goodwill in the bulk of Americans. They just have to awaken from their torpor and start not only asking questions of their leaders but also themselves about where they are heading and why?
As John Kennedy said, “..if you are not part of the answer, you are part of the problem.”
Also it might help if you lobbied your local TV station to have the courage to run those pictures – maybe it might awaken that decency factor again!