Adam Ash

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

US Diary: a year of ironies

The Top 10 Bitterest Ironies of 2005 -- by Gary Alan Scott

1. Fiddling While Rome Burns (Black and White Version):
How bitterly ironic was it to see George W. Bush doing everything he could to act like the commander-in-chief who was determined to be all over Hurricane Rita (which struck his home state of Texas) after being non compos mentis and Missing in Action when the residents of New Orleans (mostly poor and black) were awash in suffering after Katrina. Where were those Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard troops hired to defend their states, I wonder?

2. Burnt Flesh:
How bitterly ironic was it that the U.S. military ultimately acknowledged that it used the very same chemical weapon (white phosphorous) on civilians during the November, 2004 attack on Fallujah that Saddam Hussein used (when he had chemical weapons supplied by the U.S.) on the Kurds to put down the uprising in Kurdistan in 1991.

3. Saddam and Sadism:
How bitterly ironic is it that the U.S. used former Soviet Gulags, Saddam's torture chambers, and a string of "black sites", such as Poland, Romania, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to carry out torture on detained "suspects," only a few of whom have ever been charged, much less convicted, of anything.

4. Bush and Rove Don't Know Jack:
How ironic was it that Bush and his "Brain" neither of whom served in combat) would attempt to smear one of the most decorated veterans in Congress, Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) for suggesting that the U.S. should pull out of Iraq sooner than later, because a military victory is not possible and the blowback from Iraq is only bound to increase our risk of future terrorism rather than abating it?

5. Reverse Robin Hoodism:
How ironic was it to see the Congress cutting $50 billion in programs for the poor in order to redistribute yet another $70 billion to the richest Americans. Now that's keeping the Christ in Christmas, isn't it? As Robert Reich pointed out in a recent column, the religious right fights tooth-and-nail against Darwinism while it embraces a far more perverse doctrine, "social Darwinism," (which was the brainchild of Herbert Spencer) to justify its economic redistribution from the poor to the rich. For the record, Charles Darwin was buried in Westminster Abbey, so the church fathers then were more enlightened than the likes of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson.

6. So Many Children Left Behind:
How ironic is it that the U.S. is one of only two countries which have not signed the treaty on the rights of the child (the other being Somalia!) Oh, the company we keep! And not only do we execute the more of its citizens than any country on the planet, but we execute minors and mentally handicapped people. Our infant mortality rate ranks 24th out of 29 developed nations.

7. Barbarians at the Gate:
How ironic is it that more than 1,000 Americans have been executed since the restoration of the death penalty in ____? Perhaps even more ironic still is the recent polls showing that about the same percentage of the population believes that torture is justified as those who support the death penalty. And many of these supporters claim to be Christians. The commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" carries no footnotes in my Bible. And the Gubernator greeted a clear case of redemption with vengeance. Here again, the U.S. is in a very small circle of friends who still execute other human beings (whether or not they're guilty) that includes only China, Vietnam, and Iran. 97% of all executions occur in these four countries. Oh what faith supporters of the death penalty have in the infallibility of government, the legal system, despite all of the counter-evidence.

8. Sometimes a Suspect is Just a Suspect:
How bitterly ironic is it that after almost four years in the limbo of being disappeared, the U.S. government finally released Jose Padilla. We are reported to be still holding between 13,000 and 17,500 detainees in Iraq, approximately 400 in Guantanamo, and who knows how many others in Afghanistan or by third-party countries we use to outsource torture. When interrogations are not designed to produce evidence for use in a legal case, then torture is simply terrorism. One wonders whether the reason the many detainees are not being released is because they may very well tell their stories and expose the lawlessness of U.S. policies and practices.

9. Torturous Times:
How bitterly ironic was it that George W. Bush (or his dim-witted handlers) chose Panama for the site of Bush's claim that "We do not torture?" That the School of the Americas (widely known as the School of Assassins or the School for Torture) was located in Panama from 1946 to 1984, prior to moving to Ft. Benning, Georgia. The National Security Archives are teeming with reports of atrocities committed by the graduates of the SOA. Nice venue, Dubya. Must have made Daddy proud.

10. Déjà Vu All Over Again:
How bitterly ironic is it that the Bush Administration bottled up the release (until the 2004 election had concluded) of documents showing that the pretext for the Vietnam War was faked and hyped just like the Iraq war. Indeed, there was no aggression by the North Vietnamese against U.S. vessels in the international waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. And now we learn that King George has defied the law and dusted off Nixonian tactics for spying on U.S. citizens. If the country had known either of these things prior to the 2004 election, Dubya might have been able to take an even longer vacation at the ranch, after all that hard work of being President!

(Dr. Gary Alan Scott is a philosophy professor at Loyola College in Maryland. He is currently the Director of Loyola's International Nachbahr Huis in Leuven, Belgium. You can email him at


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