Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Don't Look Now, But Your Face Is Swelling

George W. Bush brought about the deaths of over 100,000 Iraqis; he displaced four million more besides. In the end, they hanged Saddam Hussein and gave Bush $100 million to build a library.

That happens when one man is seen to win a war, and the other is deposed. Winners of wars, no matter how criminal they may be, are rarely called “criminals”, and are never prosecuted for the crimes. Only the losers are rounded up, tried and punished.

But for winners—those who lorded over places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo—history has its own store, replete with shelves full of crimes that never go away. There, the courts that legislate executions are silent. People do the talking; children learn of atrocities committed by their leaders. And the stigma of “war criminal” attaches itself unshakably to those who thought they had gotten away.

The other day, a group of college students cornered Condoleeza Rice and grilled her about the Bush administrations penchant for torture. Even as she struggled to defend herself, her face literally swelled—a sure sign her punishment had begun.

This past week, even as Afghanistan’s President Karzai sat in Washington D.C. with our Obama, American planes were raining bombs on Afghan civilians. According to Karzai, over 125 men, women, and children were killed. “This must stop!” he said to Obama. “Regrettable” is one of the words Obama sounded in response.

A man as careful as President Obama is always on guard against the appearance of impropriety. Yet, he commands these atrocities as though no one can see. Does he truly believe it is enough to say, “We had ‘actionable intelligence’ that there were militants in that hut.”? So you blow up a family of ten to kill two “possible” militants?

Any man—including our president—should spend 100 years in jail for each child he blows to bits; if not “in jail”, then certainly in hell. Those must be the stakes.

There is no law on Earth that can protect a man against the murder of a child…none. If this is the best our president can, then it is time he scrapped his AFPAK policy and come home (before he sorely wishes he had.)

One day, Barack Obama’s face will swell at the mention of his crimes, and he will plead futilely against the weight of history. Inevitably, his cries and his legacy will be drowned in his acts.

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