by Michael Dymmoch
Recently, I had an argument with a friend about the relative importance of the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp and the events that occurred at Abu Ghraib. My friend had seen video footage of the beating of a teenage girl by a mob of radical men, and a feature on how suicide bombers are recruited and brainwashed. He believes—if I understand his argument correctly—that in comparison to societies that tolerate or even encourage horrific behavior and de facto genocide, GITMO and Abu Ghraib are irrelevant.
I don’t agree. I think two wrongs never make one right. The behavior of the terrorists who use children as heat-seeking missiles is understandable—if unforgivable. People with nothing have nothing to lose. And if—besides nothing—all they have is their power to destroy those they see as a threat to that power, they’ll use it. I don’t see the phenomenon as any different now than it was when Cro-Magnon Man exterminated the Neanderthals. Absolute power has always been absolutely corrupting. I suspect that in a post-apocalyptic world, techno man—“Homo sapiens”—would be as ruthless as any al-Qaeda operative. Our present state of economic crisis is a clue. As is the fact that the “civilized” United States turned rabid over the 3000 casualties from 9-11, but hasn’t even noticed the 60,000 children killed in this country in the past ten years by fellow citizens with guns, or the 13,000+ people killed annually by drunk drivers.
My friend thinks that GITMO will be virtually forgotten in ten years time. He may be right. But I think that if GITMO doesn’t matter in ten years, if Vietnam doesn’t matter today, what terrorists do in the meantime won’t matter—ever. They’ve already won.
What do you think?