Embarrassed Germans

Did you see today's paper? Charges of Mistreatment of German Draftees Are Investigated , by Richard Bernstein in the NYT. "Particularly embarrassing to the German Army, which was carefully designed to be a sort of model of a civilized and democratic armed force, are comparisons being made between the reported abuses in Germany and the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq." You know our "moral values" are in trouble when the *Germans* are embarrassed that their military abuses will be compared to those of the U.S. at Abu Ghraib.

Of course, Germany is not what it was 60 years ago. Unfortunately, neither is the United States. We seem to have reversed roles.

Also, this appeared on Reuters a day or so ago:
BERLIN (Reuters) - Lawyers acting for a U.S. advocacy group will today file war crimes charges in Germany against senior U.S. administration officials for their alleged role in torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"German law in this area is leading the world," Peter Weiss, Vice President of the New York-based Centre for
Constitutional Rights (CCR), a human rights group, was quoted as saying in Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper's Tuesday edition.

According to the group, German law allows war criminals to be investigated wherever they may be living.

Those to be named in the case to be filed at Germany's Federal Prosecutors Office include Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, former Central Intelligence Agency chief George Tenet and eight other officials.

The group is due to present details of its case at several news conferences on Tuesday, according to invitations faxed to media organisations.


Rumsfeld's twisted history of El Salvador
Mark Engler has done fine work unraveling the extremely twisted history of repression, massacre and terrorism against democratic initiatives in El Salvador in the 1980s -- in Rumsfeld's (and Cheney's) version, the terrorists (Reagan-backed death squads) were the heroes! For some refreshing clarity, read Mark's latest essay in New York Newsday, El Salvador no model for the future of Iraq.


Manufacturing spontaneity
Were you too wondering how the youth protest movement in Ukraine suddenly got so organized? The U.S. State Department et al. have learned some tricks about mobilizing the masses. Check out the story by Ian Traynor in The Guardian, US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev. If only the Pentagon and friends had been so clever about handling regime change in Iraq! There are lessons for us here in the U.S., too, for mobilizing for regime change.

But the Pentagon doesn't do things the State Dept. way; naked force seems to be the only thing they understand, and it's why they keep losing. According to a front page story in the NYT today, Shadow of Vietnam Falls Over Iraq River Raids by John F. Burns, even our Marines patrolling the Euphrates (think of the Mekong) "privately admit to fears that this war could be lost."
Boosting ratings
My cheap ploy of Nov. 25 ("The naked blogger," below) worked! To my great surprise, that day I got 620 hits, as against my daily average (so far in November) of 297. But it's not something I'm willing to repeat; it gets chilly in November. I really should be infusing this blog with content. Right now, my writing time and energy is otherwise occupied right up to Xmas (book & article deadlines). I am going to make a renewed effort to post at least one substantial essay (say, 700 words, like an op-ed) per week after New Year's when we'll be in Spain. Meanwhile, it'll just be little stuff like you see this week. If you find that too boring, I hope you'll come back and look after 3 King's Day (Jan. 6).
Layers of injustice, a filigree of language
Another beautifully written piece by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, this time an op-ed in the NYT, The Line of No Return. She describes the process of "Renewing my American student visa in Lagos, Nigeria, ... a trip through complex layers of injustice." I've praised her writing before: see Another great story from Chimamanda in my blog of 2003/10/09. I haven't yet read her novel, Purple Hibiscus, but plan to soon. Have you? What did you think?