Thursday, May 24, 2007

Circular thinking

I've always been amused by a silly little joke about a road worker erecting a pile of rocks in the middle of a street and placing a red warning lamp on top.

Passerby [to road worker]: "Why have put that pile of rocks in the middle of the street?"

Road worker: "To support the flashing red lamp."

Passerby: "And why have you put a flashing red lamp in the middle of the street?"

Road worker: "To let people know there's a pile of rocks there."

George W Bush is reasoning in this absurd circular way about the situation in Iraq. He invaded the country because invalid intelligence (lies) caused him to believe that Osama bin Laden might be intent upon transforming Iraq into a terrorist haven enabling Al Qaeda to prepare attacks against the United States. Today, Bush acknowledges that Iraq has indeed been transformed into a terrorist haven, and he now argues that this is a justification for pursuing the war.

While it would be asking too much to suppose that the intellectual capacities of Dubya might enable him to recognize the existence of circular thinking, other smart observers see things this way. The New York Times quotes Richard A Clarke, former presidential security adviser, as saying: “One day, Bush tells us we are fighting in Iraq so that terrorists won’t come here [to the US]. Then he releases intelligence that says terrorists trained in Iraq are coming here. Which is it?” The New York Times also quotes Thomas Sanderson, terrorism specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as declaring: “We created the biggest terrorism training ground known, which is Iraq.

Meanwhile, at a press conference in London yesterday, Irene Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International, launched their 2007 report. Basing her speech upon a central theme that she called "the politics of fear", Irene Khan said:

"Five years after 9/11, new evidence came to light in 2006 of the way in which the US administration treated the world as one giant battlefield for its 'war on terror', kidnapping, arresting, arbitrarily detaining, torturing and transferring suspects from one secret prison to another across the world with impunity, in what the US termed 'extraordinary renditions'. Nothing more aptly portrayed the globalization of human rights violations than the US-led 'war on terror' and its program of 'extraordinary renditions' which implicated governments in countries as far apart as Italy and Pakistan, Germany and Kenya. Ill-conceived counter-terrorism strategies have done little to reduce the threat of violence or ensure justice for victims of terrorism but much to damage human rights and the rule of law globally."

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