Friday, 15 February 2008

What rules?

Yet another sign of our deteriorating civilization is the reaction to the car bomb death of the Lebanese bad guy Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus. The Israelis snicker and the White House applauds, and there’s not even a flicker of public dissent. So there are no rules, just the murder of one’s enemies anywhere in any way. Islamic Jihad and indeed Mr Mughniyeh himself would certainly approve, in principle.

I remember when using a car bomb on foreign soil was considered shocking, such as in 1975 when the Chilean junta exploded one underneath Orlando Letelier a few blocks from my Washington address. That was NOT DONE in those days. Now it’s cause for a gleeful, frat-boy celebration.

After the Vietnam debacle and its political fifth act known generically as ‘Watergate,’ the country was chastened enough to force the ruling elite to open up their secret archives (a little), pull the FBI back from its interference with dissent and prohibit assassination of foreign leaders. There was even a feeble attempt to rein in the CIA’s worst excesses. Or so we thought.

Now all the rules have changed, and it’s okay to rocket-bomb cars from above, detonate them from below and torture defenseless detainees. Those are the rules our country has set, and many around the world will play by them very merrily. When Americans become the victims—which inevitably will occur—we’ll hear lots of outrage about what’s fair, right and just.

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