Thursday, May 06, 2004

Lack of Correlation Between "Apology," "Abu Ghraib," and "President Bush"


Some scholars have hypothesized a correlation between the notion of being sorry, and the public revelation of criminal behavior.  To test this hypothesis, we conducted a survey of over 70,000 websites to see if these concepts are, in fact, related to any significant degree.  To minimize the risk of a type I error, we selected a topic that is completely beyond controversy: the human rights violations at Abu Ghraib.  Our statistician was not willing to analyze the data, claiming that to do so could threaten the generous tax breaks  available in Florida.  Thus, we could not calculate a correlation coefficient.  For that reason, the traditional Mark I eyeball was employed for data analysis. 

<irony> What we find is that there does appear to be a correlation between apology and Bush, except when it comes to Abu Ghraib.  For some reason, those three concepts just don't go together. </irony>



Next, we looked at a related topic: shame.  Mr. Bush informed us that the atrocities at Abu Ghraib were "shameless."  Merriam-Webster Online defines "shameless" as follows: having no shame : insensible to disgrace.

I think he meant "shameful."

It really does not make any sense to refer to an event or an inanimate object as "shameless;"
people  either have shame or they do not.  Events don't feel anything, so they cannot feel shame. 

This peculiar choice of words led me to worry that Mr. Bush might be "insensible to disgrace."  That would be bad, because a lack of remorse is a sign of

<sarcasm> Fortunately, a quick search of the 'net shows a strong correlation between shame and President Bush.  I guess we don't have to worry that our President might be a sociopath.  </sacrasm>


Seriously, Mr. Bush has made an error in handling what could be the death knell fro his reelection hopes.  He did not apologize for what happened at Abu Ghraib.  In a recent Slate article, Fred Kaplan wrote:

    Why Bush Didn't Apologize
    In his Arab TV interviews, the president refused to say the words Iraqis needed to hear: I'm sorry.
    By Fred Kaplan
    Updated Wednesday, May 5, 2004, at 3:09 PM PT

[...] It seems the president is allergic not just to the words but to the concept of responsibility that underlies them. To apologize would be to admit he'd made a mistake. And mistakes are forbidden in the Bush White House.

His resistance is particularly unfortunate here. An Iraqi who watched the two American generals apologize, and then watched the American president fail to, would certainly notice the difference -- and might, understandably, wonder about the officers' significance and sincerity.

It is not just the press that's hung up on the S word. It has been claimed that Arabs like to hear it from those who have done wrong, but my guess is this would be true of any people who had been senselessly humiliated by the world's superpower. Adnan Pachachi, a leading member of the Iraqi governing council, politely hemmed and hawed when CNN asked him this afternoon about Bush's silence on the matter, but finally he replied, "An apology would have been useful." [...]

The reason this is a mistake is that Mr. Bush will have to see to it that punishments are meted out.  And it will not be sufficient to punish just those who were directly involved in the atrocities.  There will be calls for some officers to be punished.  Of course, the officer in charge of it all is the Commander-in-Chief.  How is he going to explain that some officers should be punished, but not the one who set into motion the entire chain of events that led up to the crimes?

One could argue that there is no way that Mr. Bush could have know that these crimes would occur.  I think that even the most fervent anti-Bush USA citizen would acknowledge that Mr. Bush did not know about the events until it was too late. 

On the other hand, Mr. Bush did have a lot of time to plan for the occupation of Iraq.  Recall that the very first National Security Council meeting, on February 1, 2001 included a
discussion of the "Political-Military Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq."  So he cannot claim that he did not have time to plan fully for the occupation.  He must have known that there would be prisons, and he must have known that the way those prisoners would be treated would be subject to scrutiny.

Was there any way to anticipate that atrocities might occur in US-led prisons in Iraq?  Of course.  Atrocities occur in US-led prisons in the
United States of America.  I am referring to US citizens abusing their own countrymen.  If this happens in the USA, certainly it is reasonable to assume that it could happen in Iraq.

This opens up a whole rat's nest for Mr. Bush.  He wants to have the unprecedented right to detain prisoners indefinitely, without trial, and without access to counsel.  This has been controverted intensively.  Now that we have reason to doubt that persons will be treated humanely under such circumstances, how can anyone think that it would be a good idea to give him such power?