Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Clenched Frist


It would appear that the good Dr. Frist is more concerned about leaks to news organizations than he is about torture that may be going on within U.S.-run prison camps in Eastern Europe: "My concern is with leaks of information that jeopardize your safety and security - period," Frist said. "That is a legitimate concern."

As opposed to, say, illegal confinement without due process, not to mention torture or the violation of international treaties such as the Geneva Convention, or even other nations' prohibitions on illegal detention centers within their boundaries. Those, according to Dr. Frist, are illegitimate, or at least less legitimate, concerns.

Keep in mind, ladies and gentlemen: this is a medical professional speaking; a man who has taken a professional oath to "above all, do no harm."

Maybe the Hippocratic Oath should be more specific, as in, "do no harm—to others." Because it seems as if the good doctor is saying the only harm done by the establishment of a global network of internment camps is when the press does its job and reports the existence of such secret stalags. To the neocon mind, knowledge is not always, as the old saw goes, power. It is only powerful in the right hands or within the right minds; otherwise, it is merely a dangerous distraction—scissors in the hands of a two year old.

One thing I think we have to understand about the mindset of a fellow like Dr. Frist, in the context of his medical background, is that he believes in what I refer to as "geopolitical chemotherapy." Chemotherapy, as most readers will recognize, is that double-edged cancer treatment in the Western medical armamentarium that attacks body cells with a sweeping destructive force, often causing the person to feel sicker than he might have felt from his malignancy. The hope of the medical practitioner delivering chemo is that the treatment will kill all or most of the cancer cells before it destroys the host—the living body of the patient. During treatment, the sufferer will typically go through a living hell of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever, bodyache, infection, skin rash, hair loss, respiratory distress, and immune dysfunction that will leave him susceptible to any passing virus from the common cold to the most deadly flu.

This is how the neocon global physician wages war against the cancer of terror. He turns the entire organism of law, international order, local autonomy, and principles of human rights inside out, in the hope that he will kill a terrorist or two by insidiously attacking the world's immune system, which we call civilization.

The problem with this approach is that it is impractical. I don't want to get onto moral ground here, because to accuse the clenched Frists of this world of immorality is to bang your head against their brick wall. They like being attacked on moral grounds, because they can then build a higher and more entrenched mound of moral rhetoric to stand upon (usually it involves invoking God, Jesus, and the Heavenly Host as sponsors).

So I'd like to focus on the pragmatic aspects of this strategy of geopolitical chemotherapy, and perhaps the freethinking reader will be able to draw her and his moral conclusion from there. The fact is that this form of treatment for the cancer of terrorism is indeed as bad as the disease in its consequences—indeed, it even tends to cause the malignancy to metastasize, that is, migrate from its original position in the organism to other places and in greater numbers. You kill supposed terrorists in Fallujah—often wiping them and their children out with phosphorous bombs that turn living skin into smoking goo ("caramelization" is the technical term, by the way)—and they turn up in greater numbers in Egypt, Bali, London, and Amman. You concentrate all the deadly force of your arsenal on what you believe is the primary tumor, but you miss even that (in our metaphor, the actual primary tumor is somewhat to the north and east of where the medicine of violence is currently being directed). Under the force of this attack, living, innocent cells (women, children, and non-insurgent men) are being destroyed, as the cancerous cells are for the most part able to escape, only to metastasize in distant regions that were previously healthy. In our world, this means that they become more numerous, more widely spread, more difficult to control, and far, far more deadly to innocent people everywhere.

That's where we have gone under the leadership of Doctors Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Frist, and company. That's where we are headed: into a world more ridden with the cancer of terror than it ever was under Saddam (who, in a geopolitical sense, was more of a regional cyst than a global malignancy, after all). Give it another three years, and there will be no place on this Earth that is safe—we are close enough to that already, especially given the war on Nature that has been waged in concert with the war on terror.

So can we afford to wait any longer? Can we afford to hope that Mr. Fitzgerald will eventually overcome legal inertia and executive privilege and deliver the appropriate indictments fit to support articles of impeachment? Can we afford to hold on till the 2006 mid-term elections, hoping for a restoration of sanity to the geopolitical medical establishment in Washington? Can we afford to wait until some new, unforeseen disaster, or a total bottoming out for the Bushies in the polls, estranges the political and legislative base that they have relied upon for five years?

I don't think so.

1 comment:

Tom said...

When obvious wrongdoing is defended, lied about or flat out denied, the objective observer is put into the position of judgment. How else can that observer judge defending use of chemical weapons, torture, or denial of proven accusations but with contempt? Think how hard it is for the allies of the US to watch this and stay an ally, and how much more asinine it must appear to the rest of the world.