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“World Opinion Be Damned !”

“World Opinion Be Damned!”  ARI Press Release dated June 7, 2004, for an article of the same title by Alex Epstein of June 3.

Reviewed here are the ARI press release along with the original article because the press release is less wordy and more organized. Excerpts from the press-release, which quotes Mr. Epstein extensively, are indented without our quote-marks. The press release begins:

In response to international outrage over Abu Ghraib, American politicians and intellectuals have declared that America needs to make a concerted effort to win over “world opinion.”  “In fact,” says Alex Epstein, a writer for the Ayn Rand Institute, “the hypocritical and unjust condemnations of America for Abu Ghraib demonstrate that appeasing ‘world opinion’ is depraved and suicidal.”
Just what is being said here?

1.  Outrage over the U.S. torture in Iraq is hypocritical.
2.  And unjust.
3.  The U.S. behaving otherwise would be depraved.
4.  And suicidal.

Let’s see how Mr. Epstein elaborates these propositions.
“Throughout the Middle East,” observes Epstein, “torture – real torture ... is official policy and daily practice. Yet there are no worldwide condemnations of the dictatorships that practice such atrocities ... . But when a handful of American prison guards subject a handful of Iraqi POWs to comparatively mild humiliation, ‘world opinion’ condemns America.”
Now it is clear. The outrage over Abu Ghraib is hypocritical because it holds America to a higher standard than the Middle East. And in spite of the two battered corpses of Abu Ghraib the torture there was not “real torture.” And it was confined to a handful of people. And neither the U.S. government nor the torturers were the ones humiliated.

In the original article Mr. Epstein says right before “Throughout the Middle East ...” quoted above (emphasis his):

“All of this [world outrage against U.S. torture] evades one blatant truth: the hatred being heaped on America over Abu Ghraib is undeserved.”
And then, as we have seen, he continues with an account of Arab torture, suggesting that because Arabs torture people, nothing is wrong with the U.S. doing it too – as if the Middle East were our standard of what is right.

This reinforces the beginning of Mr. Epstein’s article:

“It is a testament to the perverse priorities of our politicians and journalists that the biggest American outcry over Abu Ghraib has been not about the gruesome decapitation of American Nicholas Berg by terrorists, but about the fact that many Arabs and Europeans are mad at us.”
Mr. Epstein evades the source of that anger: U.S. torture. He pretends that the American outcry is merely over what Arabs and Europeans think, when actually the outcry is over their own government engaging in torture. The killing of Nicholas Berg right after the revelation of Abu Ghraib is nothing compared with the United States turning to such barbarism.  And why bring Berg up, why make the comparison Berg vs. Abu Ghraib? Again Mr. Epstein insinuates that U.S. torture is not so bad, look at what the Arabs do.

The press release continues:

“So-called ‘world opinion’,” explains Epstein, “is not some unanimous and just consensus, but the irrational and unjust opinion of the world’s worst people ...”
World opinion may be varied but why focus on the worst people? Mr. Epstein goes on to list the usual straw-men: Islamic fanatics, socialists, the United Nations. Missing from world opinion are those who love America and hate seeing its people turned into barbarians.

Those responsible for that turning, the neocons, deserve our hatred.

The press release continues quoting Mr. Epstein:

“The proper response to these people [those who express outrage over U.S. torture] is ... to identify them as our ideological and political enemies, to kill and demoralize the violent ones, and to discredit the rest.”
ARI’s perverted reasoning only discredits ARI.

Mr. Epstein then denounces President Bush for not being harder on Muslims, and urges him to destroy “Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian Authority.”

He concludes his article:

“Every attempt to appease ‘world opinion’ preserves and emboldens our enemies. America needs leadership with the honesty and courage to say, ‘Let world opinion be damned ! ’ ”
It’s true that world opinion as such means little. What matters is whether or not that opinion is correct. In the case of U.S. torture, the civilized world – including a big chunk of grassroots America – is absolutely right.