Panelists at St. Petersburg in the World include Dennis Jett, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique and Peru under the Clinton Administration and is currently a professor of international affairs at Penn State University. CL asked if he agreed with the premise that the invasion of Iraq and reports on Abu Ghraib set back relations with the Middle East decades, as some critics suggested at the time.
“I was invited by [Donald] Rumsfeld to be on the Board of Visitors on the … School of the Americas and was elected president of that board in its first meeting. When the invasion occurred I sent Rumsfeld my resignation, saying I did not want to associate with an administration that had not exhausted diplomacy before going to war. At the time I had no idea the degree to which they had fabricated and falsified the intelligence they used to justify the invasion. What could they have done differently? They could have not gone to war or at a minimum could have imposed a no fly zone over the entire country or used other forms of military pressure short of a ground invasion. What is interesting is that we have no idea how many innocent civilians died nor do we seem to care. Bush may have killed more Iraqi civilians than Saddam did. But then again we don’t know how many Vietnamese we killed either, so that seems to be a feature of our wars.
“As for torture, it demonstrates American hypocrisy when every year we write a report card on the human rights in every country in the world and then engage in torture, rendition, our secret gulag, etc. because of an exaggerated fear of terrorism. The UN special rapporteur has just called for the UK and the US to release classified reports that were done on the use of torture. That will no doubt be ignored. The Justice Department proved its name is a misnomer when the AG declared no one would be prosecuted for such crimes. Instead he just sent a former CIA officer off to prison for 30 months for the crime of revealing the name of one of the CIA officers that engaged in torture. So what message does that send to the world and to American bureaucrats?”