Now it looks like an extra group of Dutch Special Forces may not be bound for Afghanistan to deal with terrorists because of the Bush administration's unwillingness to be clear about the rules by which the GWOT is fought. Secretary Ben Bot of Foreign Affairs made the following statements about the alleged secret prisons in former Eastern Europe:
"The United States must not play hide-and-seek. Sooner or later, it will come out anyway," said Bot on the EU's request for clarification on the alleged CIA prisons. Bot also said the Americans "have sought out the boundaries" of what is permissible in the fight against terrorism."
Secretary Ben Bot is a weasel (i.e. a diplomat) and I don't like him at all. But he does have a point. If there is nothing going on, why hasn't the Bush administration offered a staunch denial of the existence of such prisons?
The Bush administration has even managed to irritate the VVD. This is exceptional, for the conservative VVD is very much a pro-American party. What struck me was the harsh language that was used by MP Hans van Baalen, normally an ardent supporter of the United States and a proponent of the war against Iraq (for the record, so was I):
"The VVD supports the United States, but this support can be lost. (...) Even terrorists have rights, even though we condemn their actions. (...) The war against terrorism can only be won from a position of moral superiority, and that will be lost if we have to condemn our own actions."
I tend to agree. We play this game by sticking to the rules (rules which, by the way, we made ourselves). Either that, or calls for a time-out are warranted, if not to follow through on those calls, then to make sure the West is united in upholding similar moral values. After all, it was the United States that took great strides towards universal human values by encouraging human rights, first by cooperating with other countries in the United Nations to get the UDHR adopted, then through the Helsinki Accords.
This legacy must not be lost or even tarnished. And if it takes some harsh words of a proud friend of the United States to keep its current administration from forgetting the end by being uncritical about the means, so be it.