PORTSTEWART, NORTHERN IRELAND - Can one be simultaneously amused and profoundly irritated? One can by watching and reading the British media.
British television and the print press have their knickers in a twist over the triple suicide of terrorist suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp in Cuba. Most "reporting" features conclusions and opinion that these men killed themselves out of "desperation" and loss of hope that they would ever get to "tell their stories."
This incident feeds nicely into the British media's line that the United States is evil, President Bush is evil and that the dead terrorist suspects were the moral equivalent of Japanese-Americans interned in the United States during World War II.
Much ink has been spilled denouncing a comment by Rear Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of the camp, who charged that the detainees committed "asymmetrical warfare against us" by taking their lives. Another U.S. official called the suicides a public relations stunt.
In a column for The Times of London, Libby Purves descends to the level of immoral equivalence when she writes, "'our' side can be just as blind." Her comment is about the terrorists and the negligible value they place on human life. I wonder why she put quote marks around "our"? Purves continues, "If we cling to any hope that we are different from murderers, we should not dismiss any human death as a PR stunt."
Apparently, Purves and others in the British media who are conducting a mostly one-sided campaign against the Iraq war and President Bush by interviewing mostly critics of U.S. policy, have not read the al-Qaida playbook or, if they have, don't believe it. The al-Qaida playbook promotes suicide as a warfare strategy. It is not seen as an act of desperation, but as a strategy to undermine Western resolve. The difference between these suicides and the ones regularly seen throughout the Middle East is that in the case of the Guantanamo three, only the bad guys died. In a "normal" suicide, innocent civilians are blown away along with most of the wedding party, cafe patrons, children on a school or public bus, or anyone else the murderers see as valuable to their perverted cause.