The liberal media's reaction to reports of widespread abuse and torture of Iraqi detainees by US and UK military personnal marks a psychological turning point in the current phase in the sole superpower's war for total global domination.
Recent interventions have been justified in one way or another by our moral superiority, our more advanced, more humane form of civilisation, our crusade to spread democracy and liberal values. Whatever the crimes committed by high-tech weapons systems, whatever the abuses carried out at Guantanamo Bay, whatever the evidence of CIA-funding for the KLA or Al Qaeda, whatever the flaws in the allegations made against the former Yugoslav government, Britain - we were told - represented a beacon of justice and fairness.
No sooner had our brave service men and women liberated a new territory, the liberal media progressed to stage two, reconstruction via international bank loans and rehabilitation via NGOs. British experts would be sent all over the globe to teach our enlightened ways to people accustomed for so long to only dictatorships (with whom we used to do business). Thus for paid intellectuals like Johann Hari of the Independent or David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen of the Guardian, new military adventures provided a new opportunity to spread our values.
Wouldn't it just be wonderful if the whole world became a multi-hued mosaic of dominant post-1980s Anglo-American culture? Sure McDonalds would localise its burgers for the Mid East market, MTV would broadcast some Arabic rap, juicier scenes from Hollywood movies would be edited out and people would speak English with different accents and continue to learn local dialects for a couple more generations. But rest assured your Lonely Planet Guide to Iraq will feature an extensive list of gay nightclubs in downtown Baghdad. Okay Iraqis may have more traditional values now, but given time greater exposure to our benign media will usher in a new era of carefree hedonism.
US and UK crimes could easily be brushed aside by stressing the repressive nature of all local or nationalist alternatives. So pundits would opine that we need to stay the course in Iraq to stop Islamic extremists or Saddam Loyalists from (re)gaining power. Democracy has only one meaning: A pacified electorate happy to vote for responsible politicians who collaborate fully with the international community as defined by the Coalition.
To understand the chasm emerging within our ruling elite witness yesterday's Scottish Daily Record and UK Daily Express - not a word about US and UK crimes, just a page two article about Moqtaba Al-Sadr's threat to use captured female British soldiers as slaves. Then read the liberal press. The underlying message is Abu Ghraib represents a setback for the spread of our civilisation, very bad PR. Now the damage has been done, a section of the ruling elite, the same opinion-makers who campaigned passionately for humanitarian wars, want our troops out. But the die has already been cast. Withdrawal will leave the US in a significantly weaker position in the Middle East than it enjoyed in February 2003. Whether or not, US and UK armed forces retreat strategically, their dependence on near absolute control of the world's oil reserves is so great that they will just seek new and devious means.
It's time the left gatekeepers, as some call the likes of Greg Palast (who thinks the Beeb allows objective reporting), started challenging assumptions about our moral superiority and start publicly admitting rather than merely implying the real motivations for war. Torture and violence are not unAmerican any more than they are unChinese or unArabic. They are classic tools of conquest. As Madeleine Albright said "We will act multilaterally when we can, unilaterally when we must."
Let's paraphrase that: We will act by gentle persuasion where we can and by physical coercion and advanced brainwashing techniques where we must. What the liberal media is telling us is that the era of gentle persuasion is nearing its end.