It's hard to imagine that the patriotic denial of national guilt is stronger anywhere in the world than in the USA now, esp. relative to the ostensible level freedom of speech we're suppose to have here. And esp. considering that we could just be getting started with this neo-imperialist shit. This is something traditional that happens in all countries with power, because patriotism, along with it's sibling, religion, are the primary ways leaders switch off the critical thought of the population in order to exploit them, and to use them to exploit others. (my thoughts return to the obvious again!) So it's been for 2000 years with empires, but I do think the USA has cornered the market!
Our corporate media broker state apparatus themselves broadcast these picture of war crimes day after day and Bush's approval ratings stay the same. Rumsfeld's defense is basically that war crimes are no big deal, and people should shut up about it -- he should be able to do as he pleases without the interference of "the world" knowing what he's doing. As if we could hide the meaning of our actions from anyone except ourselves!
There must obviously be guilt in the population (of the paralyzing variety not of the "okay now how are we going to make it right" variety), but it goes with an equal helping of denial. Paralyzed /unprocessed guilt and denial, those are two great American tastes that go great together. The current leaders are clearly beyond the reach of guilt feelings -- these people are expressions of narcissistic tendencies so extreme that guilt is no longer a possibility.
Our guilt about the history within the USA, which is about genocide against Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans, and the cast system and repression of our underclass, all operate here in a strong but deeply sublimated domestic guilt/denial system. The powers of denial here are ten times stronger than the powers of guilt as conscience. In the USA, morality operates as an opinion you have about others, it's not something you would apply to what you actually do, or to what "your country" does.
Americans, on the surface, are infantile in their understanding of what it's leaders are doing and why. We look for images of fathers in a president, trust our government, and we "get mad" at people in other countries when they "don't like us." That's how many Americans think. We're not stupid. This is a tactical suppression of intelligence.
American guilt is a guilt that makes us more violent. We think -- what if somebody tried to do this shit to US? We'd want to kill them and torture them. So then we have to be more violently repressive towards them because we're afraid they would want to kill us as much as we'd want to kill them in the same circumstances. That's how the real white guilt works.
It seems that only in academia is historical guilt allowed to be a topic of conversation for extended periods. Because it is contained there, like a protest march route set by the NYPD is contained. When Goering has his own show on Fox the topic is not going to be historical guilt. "You're just having white guilt" means shut up. It's a reactionary statement. I have to admit, though, that saying "we are all complicit " and just leaving it at is a drag and rings false. If it's not elaborated on it can come off as saying "please watch me wringing my hands."
The guilt incurred through imperial repression of other countries is not quite on the mental radar of Americans yet , though I think we project our domestic guilt onto foreign others. The Abu Ghraib prison pictures are reminiscent of American lynching photography. Think of the treatment of Aber Louima got in jail after being falsely arrested in New York City.
Will these fragmented country/ gulag zones be allowed to flourish? Will they grow? The pictures show a tiny sliver of what's going on over there. They also show just a tiny lighted corner compared to a lot of the things we know about foreign policy/CIA/MI history and what it was done over the past 50. America has been such a quick learner. We were able to learn so much from the Nazis and their innovative ideas about counter-insurgency, and to make sure that that Nazi culture didn't die out, didn't go to waste after WWII.
When Rumsfeld was questioned on the armed services committee was very angry about digital photography, and how easy it is to distribute. He was complaining about this when he was being questioned about why 60 minutes was asked not to show the pictures. This was his main concern.
Funny, I remember all these newspaper articles about the digitizing of photography when it was just starting years ago, how it would mean that no one will be able to believe media or history anymore. Looks like it (combined with networking of computers) is going to have the opposite effect. Information leakage may be a lot harder to contain than the Bush team thought. You can bet they will now redouble their effort to control it now.