Word of the day is "Gulag".

I ran across the word while reading an article from the New York Times - U.S. to Respond to Inquiries Over Detentions in Europe.
The mood in Europe is one of increasing concern over what people call the American 'gulag' and the reports of all these stopovers in Europe for prisoners.
I felt like someone just called me names but I don't even know what the name means. What is Gulag? It turns out it is a Russian acronym.

Gulag means Главное Управление Исправительно— Трудовых Лагерей и колоний. Phonicly it is Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-trudovykh Lagerey i kolonii, which shortens to Glavnoye Upravleniye Lagerey, meaning Main Camp Administration.

That doesn't sound too bad, they are calling us administrators of camps - except these camps are concentration camps. These words means forced labor camps and sometimes even used to describe nazi concentration camps.
...the word "Gulag" has also come to signify not only the administration of the concentration camps but also the system of Soviet slave labor itself, in all its forms and varieties: labor camps, punishment camps, criminal and political camps, women's camps, children's camps, transit camps. Even more broadly, "Gulag" has come to mean the Soviet repressive system itself, the set of procedures that prisoners once called the "meat-grinder": the arrests, the interrogations, the transport in unheated cattle cars, the forced labor, the destruction of families, the years spent in exile, the early and unnecessary deaths.
My first reaction was, "What the hell? This is what Europe think of us?" My second reaction was, "What the hell?!" My third reaction was, "It is too early for this, I need another cup of tea."

After my cup of tea and a couple hours to think it through. I realize Europe has a point. From the first, United Nation has asked US to not hastily invade Iraq and to wait for proof of weapon of mass destruction. Did we wait? no we did not. We formed something called "Coalition of the willing" which composed of only 38 countries. 90% of the troops are supplied by US and Britan, making this "Coalition" the butt of jokes around the world.

Many of the nations in the coalition formed for the 2003 invasion of Iraq stand to receive substantial aid packages and trade benefits from the United States in return for their support. In fact, this coaliation is more commonly refered to as COW - refering to the fact that US is being milked. Another common name is "Coaliation of the Welfare-States", due to the high percentage of states that were small, impoverished nations in need of United States financial aid.

Then after the invasion we sheepishly tell the world there is no weapon of mass desturction. Instead, we gallently offer to rebuild the war wrecked nation in return for Iraq oil. Can you blame Europe for being suspicious of our motive?

Then news broke out on two years of disclosures about American treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Which wasn't pretty. It is hard to claim human treatment when detainee commits suicide. It is also hard to ignore since the jail keepers took pictures of themselves abusing the prisoner. However, the term Gulag was not wide spread yet. It is still just a tiny thought in the back of people's mind. The only one really voicing its concern was Amnesty International. AI is the first one to use the word Gulag on May 25, 2005 refering to the detention center as "gulag of our times".

Then news broke out about Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Another round of denial. US doesn't abuse prisoners. We stand for freedom. We are the voice of democracy. I believed them. What else can I do? I believe them. Sometimes I wish I had cast my vote for John Kerry even though my one vote wouldn't have mattered. My vote would be registered in Illinois and Kerry won the state of Illinois. Yet still, sometimes I felt guity about the way things turns out. Casting that vote would have made me felt less guilty, less like I just stood by and let Bush took over.

In the end, if the government tells me without blinking that no toture took place, I would believe them. Damn logic and reason, this is my country. That is why I ignored the news report that Bush wanted to bomb the free news organization Al Jazeera and only talked out of it by Tony Blair. A news organization that is simply doing its job, reporting the war, risking their lives along with US soldiers. I didn't even blog the story. It simply can't be true. Nevermind that the British government chose to use Official Secrets Act for the first time ever on media organizations to gag the story. Nevermind the two eye witness. Just look at President Bush - does he look like an aggressive person capable of saying and acting on such brutality? The man can't even string sentences together, he can't possibly be capable of saying these words. A word is even coined over the way he talks - Bushism.
  • "We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job." -- Gulfport, Miss., Sept. 20, 2005.
  • "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
  • “Wow! Brazil is big.”, after being shown a map of Brazil by President Lula da Silva. November 7, 2005
  • "The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the — the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Oct. 27, 2003
  • "[W]e've had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I've spoken out consistently against them, and I want to know who the leakers are." —George W. Bush, Chicago, Sept. 30, 2003
Now does this sound like a man capable of aggression? I think not.

Then the story about secret CIA prisons located all over the world broke out. Which brings us a full circle back to today. The word gulug is not just whispered in the world. It is being used everywhere outside United States. I sit here with a head-ache and my cup of tea. I can't blame Europe for using that word - despite all the connotations and negative implication. After all, if something looks like human excrement and smells like human dropping, it is more than likly human feces.


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