Monday, July 10, 2006

World: Appalling lack of ethics on the playing field and the battlefield

Even in the (Soccer) World Cup Final, a goal was taken from a fake dive.

For those who don't know Soccer, this means a player pretended he was illegally tackled/assaulted, to get a penalty kick for his side.

Unfortunately, taking a dive has become pervasive at the international level. This practice has effectively been condoned by the national teams and the peak body, FIFA, all the way up to the peak game of the four-year cycle. Serious failings all around. Winning is more important than ethics, and the ethical high ground doesn't count for anything.

Ah, but it's only a game. Isn't it?

In a similar vein, the US is apparently investigating five allegations of atrocities by U.S. military forces in Iraq. The only one yet to reach the headlines involves a group who invaded an Iraqi house specifically to rape a woman, then murder her and her family. And more is yet to come out.

You would thing the Americans would have learnt by now. Wouldn't you?

Abu Ghraib was a severe setback in America's efforts to "win hearts and minds" in Iraq. If they were ever sincere about this goal, they would have instigated major changes in their own army already. "Hearts and minds" was the only way the U.S. could have brought peace to Iraq. Why didn't the U.S. act when the signs were already clear? Culpability goes all the way to the top. (Some might say it goes back down to the people who voted for them. I say that at the very least, this speaks to the moral bankruptcy of the American religious right, the direct source of ethics for the Bush administration.)
Most recent violence in Iraq has been perpetrated by both Sunni and Shi'ite extremists, and that country is definitely on the downward spiral. The U.S. knows how to create a war, but it doesn't seem to be capable of peace.
Australia's Howard government shares in this culpability, through its complicity with the US, and its abnegation in turn of any ethical/moral leadership.

A game. Is it?

Sadly, the ethical position of the players on the ground takes its cue from the leaders. But as individuals, we can take a stand.

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