Alas, the US seems to be deliberately holding some Iraqi women to prove a point. At the cost of Jill Carroll's life. [via] Heres the CSmonitor update....
Singer argues: If one of President Bush's daughters were in a similar situation, do we believe he would not be thinking about whether to meet the demands? Indeed, wouldn't we think worse of him as a human being if he did not?
Admittedly, the duties of a president may override the duties of a father. The leader of a nation sometimes has to stand firm, and he may even be required to sacrifice his children for the good of the nation. But of course that would be a last resort and should not be done unless the stakes are truly momentous. Are the stakes that momentous in this case? They don't seem to be.
The kidnapper's demands, if indeed they are limited to the release of the five female prisoners being held by the military in Iraq, seem relatively modest, a small price to pay for saving the life of a young woman.
As far as we know, none of these female prisoners is a significant insurgent leader or someone whose release would pose a major threat. What's more, the U.S. released five other women on Jan. 26 (although it was careful to say that the release had nothing to do with the kidnappers' demands).
A spokesperson said the U.S. military and the Iraqi government had "processed the women's cases according to normal procedures and determined they did not need to be held any longer." Perhaps if the proceedings on the remaining five cases were accelerated, it might turn out that they do not need to be held any longer either. It would be a terrible irony if that conclusion were reached after Carroll had been executed.
It is not obvious to me that it would be wrong to release the female prisoners. It may well be the right thing to do, quite independently of the pressing moral requirement that we do everything possible to save Carroll's life.
But then, I don't know enough about the grounds on which these women are being held. The Bush administration could at least tell us that. Then we could begin to have an informed debate on what we should do. But as Carroll has said, we need to do it fast.