...all of them needing to face Ivan's question, whether they consciously would be able to accept that their dreams of heaven depend on an eternal inferno of distress for one innocent human being or whether, like Alyosha, they would softly reply: "No, I do not consent."
Allen Dulles, the director of Central Intelligence who planned the Bay of Pigs invasion, was allowed to step down quietly after some period of time and avoided resigning publicly. In the Iran-Contra scandal, National Security Adviser John Poindexter took a dive for covering up illegal conduct, and was later indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States government.
More recently, Les Aspin resigned honorably as President Clinton's Secretary of Defense after Aspin refused to authorize the use of tanks to support a mission in Somalia. Tanks would be too obtrusive, Aspin concluded, and would alienate our allies in the United Nations. The results of his decision were 18 dead American soldiers, two of whom were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu in what has become known as the Black Hawk down incident. Aspin's excessive deference to international opinion got soldiers killed, and cost him his job.
Abu Ghraib is an outrage and a tragedy, but it looks nothing like these precedents for resignation. Most importantly, there was no cover-up. Quite the opposite; the army had been investigating the matter for weeks before the press ran the story. Furthermore, Abu Ghraib was not a policy failure but a very local, site-specific failure of discipline. It did not flow directly from a decision Rumsfeld made, as with Dulles and Aspin.
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