On The Torture Debate
Dirty Dick says this ain’t torture!
The growing national debate over torture is revealing some ugly truths about the American national character – which is the true measure of what our values are. The raison d’etre for this commentary is the disturbing results of an AOL poll querying Americans as to whether they think people suspected of being terrorists should be water boarded. Despite the fact that the survey cannot claim the legitimacy of science, I believe it reflects the true feelings of the average American. As I write the count stands at 72% in favor of torture, 20% against and 8% not sure!
The feeling of the majority in this poll also finds vociferous expression in the arguments of leading Republican politicians. Congressman King, a long island “man of the people” who looks and talks like a mobster, is fulminating while making this argument on Face the Nation as I write. His tact is to deny that anybody at the top knew what was going on at places like Abu Ghrab, and that water boarding isn’t torture. But the core ethical stance in his argument is that if torture succeeded in extracting useful information from Arab prisoners it’s all good!
And this argument was advanced ad nauseum on the Tuesday May 18th edition of the Morning Joe Show. First they decided to show Jesse Ventura – a former Navy Seal mind you – talking to the women on The View in which he said if he were the President he would fire everybody who had anything to do with it; including the people who ordered and the people who carried out those orders!
The pervasiveness of this amoral, indeed criminal, point of view must come as a shocking revelation to the intelligent contingent of the American Exceptionalist; like McArthur Fellow and Daily News Columnist Stanley Crouch – who passionately declared “that’s just not us!” when the grisly pictures of US troops torturing prisoners at Abu Ghrab prison in Iraq Surfaced. For apologists like Crouch, who refuse to face the facts about American policies in the world, Abu Ghrab could only be explained by the fact that poor ignorant white trash was responsible for the crimes committed there.
It is the same sort of bogus argument as that which Jefferson scholars employed for many years: Only white trash like overseer’s slept with black slave women; certainly not a grand principled gentleman like Thomas Jefferson – the brightest of the Founding Fathers. After all these people were natural aristocrats. And crouch for instance has written very flattering about aristocrats. But I share the views of the great Afro-American Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar as expressed in his poem: “I Never Believed in Aristocrats.”
For the American Exceptionalists such atrocities could never be the policy of the US, whose role in the world is one of nobless oblige, and the best hope for freedom and justice to prevail on this planet resides in a Pax-Americana, a unipolar world under American domination. This is certainly the view of the world promoted by the Neo-Con ideologues whose kooky dreams of American suzerainty over the planet were hatched in the far right think tank The Project for a New American Century.
Having read their position papers ad nauseum, the mess these people made after they were recruited into the highest levels of the national security establishment, the misbegotten war in Iraq – a criminal aggression under international law – comes as no surprise. It was the logical extension of their view of the world. And the 9/11 attack gave them the juice they needed to take over American Foreign policy. It is this relationship between 9/11 and the subsequent policies of the Bush Administration that fuels the conspiracy theorists who believe the Bushmen organized the attacks of 9/11.
What really happened is that in the passion and madness that followed Al Qaeda’s assault on the US homeland Clueless George fell under the spell of tough talking neo-con men peddling a grandiose but deeply flawed vision of a Pax-Americana based on America’s ability to project massive military force anywhere in the world. That’s where Rumsfeld’s theories about creating slimmer, faster, military force were hatched. And that’s where the disastrous decision into invade Iraq came from.
That’s also where Dirty Dick Cheney decided that we could scrap the rules of the Geneva Convention and engage in torture because none in the world could chastise us. It is the ultimate expression of the bogus ideology of American Exceptionalism. But what is beyond question in all this is that water boarding is torture and thus violates the Geneva Convention which our government signed as was a major advocate of. Those who argue otherwise are either fools or charlatans.
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