Sunday, June 19, 2005

Bits and Pieces

Just a few things that have popped into my head today.

The United States Army's Field Manual FM 34-52 ( states quite clearly that "The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults, or exposure to unpleasant and inhumane treatment of any kind is prohibited by law and is neither authorized nor condoned by the US Government." It further states that it "yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear."
So why do it?
I think that the reason for the abuses we've seen at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and Bagram boil down to two things: racism, and revenge. For the past 20 years we've slowly been conditioned to consider all Arabs (and neighboring ethnicities, such as Persians, Berbers, etc.) to be the collective Enemy Of Everything We Hold Dear, and this perception is fed by a slow infusion of racist ideology designed to demonize them. If you demonize the enemy, you objectify them and that makes it easier to mistreat or kill them with a clean conscience. After Black Tuesday, many Americans wanted to "get revenge" on those vicious animals who didn't think like us, didn't act like us, and quite probably were the Spawn of Satan.
I feel that torture can be actually fun, if done in private between consenting adults - oops, I'm giving too much away, aren't I?
The vicious beating meted out to the National Guardsman from Kentucky at Gitmo was totally reprehensible. There are other, easier ways of extricating a problem detainee from his cell. I speak from experience about this. What we're seeing at the 'detention centers' is torture. Torture condoned by the Department of Defense, torture supported by the Attorney General, torture for people who could be held by us In Perpetuity.
Bush's Big Mouth
George Bush cranked up the rhetoric about Iran's presidential elections, with predictable results. Iran doesn't like us, but was willing to discuss a modus vivendi that would allow a gradual softening of positions, followed by - dare I say it? A reestablishment of ties?
Ah, but this is the Bush White House we're talking about; people there still talk to Manucher Gorbanifar, the biggest jiveass west of anywhere.
One of the problems with sycophancy is that the truth often falls through the cracks. It's still there, but the legion of yes-men you surround yourself with will never tell it to you. Saddam found that out, eventually. I think it was when he appeared on camera, shaken and confused, just before Baghdad fell.
Foreshadowing? I can't tell; my foresight is on the blink, and I haven't touched my Tarot cards lately.
The Death of Discourse
One of the things I've discovered in talking about the Iraq War, the War on Terror, Bush, etc. and one thing becomes apparent.
People are willing to talk To you, but not With you.
As the discussion grows more heated, the points of view grow more extreme and finally calcify there. Ordinarily nice people who dislike abortion become foaming antiliberal maniacs who think that any woman who even thinks that her body is her own responsibility should be sent to Guantanamo, while ordinarily nice people who take issue with Dubya's positions on things become just slightly crazy, to the point of advocating war crimes trials at the Hague (when we have procedures to handle that nicely, thank you).
To quote a wise man, "Can't we all just get along?"


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