Friday, April 06, 2007

Depressing, but not surprising

Those British soldiers who were taken hostage by Iran were "blindfolded, handcuffed," stripped, bound, made to believe they were about to be executed, tormented, and "subjected to 'constant psychological pressure' which Lt Carman described as amounting to 'torture'." You don't expect much better from Iran, but it's still nauseating and depressing, isn't it? Are the Geneva Conventions just a thing of the past? Is there any way to enforce them?


The Pagan Temple said...

Yes, there is a way. Make it clear to all nations that any who do not abide by them can nor should expect any better from us. The Geneva Conventions are a joke anyway, no one but a handful of nations takes them as much as half way serious.

And they, including us, bend them when it's convenient to do so, the only thing they are meant for is PR to ensure enlistment levels are maintained and to relieve anxieties of military families and other concerned parties. Ask John McCain how well they work in reality.

This is one of those topics the effect of which on me can best be described by the post you did which is the second one before this one.

Rufus said...

There's got to be somebody who has the right to demand the Geneva Conventions be upheld, but it sure isn't us, or the Brits for that matter. And as for them being a joke, there are generations of servicemen who would beg to differ with that. We used to take them very seriously, even if the Vietcong didn't. Hell, we didn't even torture the Nazis, for Christ's sake. My Grandfather still brags about sharing a cigarette with a captured Japanese soldier. Maybe there were some soldiers who were imperfect- but as a nation, we took those standards seriously. But, that was "before 911" after all, or at least, before the cynicism of the war without end. Now, we're fucked. And the really lousy thing is, as bad as the Iranians have been, they apparently treat their captives better than we do.

I know you probably think this is all a bunch of bleeding-heart horseshit, but I swear to God- these people have ripped the heart out of a country that I love, and I don't think that's really become clear yet. This war can't go on forever, and someday we have to return to some measure of civilization. At some point, we have to rise above the level of these mutants that we're fighting against. We have to have some levels of civilized behavior that we take seriously.

The Pagan Temple said...

I don't question your sincerity in promoting them, sorry if you got that impression. I just wonder what good they are when the "mutants", as you say, have no regard for them. Also, I am sorry, but I just don't think it's as bad as it's been reported in the MSM. All this ridiculous crap about flushing the Qu'ran down the toilet, and all the other malarkey that's reported.

Sure,I have no doubt there have been abuses, but as you yourself intimated, there have always been a few bad eggs, so to speak, since way before now. I refuse to believe that our soldiers today-on average, mind you-are the brutal thugs a lot of the world likes to portray them by using a few examples like Abu Ghraib.

Your grandfather was a good man who wanted to extend a kindness to a fellow human being. There are plenty of soldiers today that do the same thing, but they seldom get a mention, after all, who cares when a bunch of grunts walk around passing out candy and toys to little Iraqi kids.

I don't believe in torture either, by the way, though if somebody has some information on some atrocity that's about to be committed I could forgive a few fingernails being ripped out. But that's neither here nor there, I just don't believe it happens without good reason,for the most part, though I'm sure there are some exceptions to that rule too, as I said.

As for who would enforce them, thats just the problem. The main people wanting to enforce them are the same people that are wanting to politicize the war for the purpose of defeating Bush. That's why I distrust all the so-called "evidence" of prisoner abuse. A lot of it is just politically calculated.

Besides, how bad can it be when Muslims at Gitmo are fed halal meals,given Qu'rans, afforded exercise and reading privileges, their prayer times are respected, etc.

I understand there are probably some bad things that have happened,maybe some of them shouldn't be there-maybe-but on the whole I would rather be one of them in Gitmo as one of us getting my head hacked off on YouTube with a dull blade.

Rufus said...

Okay, first off, when people say "I don't believe the MSM" nine times out of ten they follow that by unquestioningly quoting the right wing blogosphere.

Secondly, I'm not talking about flushing the Koran- this is what we call a canard- right wingers bring this up, or make some crack about "panties on the head" in order to end the discussion. In fact, I would say it's a bit unfair to assume that what I consider to be torture is whatever banal "fraternity prank" Rush Limbaugh claims "liberals are whining about".

Okay, so how many people have been killed during questioning in US military custody so far? Well, so far, the military has ruled 26 of the nearly 100 suspicious deaths to be homicides. Of course, part of the problem is those jails for which there is no transparency and which the military won't even acknowledge the existence of. If you believe the story isn't going to get worse, well... I hope you're right.

And the problem isn't the few bad apples- another popular canard, incidentally- it's:
1. A number of practices that have traditionally been considered torture were mandated from above.
2. There was a pattern of vague sorts of directives being issued- things like "get the information from these guys however you can" from people in command.
3. The people in command who have called for these things have subsequently thrown those soldiers under the bus who have been caught doing them.
4. Of course, we also can't forget the trend of sending our prisoners to other countries to be tortured.

Most frustrating, at least for me, has been how many of these people are subsequently cleared of all charges and sent home. Again, the lesson of the French war in Algeria really was never, never, fucking never. Because the problem is that you might scare a few bad guys with torture, but you also turn the civilians against you.

And this is the biggest problem for me. I mean, the difference between an attrocity like the My Lai Massacre and this is that here we're gaining a reputation around the world for being a torturing nation. No serious person expects that the military will never have to deal with attrocities, but it's possible to expect the higher ups to be the voice of reason in the field of battle.

And, of course, there are some people who deeply and irrationally hate Bush. By the same token, there are plenty of people who use the Bush-haters as an excuse for their own utter complacency towards power. And again this just sounds like a cop out to me- I've gone on record time after time after time as believing that Bill Clinton's handling of Rwanda constitutes a crime against humanity. So, please don't lump me in with the DNC.

Lastly, nobody questions that the mutants have done things that are far worse, but in the past, psychopaths weren't the benchmark for our behavior.