Monday, July 02, 2007

Torture spawns blood lusts

When parents torture their children most of us usually avert our eyes. Then we pretend to wonder why some of those kids who were systematically abused by adults who had power over them grow up to commit heinous crimes. Sometimes the hypocrisy and stubborn foolishness of that timeworn pattern is mind-boggling.

Yet, as a society, Americans do not sanction the use of torture as punishment for children or adults. So, an officially-delivered flogging in America is supposed to be a thing of the past.

Then, here comes that hypocrisy thing again -- we do, however, have a president who seems to believe that torturing suspected terrorists is good policy. This use of torture is seen here as a tactic, a means to an end, rather than punishment. We have many Americans who support the president on this matter, thinking that to be a patriotic stand.

Still, to the guy who is on the receiving end of the tactic, I suspect it feels a lot like punishment. Not unlike the abused children of the first paragraph, some who haven't been broken to pieces by the applied "tactics" will get real mean once they are turned loose.

Which makes me wonder: how many men we are holding, who knows where? that we can never let go free?

My contention is simple: Torture spawns more blood lusts and suicide bombers in the Middle East, just like it molds the kind of fiends who would slay a family, such as the Harveys here in Richmond last year. While I have no sympathy for the two butchers who brought hell into Bryan and Kathy Harvey’s Woodland Heights home, I have little doubt that what amounted to be the culprits' souls had been destroyed by abusive treatment long before Jan. 1, 2006.

Torture is about power. It is about crushing the dignity of a person who is powerless to stop it. Usually, though, it is not a good tool for getting valuable information from the person being tortured. So torture isn't really about info. It's about power, letting the victim feel the power to inflict pain and humiliation that can be turned on, or off, at a whim.

Nat Hentoff has written a good piece about the use of torture in today’s so-called War on Terror.

"...These generals then recalled that former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld once wondered aloud whether we were creating more terrorists than we were killing. In counterinsurgency doctrine, this is the right question. Victory in this kind of war comes when the enemy loses legitimacy in the society from which it seeks recruits. Losing legitimacy among such incipient terrorists, the enemy, the generals note, 'loses its recuperative power.'"

"But, contrary to what it takes to conquer this enemy, Krulak and Hoar continue, 'the torture methods that Tenet defends (and have been extensively documented in our press and by human rights groups) have nurtured the recuperative power of the enemy (by adding to its recruits). ... If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy.'"

Click here to read Hentoff's "Generals with whom Bush should talk."

Bottom line: How many people has America’s recent use of torture turned into the same sort of citizens who relished brutally murdering two little girls and their parents? As part of what was supposed to be an effort to protect America from terror attacks, how many suspected terrorists, and their children, has torture transmogrified into monsters who are hell-bent on tasting revenge?

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