Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Humane Torture? This all really boils down to our having watched too many "Hogan's Heroes" episodes. WWII and Hollywood's portrayal thereof, lead many to believe that POW camps were orderly, neat and civil, where a clear chain of command existed, and there was accountability on both sides. I suppose that was true to some extent given the past "norms of war". For example, in "The Bridge Over the River Kwai", for all of the tough images it gave us of how poorly off the Allies were in the Pacific camps, we were really only lead to believe that the ordeal was more of a battle of wills - who would crack first: the worked-nearly-to-death prisoners or the brittle, exiled guards and commanders who had to face the reality that they weren't fighting for honor, but just keeping watch over inferior gaijin?

The fact is that the Pacific prisoners suffered under horrible conditions, which included out-and-out torture, death marches, malnutrition, zero medical care, and isolation from the outside world. Read "Ghost Soldiers" for a wonderful, if horrifying, account. This is because the Japanese did not believe that the Americans were fighting a just war, and that Westerners were in fact an inferior race to them.

John McCain might offer a similar opinion of the Vietnamese prisoner camp standards. Recall the high regard in which the VC held the imperialist capitalists.

Nonetheless, we in the "west" like to superimpose a "tough but fair" gloss to the imprisonment and interrogation of enemy soldiers (and hell, Rumsfeld isn't even acknowledging that the Iraqis were soldiers - they are terrorists in his book, and rightly so). We suppose that we are above the inhumane practices of our enemies. People look at the Nuremberg trials and figure that even the most despicable humans are entitled to three hots and a cot and plenty of writing material for letters home.

However, that world is over. Battles aren't fought in trenches, in the woods or on the fields, where if your enemy wasn't exactly offering himself up as a target, he was at least not hiding behind civilians, while wearing a mask. The fact today is that no one can match us on those fronts. So, our enemy no longer bothers. Battles are now fought in restaurants, buses and, most importantly, the media. Our enemy is mostly faceless (or at least masked) and of any age or gender. Most importantly, his cause is wrapped in the shroud of his god - which gives him justification for the atrocities he commits.

Because the enemy does not want to meet us on the "honorable" field of combat, we should not treat the enemy as part of an army, which is due a certain degree of respect or at least recognition.

Our enemy is just as happy to purposely kill our children and our adult civilians (note that all wars kill children and adult civilians - the question is one of intent and purpose). We can no longer stand idly by and just store these terrorist prisoners while their brethern carry on their deviant mission. We are obligated to take the battle to them on all fronts, and in all manners. There is no room for open torture, because our people will not tolerate it; but nothing in the acts of these terrorists has earned them our respect. They have long given up that privilege.

Eno is right. Dress them all up in women's clothing and make them eat pork rinds until they give up what they know. Hell, in some cities in America, that's called good living.

No comments: