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Torture has been the bane of humanity. It is motivated by revenge, sociopathology, simple meanness, or in a twist the Bush Administration seems to be orchestrating, for intimidation. This fits the world-view Bush seems to be following--Dictatorship at home and dominating the world. It explains his obsession with keeping AG Gonzales in his job at considerable political risk. It explains Bush's comments that Gonzales is doing a fine job. It was, after all, Gonzales who wrote the memos justifying use of torture soon after 9/11. Before 2001 was out, Bush's Justice Department supplied him with written opinions about how to protect military and intelligence officers from American and international laws for torturing prisoners.

This feature illistrates the extreme arrogance on display by this administration. History doesn't matter. Neither does morality. They know how to run the world. All it takes is dramatic shows of force. Never mind that America vanquished Hitler and Hirohito without torture. Never mind what other people think. Their modus operandi seems to be: "We are in charge, and don't you forget it, not even for a second."

Willian Pfaff, a leading American international commentator/journalist has this to say:

..."Torture doesn't even work that well. An indignant FBI witness of what has gone on at the Guantánamo prison camp says that "simple investigative techniques" could produce much information the army is trying to obtain through torture.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Bush administration is not torturing prisoners because it is useful but because of its symbolism. It originally was intended to be a form of what later, in the attack on Iraq, came to be called "shock and awe." It was meant as intimidation. We will do these terrible things to demonstrate that nothing will stop us from conquering our enemies. We are indifferent to world opinion. We will stop at nothing.

In that respect, it is like the attack on Falluja last month, which - destructive as it was - was fundamentally a symbolic operation. Any insurgent who wanted to escape could do so long before the much-advertised attack actually began. Its real purpose was exemplary destruction: to deliver a message to all of Iraq that this is what the United States can do to you if you continue the resistance. It was collective punishment of the city's occupants for having tolerated terrorist operations based there.

The administration's obsession with shock and awe is a result of its misunderstanding of the war it is fighting, which is political and not military. America's dilemma is a very old one.

It is dealing with politically motivated revolutionaries, in the case of Al Qaeda, and nationalist and sectarian insurgents in the case of Iraq. It has a conventional army, good for crushing cities. But the enemy is not interested in occupying cities or defeating American armies. Its war is for the minds of Muslims.

Destroying cities and torturing prisoners are things you do when you are losing the real war, the war your enemies are fighting. They are signals of moral bankruptcy. They destroy the confidence and respect of your friends, and reinforce the credibility of the enemy."
William Pfaff

Excerpts from: William Pfaff © 2004 International Herald Tribune
Alfred W. McCoy illustrates further in his blog: America's Road to Abu Ghraib
These photos, however, are snapshots not of simple brutality or even evidence of a breakdown in "military discipline." What they record are CIA torture techniques that have metastasized like an undetected cancer inside the U.S. intelligence community over the past half century. A survey of this history shows that the CIA was, in fact, the lead agency at Abu Ghraib, enlisting Army intelligence to support its mission. These photographs from Iraq also illustrate standard interrogation procedures inside the gulag of secret CIA prisons that have operated globally, on executive authority, since the start of the President's war on terror.

"Looked at historically, the Abu Ghraib scandal is the product of a deeply contradictory U.S. policy toward torture since the start of the Cold War. At the UN and other international forums, Washington has long officially opposed torture and advocated a universal standard for human rights. Simultaneously, the CIA has propagated ingenious new torture techniques in contravention of these same international conventions, a number of which the U.S has ratified. In battling communism, the United States adopted some of its most objectionable practices -- subversion abroad, repression at home, and most significantly torture itself.

Witch Hunters and their mentor, Malleus, reduced torture to a fine art. It took the Enlightenment to reveal the practice as the barbarism it is. The hunters were guilty of far greater crimes than the "witches" themselves. One should note that Witch Hunting remained a popular theme into the 20th Century with Augustus Montague Summers (10 April 1880 - 10 August 1948), an eccentric English clergyman, translating Heinrich Kramer's and James Sprenger's Malleus Maleficarum into English.


Quoting Pfaff:

"It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Bush administration is not torturing prisoners because it is useful but because of its symbolism."

The symbolism to our friends in Islam and others we need to reach is that Mr. Bush is stooping to the same level as the terrorists. <b>Is this the way to win hearts and minds?</b>

From here it seems that the Bush approach can only make the world's polarization worse. We are weaker than before 9-11. Is this really the way to go?

Posted by RoadToPeace on Tuesday, July 03, 2007 at 12:45:11

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