Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Torture from the other side

Just yesterday, Rude Pundit asked the following about what the US government reaction would be if the two captured US troops (Tucker and Menchaca) were tortured (hat tip: Sullivan):
What will our government do? What could it do? Could it condemn the actions as not abiding by the Geneva Conventions? Could it call the actions "torture"? Could it demand accountability? Could it demand that the soldiers be treated as POWs? Could it simply say, "Well, we don't do that shit...anymore"?
Tragically, these two troops were found tortured and killed. Here’s the story (Washington Post via Taylor Marsh):
BAGHDAD, July 20 -- Two U.S. soldiers missing since an attack on a checkpoint last week have been found dead near a power plant in Yusifiyah, south of Baghdad, according to U.S. officials, and Iraqi officials say the soldiers had been tortured.
In the past, the United States might have been able to point to this incident and say what an enormous moral gulf exists between us and our enemies. Now, we have to point out that we usually don’t torture people, and that when we torture people, they usually don’t die, and that the torture we do isn’t nearly as barbaric as our enemies’, etc. That we have to parse these differences so finely is shameful and sad and wrong.

I don’t think Iraqi insurgents or Al Qaeda terrorists would change their level of behavior or violence based on US treatment of prisoners. But how the rest of the world sees us in relation to them would change. How we see ourselves changes, too.

Close gitmo. End torture. End “extraordinary redition” (i.e. outsourced torture). If we are going to win the ideological struggle against politicized Islamic Fundamentalism, we must do these things. Yes, there is a military component to this struggle, but I think it is relatively small compared to the conflict of ideas. And it would be advantageous if we could point to a starker contrast between us and our foes.

As for ending the Iraqi insurgency, I think we should leave Iraq. It can’t be an insurgency against us if we’re not there.


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