Radically Inept
Friday, April 30, 2004
  Torture in Iraq

Alright, I've run across references to this article, Guardian Unlimited | US military in torture scandal, at several blogs. I'm just going to link to Atrios' post at Eschaton:

I'm not one who puts the UK press on a pedestal - I've lived abroad enough to know that it too occasionally has an on-again off-again relationship with the truth. But, it is pretty sad that we have to turn to the Guardian to learn a key detail about the prison torture story:
A military report into the Abu Ghraib case - parts of which were made available to the Guardian - makes it clear that private contractors were supervising interrogations in the prison, which was notorious for torture and executions under Saddam Hussein.

One civilian contractor was accused of raping a young, male prisoner but has not been charged because military law has no jurisdiction over him.
So, there you go. We hire people to oversee our security and interrogation operations, and they're completely outside the law.

Rape rooms indeed."
Now, I'm going to say this, and probably catch a little hell for it, but cest la vie.

What did anyone expect? We are at war, inspite of the 'Mission Accomplished' banner, we are at war. And we've gotten ourselves in the dirtiest kind of war: fighting guerrillas on their home turf. And guess what people? Their are no rules in war. Oh, we say there are, and we pretend there are, but there aren't. You can't win a war fighting under the Marquis of Queensbury rules of engagement. And, importantly, we never have. The idea that America has ever fought a war following all of the treaties we've signed is a self propagated myth. Even during WWII, the one most people think we fought by the rules, we broke countless in its prosecution. An easy group to point to is the Bombing of Dresden in World War II, and the nuking of Japan. We targeted civilians. It was against the 'rules'. We also violated many of the rules during Vietnam, including the Napalming campaigns.

But the point is, there really are no rules in war, and you foolish if you expect any army to follow rules and win. Is torture of prisoners a violation of the rules? Yes. But we do it. War is a filthy, dirty business, and Americans have watched too many movies that make it out to be some glorious hero fest of white hat Americans beating black hat 'anybody else's'. And, since we most often win, we write the history books the way we want to. And, we sure don't bother to read anybody else's account of them. Besides, it is as Jack said in a 'Few Good Men', "You Can't Handle the Truth!" Right before Tom Cruise gets to do his part to propagate the myth. It's not true. But it is true that most Americans can't handle the truth, and are more than happy to let the media present a rose colored view of the war. We don't want to know, we'd rather live with our myths.

I expect to hear a lot about this over the next few days, possibly weeks, with lots of hand wringing by the press, but then it will disappear off the radar screen of the public, because they don't want to know. and, they certainly will resent being reminded of it over and over.

When I was younger, I had a few dealings with a Hap Kido (sp) martial arts school. And I remember one of my friends relating the story to me about how one day he asked the sensi (sp), 'what defined the Hap Kido (sp)? And, how was it different from other forms of Hap Kido?' The Sensi (sp) replied, "You see that rock over there? If you pick up that rock, and bash someone's head in with it, that is Hap Kido. Anything you do in a fight that allows you to defeat your opponent is Hap Kido."

Well, anything you do that helps you defeat an opponent is the essense of war. However, Sun Tzu said it best a few thousand years ago, paraphrasing here, 'the greatest generals are not famous for winning great battles. In fact, they are likely not to be famous at all, for they win wars without fighting.' And, if we really had any great leadership in this administration, we could have (and were) defeating Saddam Hussein without having to fight battles. This administration decided it wanted to do battle, to go to an active war. It was dumb. And we are now and will continue for years to come, to pay for their stupity. But, we also continue to use those tactics that we think will help us win. Torture, is often such a tactic. Having the enemy know that you will resort to torture is a related tactic. Allowing the American public to know you are resorting to torture, was probably a serious mistake. But, I doubt it will do much to change policies in the long run. Americans don't want to know the truth. Americans can't handle the truth. 
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