Republican Bloodlust, Why Do They Love Torture?
This clip is from last week on Morning Joke. It’s amazing, Lawrence O’ Donnell goes off on Marc Thiessen who wrote a book called “Courting Disaster: How The CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting The Next Attack”. Lawrence kicked his ass and went right for the jugular, Joe Scarborough cut him off and went to commercial.
A couple of days ago, Joe Scarborough had Marc Thiessen back on to debate the issue with Daniel Freedman, who does an excellent job countering the many lies that Thiessen is pimping around. Here’s that exchange…
It just amazes me that some on the right, Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney and Marc Thiessen are so intent on torturing people. WTF is wrong with these people. This passage from Elizabeth Holtzman’s piece on MichaelMoore.com says it much better than I ever could. (emphasis mine)
Military interrogations in wartime are critically important. They might reveal, for example, where the enemy is going to strike next, and affect the lives of thousands of American troops. Yet until the Bush Administration took office, the US did not adopt torture as an official tool to extract such information. It’s good to recall why.
After horrific mistreatment of detainees during World War II, including the torture of American POW’s by the Japanese, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces, urged the US to ratify the Geneva Conventions. General Douglas McArthur voluntarily instituted the Conventions for American troops in the Korean War, even before they were ratified.
There are very good reasons why America as a country shouldn’t torture. They all seem obvious to me, but I guess the lessons of history don’t mean a whole lot to some. So many of the people who are the biggest supporters of torture also claim to be patriotic, how patriotic is it to dishonor those soldiers that fought in previous wars and who learned the lessons of war? More from Elizabeth Holtzman…
These commanders supported the Geneva Conventions, not because they thought it acceptable to “tie our hands” during combat and expose American troops to unnecessary risk, but because they realized the real danger to our country lay in using torture, not in abstaining from it. They saw professional interrogations produced important information without torture. They knew torture only weakens our reputation and our ability to project “soft power” — to command respect and persuade abroad. They perceived inhumane treatment of the enemy would only further endanger the lives of American troops.
David Patreus, the hero of the right until recently, was on Meet the Press this past weekend and reiterated his feelings about torture. Here’s part of what he said on that show.
I have always been on the record, in fact, since 2003, with the concept of living our values. And I think that whenever we’ve perhaps taken expedient measures, they’ve turned around and bitten us in the backside. We decided early on, in the 101st airborne division, we just said, we decided to obey the Geneva Conventions…
Abu Ghraib and other situations like that are non biodegradable. They don’t go away. The enemy continues to beat you with them like a stick…. Beyond that, frankly, we have found that the use of interrogation methods in the army field manual that was given the force of law by Congress, that that works.”
Whenever I hear one of the neo-cons arguing for torture, I can’t help but think to myself that there is some other reason why the crave torture. Why could they be so adament about it in the face of so much evidence from psychologists, professional interrogators in the FBI and by people like John McCain who actually was tortured? Why do they ignore all that evidence and continue to pine for the days of torture under Bush/Cheney’s regime? In a post by Peter Levine called “What’s Wrong With Torture”, he helps to explain a possible reason.
While there are no major ancient or medieval critiques of cruelty, the classical liberals (who were the intellectual ancestors of today’s conservatives and progressives alike) focused on cruelty as a special evil because it represented what they feared most: state tyranny…
it tends to “normalize” torture. Normalization is a powerful and dangerous pyschological phenomenon. As Luban writes (pp. 1451-2):
“we judge right and wrong against the baseline of whatever we have come to consider “normal” behavior, and if the norm shifts in the direction of violence, we will come to tolerate and accept violence as a normal response. The psychological mechanisms for this re-normalization have been studied for more than half a century, and by now they are reasonably well understood.”
Dick and Liz Cheney along with Marc Thiessen seem almost desperate in their attempts to “normalize” torture and they like to use people’s fears and emotions to gain their support. I’m certainly thankful that President Obama has put a stop to it and we are returning to the morals and principles that our country was founded on.