Friday, May 18, 2007

Fear and Loathing in the USA

So, I'm late in catching up. But I was listening to On Point's newsweek round-up last night, covering the California Republican debate. I must confess, I did not watch the debate. I don't like any of the candidates - vehemently can't stand some of them - and, well, frankly I'd had a bad enough week as it was.

Still, I was stunned at what I heard.

Apparently, they set up a Dershowitz-type torture scenario. You know, ticking time bombs, people's lives in the balance, one guy tied to a chair. What do you do?

Short of John McCain (who as a former POW knows of what he speaks) all the candidates supported - what in essence amounted to - torture. They didn't call it that, of course. "Whatever it takes." "Enhanced interrogation techniques." "Every method they can think of."

The ironic thing here is that the people who know (wit John McCain) - generals, military experts, historians - all maintain that torture doesn't work. More importantly, it HURTS THE CAUSE.

We demean ourselves when we torture. When we do it, we subject our military boys and girls (and, let's face it, most of 'em aren't old enough to be men and women) to the possibility of torture. We create more terrorists and terrorist propoganda.

As written eloquently in The Washington Post:

"Worse, you'll have the other side effects of torture. It "endangers our soldiers on the battlefield by encouraging reciprocity." It does "damage to our country's image" and undermines our credibility in Iraq. That, in the long run, outweighs any theoretical benefit. Herrington's confidential Pentagon report, which he won't discuss but which was leaked to The Post a month ago, goes farther. In that document, he warned that members of an elite military and CIA task force were abusing detainees in Iraq, that their activities could be "making gratuitous enemies" and that prisoner abuse "is counterproductive to the Coalition's efforts to win the cooperation of the Iraqi citizenry." Far from rescuing Americans, in other words, the use of "special methods" might help explain why the war is going so badly."

What amazes me about all this is who this "Do What It Takes" rhetoric is coming from. This so-called Party of Life, Values Party. These are the people who are so damned afraid that they're willing to forgo the most important message of The Bible: Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You.

Hasn't history shown what this irrational level of fear can do? Didn't we all get forced to read The Crucible in grade school English class?

I don't know why I am still astounded by all of this, but I am. It just really scares me that so many people use their fear as a barometer and tune into their base desire, instead of actually listening to the facts and experts.

God Help America.