War is hell! Torture is Hell! I’ve been close enough to it to know that it destroys lives and human societies. I find the arguments given to justify it, appalling, as well as Dick Cheney’s saying that he would “do it again in a minute.” At least Senator John McCain has gotten it right in his opposing torture, because he experienced torture himself. He knows it is hell.
So how can we as a people spend time debating how much we gained by doing it, somehow implying it would be justified if it accomplished something? I think we all innately know it is wrong. Would we say that rape was OK if it met a purpose for the group or country? Torture is not just illegal under U.S. and international law, it is immoral.
Intentionally inflicting pain on a captive, defenseless person can never be justified. Actions and policies that destroy and strip people of their humanity do not build up—do not bring life-giving results. That’s also why it’s wrong to rape (and there seems to be a denial about this among some groups in our society).
Through this and other kinds of brutality and killing, the U.S. has been sowing seeds of and modeling the kind of atrocities we are seeing in these fanatical militias who are also trying to take power. How can the U.S., with a clear conscience, denounce the torture of other nations and fighting groups?
It’s time now for our country to take a clear stand against torture and immediately stop it and any other dehumanizing practices, including drone warfare. But we should also make a dramatic change in U.S. aggression and empire-building around the world and in our own country that have relied on excessive violent tactics. It’s about time we acted out of decency and for the well being of others instead of for our own corporations’ gain.
(A good, concise article about this is “Answering Evil with Evil,” by Eugene Robinson http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/answering_evil_with_evil_20141212 )
For more about what Peggy saw and experienced in Iraq, see her recent book: Walking Through Fire: Iraqis’ Struggle for Justice and Reconciliation (Cascade Books, 2013)