Thursday, May 17, 2007

Support the Troops, Stop Torture

Two former high ranking military officers have written an op ed for the Washington Post calling on America to turn away from any form of torture. This makes a near unanimous wall of opinion from military officers who unequivocally oppose the use of torture by this nation. They do not hold that opinion because of some misplaced bleeding heart sympathy for the enemy. They have the best interest of our fighting forces at heart.

The most obvious reason to oppose torture is to consider our standing in calling for the humane treatment of our service members when they are captured on the battlefield. Even now there are three of our men recently captured by the enemy in Iraq. I know full well that these men have probably endured atrocity and humiliation beyond measure, and I pray that I am wrong about this and for their well being. Just imagine the outrage we would feel if video hit the news of these men being waterboarded. Yet how hollow would the official expressions of outrage and indignation appear in that circumstance? We have given up the moral high ground on this issue in particular and we desperately need to reclaim it.

Another reason we must explicitly and verifiably stop torture is because it strengthens the enemy. The struggle we are engaged in will not be won with a military victory. We must win battles against the enemy in a war for reason. This is particularly difficult because we must rely upon an appeal to reason in the face of a call to fundamentalism. I believe we can see in our own society how a political argument based upon reason and logic can fail to convert those only interested in faith in that which is unproven. So we have a difficult enough task as it is without turning the locals against us by disappearing their friends and loved ones, who if they come back spread tales of horror and grief at the hands of the west. Not to mention the once innocent people we treat like this who are radicalized against us, determined to have their revenge for the ill treatment they received while in our hands.

Think of this on a personal level. If a family member or loved one of yours were to become the victim of a foreign governments torture, which government was occupying your nation, would you simply let the incident pass without response? Isn't the human condition such that regardless of the overall politics leading to the occupation of your nation, that on a very personal level you would fight them? Or at least resist to the best of your ability, even if you are unable to put your life on hold to pick up a rifle? To me, this is really just common sense.

We have fought the war on terror to this point as if Osama Bin Laden himself were pulling the strings attached to a marionette of President Bush. We have seen the ranks of Al Qaeda increased dramatically due to our ill conceived and unnecessary invasion of a nation that was not involved with Al Qaeda. In that war we have wasted more American lives than were lost in 9/11, and drained hundreds of billions of dollars from our treasury. And we have ceded the high ground once so carefully defended in the cause of human rights by allowing the torture of detainees.

I call for the leadership of this nation, following the inauguration of a new President and Congress in 2009, to affirm the Geneva conventions in the Senate with a Presidential signature as the first order of business.

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