Bush: “Torture our kids, s’il vous plait” (January 31, 2005)
For many years, concerned men and women on the planet have sought to impose some limits on the conduct of war and the treatment of prisoners of war. A combatant is to be rendered hors de combat and removed from the battlefield, not wantonly slaughtered or ritualistically dismembered. The golden rule – do onto others as you would like them to do onto your kids – was exalted. The hope has been that a scared, bewildered and blindfolded American kid would find that someone in the cell knows at least one Western word – “Geneva” – and perhaps entertains some vague anxiety that following the directions of his superiors will not be a defense if the other side wins. America’s compliance with international law on a good day is incidental because of the settled practice that only O3s (captains) and lesser ranking members of the U.S. military are ever held accountable for atrocities under any circumstances. Even though the senior officers (O4s and up) of the U.S. military are exempt from prosecution, some of them are uneasy that the restraints have been removed. The enlightened of the world have hoped that a few individuals would back off on a few occasions and not reach for the blowtorch and the battery cables.
The Bush regime decided to shift from the “civil/criminal law” paradigm to a “war” paradigm in response to every local, state, national and/or international challenge. The “war” paradigm, however, still has rules that are in our interest. By repudiating the rules, Bush has provided carte blanche to individuals who were admittedly not eager to embrace “Western rules.” When the next 18 year old who only wanted to score some coin for the nursing degree is splayed out on the table, the captors will remember at least one Western word – “George.” He says that anything goes. In this craven new world created by Bush and his boys, it is a defense to say that the Americans propounded the rules for the treatment of the American prisoners. America loses. The final outcome now depends on who wins the struggle.