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Friday, June 17, 2005

The Left is Wrong Again

Look, the left does not have the monopoly on stupid things said or anti-American ideas. However, they seem to have a lot of this going on very publicly recently.

The most recent is Clown boy, er, Senator Dick Durbin. I happened to have CSPN on yesterday (it comes with my basic cable, as does MTV2, but not PBS. What the heck?) as saw his say that Gitmo is, essentially, the same as The Soviet Gulags, Nazi prison camps, and Pol Pot's regime in Cambodia.

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat has compared the U.S. military's treatment of a suspected al Qaeda terrorist at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay with the regimes of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Pol Pot, three of history's most heinous dictators, whose regimes killed millions.
In a speech on the Senate floor late Tuesday, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, castigated the American military's actions by reading an e-mail from an FBI agent.
The agent complained to higher-ups that one al Qaeda suspect was chained to the floor, kept in an extremely cold air-conditioned cell and forced to hear loud rap music. The Justice Department is investigating.
About 9 million persons, including 6 million Jews, died in Hitler's death camps, 2.7 million persons died in Stalin's gulags and 1.7 million Cambodians died in Pol Pot's scourge of his country.
No prisoners have died at Guantanamo, and the Pentagon has acknowledged five instances of abuse or irreverent handling of the Koran, the holy book of Muslims.
After reading the e-mail, Mr. Durbin said, "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

I "suffered" worse treatment at my DoD school. I am not exagerrating. There, I was starved, beaten, kept wet in 40 degree weather, and worked for 60 hours straight. That was freakin' training. these jokers are treated better than inmates in Rykers' Island.

Who do these statements benefit? Do they make our military better? Our government? Our citizens?

No. They have one purpose, and one effect, which are different. The purpose is to try to gain power for Sen. Durbin's team. The effect is to embolden our enemies and weaken our resolve. Good to see our nation's leaders keeping their priorities straight.


  • There are, though several serious differences between your experiences at school and those of the prisoners in Gitmo. You were there voluntarily. You were not held for years with no prospect of release. You could communicate with the outside. Your experience was intermittent, with occasional trips home (holidays etc.). You knew when your experience would end.

    Even if (which seems not to be the case) that the treatment dealt out to you at school was the same as that at Guantanamo Bay, your experience would still have been far better than those of the inmates of Guantanamo Bay because you were not stuck there.

    The Senator is obviously guilty of hyperbole in his comparisons (the Soviet gulags etc. killed an awful lot more people than Guantanamo Bay has) but the USA has undoubtedly started down a slippery and dangerous slope with its treatment in recent years of foreign nationals and its attitudes towards the accepted norms of behaviour among civilized countries WRT prisoners and, especially prisoners of war. You can't have it both ways - either this is a "war on terror" or it isn't. You can't proclaim it a war and then say "Ah, but the opposition aren't really soldiers so the Geneva Convention doesn't apply".

    pax et bonum

    By Anonymous John, at 6/20/2005 05:11:00 AM  

  • John,
    You need to read the Geneva Conventions. They explicitly state who is accorded treatment as an honorable POW.

    You have made the error of the masses - quoting what you think a document says instead of actually checking it out. That's how the radical left gets folks on its side - ignorance. You are much better than that!

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 6/20/2005 02:19:00 PM  

  • Let's see, chained to the floor, kept in cold air conditioning, and forced to listen to loud rap music...sounds like my middle school dances.
    I second the hyperbole, to the point where anyone I hear compare a situation to the holocaust, gulag, etc, I immediately assume they're just being inflammatory, and stop listening.
    Years ago, when I was trying to save the world, I may have looked deeper into the alleged mistreatment of prisoners. From what I've readand heard, though, it just seems like the left is grasping at straws in this situation, trying to make more out of it than it is. I'll admit the big prisoner wheelbarrow thing is a loittle odd, but odd does not a Gulag make.
    I actually know a man whose grandparents were sent to the gulag. WHne I see him agin in a few weeks, I'll be sure to ask him what he thinks of the comparison.

    By Blogger Ella, at 6/20/2005 07:39:00 PM  

  • Hammer,
    That's kind of the point I was making. I'm not sure that these folk are "soldiers" in the sense required. However, to then use unquestioning "war" language about the situation is wrong if we're not fighting solders but civilians or irregulars. Similarly, whether the Convention strictly applies or not, we place ourselves in a very morally questionable position when we start to use terror, intimidation and torture ourselves - were these not the things we are condeming our opponents for?

    I agree that hyperbole is unhelpful. However, its use doesn't mean that what's going on is in any way acceptable. Torture is wrong - plain and simple. It is not acceptable for us to use torture on our enemies, even if they have information we want. It's even less acceptable if they don't, as seems to be the case with most of the people at Guantanamo Bay.

    pax et bonum

    By Anonymous John, at 6/21/2005 05:24:00 AM  

  • While I hate to een start to tread toward the famous quote, "it matters how you define the word, "is"', it matters how we are defining torture. Where is the line? Is discomfort OK? When is discomfort pain? Is keeping me awake torture? It sucks, but will it kill me or leave me scarred for life? Certainly not in the cases we have heard.

    John, I challenge you to present evidence of the systematic torture going on anywhere controlled by the US. Gitmo has had more stinking reviews and investigations than any other facility in the world - if bad things are going on, it won't be there.

    It will be in some pit in West Virginia, probably.

    I do agree that the nature of the conflict makes the rules harder to interpret. They were designed with honorable foes in mind - not those who suicide-bomb schools while hiding behind civilian clothes.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 6/21/2005 10:56:00 PM  

  • "it matters how we are defining torture. Where is the line? Is discomfort OK? When is discomfort pain? Is keeping me awake torture?"

    Yes, both of those are torture. Using physical pain or discomfort to extract information, confessions or anything else is torture - the degree of pain merely changes the degree of torture.

    Think about it this way - would you be happy for this treatment to be given to ordinary US citizens before they've been found guilty of a crime (or even charged with a crime)? If not, how is it right to use it on anyone else? The fact that they were picked up in a "war zone" apparently engaged in guerilla action doesn't change the moral position here - they've still been charged with no offense, still less found guilty. If they'd been found guilty of engaging in guerilla action against US troops then perhaps (perhaps!) such actions against them might be justifiable but not before.

    "They were designed with honorable foes in mind - not those who suicide-bomb schools while hiding behind civilian clothes."

    Or "armies" who bomb schools, embassies and hospitals instead of military targets? And this isn't an anti-USA opinion - my own UK government is just as guilty. We are supposed to be engaged in a high-tech war with minimal "collateral damage" but there's little sign of it actually working. There are simply too many innocent civilian casualties for us to take the moral high ground WRT terrorist attacks in Iraq. Terrorism is absolutely wrong - but so is indiscriminate war.

    pax et bonum

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/22/2005 04:42:00 AM  

  • (Sorry - that last one was me!)

    By Anonymous John, at 6/22/2005 04:42:00 AM  

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