Thursday, 15 January 2009
We've heard plenty today from across the Pacific about the use of torture. Depressing topic - but it gets the crew over at Blair's blog in a real lather.
Interestingly enough, if the blog comments are anything to go by, some of the strongest proponents of state sponsored torture are female. I won't go there.....
Let's read something from someone who has been personally involved.
My experience suggests it (torture) largely doesn’t (work). I was a Military Intelligence (MI) agent in Vietnam in 1966. I watched as we worked to dehumanize the enemy, some calling them “gooks,” “slopes,” and other terms designed to differentiate between them and us, the good guys and the bad guys.
This from an individual trained in the techniques and writing from the experience of using them.
Australian soldiers in Vietnam as a rule treated prisoners well - or at least that's my recall. My recent travels in Vietnam and my conversations with Vietnamese of the war generation have revealed in them (even in old enemies) a strong respect for Aussies because we treated them with respect after capture, and VC dead were given decent burial.
After the conflict is over, the survivors remember, and use those memories to shape the future. Anger and resentment lingers and often grows into the seeds of further conflict. The torturers themselves are often as much the victims as those they tortured.
For no other reasons than those, torture should be anathema to the modern military. Yet there are those who still advocate it as a routine part of anti-insurgent activity.
Tony Smith, writing in the Australian Review of Public Affairs, puts it pretty well when he points out that it does not work , it cannot be controlled and it is unethical.
The argument put forward by its proponents, (that it's OK because of the atrocities committed by the terrorists) originates in the reptilian recesses of the primitive brain - in other words, it's about vengeance. God help us all if that level of reasoning becomes part of any sanctioned government policy.
But then, it did, for a time, across the pacific.
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