Left Justified: Maybe torture isn't such a bad idea

I wonder how long it would take to get George Bush to admit he wanted to invade Iraq before 9/11. What torture could be used to extract the real reasons? Did he launch the invasion to take out Saddam, who had threatened his father (pull out a fingernail)? Did Bush’s administration really go after the oil (turn a thumbscrew), not caring about American or Iraqi lives (give him a wedgie)?

Maybe George got Iraq mixed up with Iran. Only one letter off! Anyway, I think he’d break pretty darn fast.

But when the U.S. military uses torture, it reflects poorly on our country and our citizens, and it turns our troops into torturers. To be able to torture, one has to give up a huge amount of humanity, and by forcing our soldiers to torture changes the complexion of our men and women in the military.

Even if it’s not physical torture, i.e., peeing on the Koran, it is anathema. It reminds me of the stories nuns told at St. Bernadette School about Catholic priests being forced to watch Chinese Communist guards defile the Bible. I did not think “how wonderful the Chinese guards are in protecting their country from the evil foreigners.” I commiserated with the priests being tortured.

There are many ways of extracting information, and the United States military knows them all. Suggesting that Abu Ghraib prison guards just “got out of hand” doesn’t take into account the history. These same techniques were used by the U.S. Army to teach Latin American soldiers at the School of the Americas (that’s in Fort Benning, Ga.). The same torture techniques were used in Vietnam. In fact, the whole stinkin’ Iraqi war is starting to smell a lot like Vietnam.

Except this time, there are private contractors who stand to make a lot of profit off this war. Check out An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire by Arundhati Roy, South End Press, 2004. She explains American foreign policy easily, delivering good analysis of complex issues.

I am not in favor of “cutting and running.” I am in favor of withdrawing our troops. There is a difference. By announcing that we are withdrawing our troops (proclaim victory with the capture of Saddam Hussein), we can publicly seek international forces to take over. Place Iraq oil reserves under international control (instead of Halliburton’s), and our country makes it very clear we were not in it for the money. Of course, we’d have to pry the oil reserves from the cold, dead hands of Dick Cheney.

Local note: Sad to see him go

I just want to say that I’m sad to see Phil Pash leave. I will miss Phil Pash’s smiling mug from the masthead. He filled up this newspaper with lots of stories. He covered sports that many of us rarely get to experience, and in his own way, he was an environmentalist. So I am sad to hear that he is retiring from the field of journalism, although I wouldn’t put it past him to at least write a letter to the editor in response to this.

Let’s welcome Rod MacDonald to Rockford

I’d like to invite all of you to hear my favorite folksinger, Rod MacDonald. No, this is not the Roddy Mac of childhood television fame (that Rod just won the Rockford Mayor’s Arts Award). No, this is the Rod MacDonald who appeared at Charlotte’s Web singing songs of love, aliens and white buffalo. He will be singing Monday, July 18, 8 p.m. at Minglewood Café, 317 W. Jefferson St. It’s $5, but if you’d like to bring a bunch of guests, just tell them you saw it in The Rock River Times, and we’ll let you in for half price. Better bring some folding chairs, though. Minglewood has a great dance floor but few seats.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the July 6-12, 2005, issue

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