Amidst all the debate in which President Bush and his neo-con supporters are trying to convince people that waterboarding, forced isolation, sex abuse, sleep deprivation, stress positions, freezing temperatures, and other “harsh alternative interrogation methods” do not constitute torture, there is one group of people who might well wish that U.S. officials had taken a firm, clear, unequivocal stand against such practices: U.S. soldiers.
Given that the massive military strength of the U.S. Empire, especially against Third-World countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, it might be tempting to think that the United States will never go to war against a more powerful adversary in the years ahead. Given the resentment against the Empire all over the world, however, and the propensity of Empire officials to poke hornets’ nests and push their weight around all over the world, it would be a mistake to succumb to such a temptation.
In a war against a more powerful adversary, it is a virtual certainty that some U.S. soldiers will be taken captive. When that happens, how are U.S. officials going to respond when enemy forces subject U.S. soldiers to the same “non-tortuous” treatment that the U.S. government is employing against prisoners and detainees today?
Isn’t it going to be a bit awkward for U.S. officials to proclaim, “Waterboarding is torture only when others are doing it to our soldiers, not when we’re doing it to people”? Or “Sex abuse tactics are nothing more than college-like pranks when we’re doing it but constitute war crimes when enemy forces are doing it to captive American soldiers.”
Wouldn’t people all over the world simply laugh at such hypocritical idiocy?
In some future war, American soldiers taken captive — and their families — might well rue the day that the U.S. government and the American people didn’t take a firm stand against waterboarding, forced isolation, sex abuse, sleep deprivation, stress positions, freezing temperatures, and other “harsh alternative interrogation methods” employed by U.S. officials against prisoners and detainees as part of their “war on terrorism.”