Two U.S. soldiers were kidnapped last week in Iraq. They have been found. Dead. And, apparently, tortured.
As you know, I'm not the blindly patriotic type, but still, the news was like a gut punch to me. I do not like it when our soldiers die. We are in a war, and the deaths of fresh faced kids like these is to be expected. It's always sad, but we are always able to frame it in the larger picture of war. It's the tortured part that gets me pissed.
It's very easy to get indignant and call the people who did this barbarous, because that is exactly what it is. But we no longer have the moral high ground to lecture other's about the barbarism of torture. We ceded that ground when we referred to the Geneva conventions as “quaint”. We lost that right when we began the process of extraordinary rendition, whereby we send prisoners to countries that are known for torturing. We gave it up when the president signed a bill banning torture with a signing statement, which basically meant he didn't have to abide by the law he just signed. Sketchy motherfucker.
When the bill was signed, John McCain, who was tortured for years in Vietnam, said "We've sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists. We have no grief for them, but what we are is a nation that upholds values and standards of behavior and treatment of all people, no matter how evil or bad they are."
John McCain is 100% correct.
So when George Bush says that the killings are a “reminder that this is a brutal enemy that does not follow any of the rules." I want to vomit. If he was so concerned about “the rules” he would have followed them. He would have called for the resignation of all those who didn't follow them He would have made it clear that we are America, and one of the things that makes us great is that we don't stoop to the level of our enemy. He would have made sure the Geneva conventions were followed instead of looking for loopholes around them.
So, all those people who joked about us torturing people, who insisted that it is necessary, can spare me the fucking lecture now that our boys are being tortured. I don't want to fucking hear it. And at this point, they can all go to hell. Our soldiers deserve better. Their families deserve better. Our country deserves better.
Of course, there is no way to ensure that, even if we followed the Geneva conventions and went out of our way to make sure we didn't torture prisoners, that our enemies wouldn't still torture our soldiers. But since we do torture, there's also no way to prove that they wouldn't have. “Moral high ground” may sound like an insignificant, unimportant phrase, but in situations like this, it's incredibly important. If you support torturing our enemies, how can you possibly complain when they torture us?
THIS IS WHY WE DON'T TORTURE!!!!!