Trump and Torture

TRUMP: I’ll work it with the generals. I’ll work with the generals.

What generals, one might reasonably ask.

COOPER: I talked to General Michael Hayden.

TRUMP: For sure he says it’s terrible that we talk that way. And, you know what, that’s why he’s been fighting this war for many years. OK.

COOPER: He is the Four-Star General, Former CIA, Former Head of the CIA., he says your foreign policy ideas are frightening…..

(Soltz) Donald Trump has a pattern, in pretty much every position that he takes with any issue. If you aren’t winning fast, he wants to just brutalize the other side.

That’s frightening. And Solz’s operative word is brutalize. We all know the old trick of calling enemy combatants by disparaging names, thereby making them less than human and, therefore, easier to kill.

What Trump and his ilk and their immediate outspoken predecessors, Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz et al., never grasp is that by the very nature of their actions the torturers become the brutes. And those who condone torture and order its implementation are rogues.

TRUMP: Anderson, let me explain we have rules that are onerous …

COOPER: Geneva Conventions on war. There’s ways — there’s rules in a battle.

TRUMP: I know that, but, you know what, it’s funny…. Everybody believes in the Geneva Convention until they start losing and then they say oh, let’s take out the bomb. OK. When they start losing. We have to play with a tougher set of rules …

(Soltz) Yes, let’s get rid of all those pesky “rules” like the Geneva Conventions that are in place to protect our troops. Let’s torture, even though it has been shown to do more harm than good, in the war on terror.

As an American soldier in a combat zone, I was required to keep two business card-size documents on my person: my shot record and a declaration that I was protected, if captured, under the rules of the Geneva Conventions.

The shot record came in handy.

I figured that the enemy wouldn’t care at all about my Geneva Conventions card. But I honestly believed that we, the U.S. Army would not violate those rules.

The nature of “light” infantry is to engage and overcome the enemy and then move on. We surely killed more of them than we captured. Prisoners were evacuated hastily and we never saw or heard of them again. While in our custody, I never saw a single instance of maltreatment of an enemy soldier. Never.

There are shelves filled with books that chronicle U.S. abuses in Vietnam. I can’t deny that these existed. That troubles me very much. I bought the program. I played the game–by the rules. I believed we were the “good” guys and our motives were pure. I was wrong. The war was wrong.

Can it be any wonder that I distrust the government and that I loathe the politically expeditious rhetoric of candidates for commander-in-chief?


The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach; two benefits: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.


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