Moral High Ground: Elusive for the US Government

I will take some issue with Professor Cole, insofar as he does not acknowledge the extent of the bad behaviour by the United States government over the years, regardless of the political party in control. He writes as though it is only the Bush/Cheney regime that tortured and violated the Geneva Conventions. He is wrong – every administration since the Geneva Conventions were adopted has bent the rules a little, or a lot, depending on political expediency. Let’s not pretend that the United States is the role model for the world. Other nations are aware that the US is actually the greatest terrorist threat, not these small extremist groups around the world.

Let’s be completely clear about the facts. And the first fact is that the US never had the moral high ground in this discussion.

Richard Jehn / The Rag Blog

The picture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed deliberately released by the CIA in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

US Has Lost Moral High Ground on Treatment of Prisoners
By Juan Cole / July 22, 2009

The US military has, understandably and correctly, condemned the coerced video of a US soldier taken hostage by Taliban in Afghanistan.

But I fear that the argument that the public humiliation of prisoners is against international law won’t take the US very far after 8 years of Bush-Cheney.

After the evidence surfaced that the US military took all those humiliating pictures of prisoners at Abu Ghraib to blackmail them by threatening to make them public, the US assertion of support for this principle of the Geneva Conventions will be met with, well, let us say substantial skepticism.

In fact, as I was reminded by a former ambassador, the Bush-Cheney-Yoo-Armitage gutting of US conformance with the Geneva Conventions really makes it difficult for Washington credibly to complain about the treatment of any of our captured soldiers. The Taliban could hold the soldier hostage forever if they follow the principle put forward by Sen. Lindsey Graham. They could (God forbid) put him in stress positions naked and threaten to release the pictures to his family, and they would have done nothing that Rumsfeld’s Pentagon had not done routinely and on a vast scale.

The US refusal to so much as investigate American officials implicated in torture and breaking international law also does not help us gain credibility on seeing to it that those who mistreat our troops are tried on those charges. We even have Dick Cheney defending waterboarding, for which Japanese generals were tried and executed after WW II. It is disgusting.

And huffing and puffing that the Taliban are not a government won’t get us very far either. They control 10 percent of the country.

You obey the Geneva Conventions and the rest of international law on the treatment of captives because it gives you the moral high ground with regard to the treatment of our troops. Not doing so endangers every single one of our men and women in uniform. The chickenhawks who called such international agreements ‘quaint’ and outmoded should be drafted and sent to the front.

What is really scary is that the shadowy set of secret military and intelligence teams charged by Cheney to break international law are continuing to do so despite President Obama’s orders to cease torture. Obama had better get a handle on this issue, because it could well blow up in his face, in fact, Cheney may intend it to do so. I think there are still people in the US government who take their cues from the latter rather than the former.

Source / Informed Comment

The Rag Blog

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6 Responses to Moral High Ground: Elusive for the US Government

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes, let’s equate a dull machete beheadings, drilling holes through skulls, removal of fingers (and ‘other’ body parts), ambush attacks and hidden bombs with ‘humiliating pictures’ and ‘simulated’ water boarding (complete with attending physician). High ground my ass.

    10% of the Afghanistan – NOW! Yes let’s mollycoddle those misunderstood terrorists and get the real bad guys: Cheney and Bush!

    CHICKENHAWKS?! Funny, most those I hear use that term also didn’t serve their country, but feel free to bludgeon others with the term. I have a label for them: CHICKENHAWK HYPOCRITE! Cluck, Cluck. Tell us Mr. Cole, exactly what branch of the service did YOU serve in? What conflict did YOU fight in? Cluck, Cluck.

  2. Anonymous says:

    dear anonym-ass.

    out of sight, out of your mind, eh?

    high-flying U.S. jets and low-flying copters blasting the shit out of innocent people by the multiple thousands, but you focus on small potatoes stuff of machetes and drills on a relatively small number of people. both are horrible war crimes, yet you show your bias for ignorance to not even consider anything but your own argument. a humanist you are not. your ignorance is self-taught.

    besides, dozens (likely a lot more) of innocent prisoners have died under brutally sadistic U.S. interrogation in Iraq and Afghanistan (extended torture!) for which even the Pentagon lists “homicide” as the cause of death. I imagine that your ignorance doesn’t even extend to wanting to know about these and other U.S. atrocities. And certainly the historical U.S. atrocities by the multiple millions aren’t considered in your world of fingerpointing and paranoid blaming.

    and so what if Juan Cole or anyone else hasn’t served in the military? I’m imagining that you have, or perhaps you wouldn’t have brought it up, but, if so, your presence in uniform is certainly nothing to recommend the armed services as a calling or career. quite the opposite. without a doubt, you would lower the standards.

    Telling you like it is,


  3. Anonymous says:

    Larry has certainly broadened the topic from the piece’s content. I wonder, since it appears he too has not served, what first hand proof he has of all his allegations – The Nation? Mother Jones? Unfortunately these are derivative publications heavy on allegation and opinion, but usually devoid of first hand fact.

    Offering your opinion Larry is not the same as telling it like it is. When you make definitive statements about people you don’t know, you only reveal your prejudice and ignorance.

    I think the topic revolves around treatment of prisoners Larry. Perhaps for more insight on this, you should read the interrogation memos and learn just what a priority it was to maintain the rule of law.

    “anonym-ass” makes a good point on Cole’s non-service. Typically those crying chickenhawk the loudest, are also guilty of avoiding service (the chicken in chickenhawk), but feel they’re entitled to a pass because they’re enlightened. Wonder how much peace they’d be enjoying, and rights to criticize, if everyone ducked their duty.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I say we waterboard Larry.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ours is an envionment where evil is perceived to be rewarded while good is punished. As with everything the Gods have a reason for creating this perception::::
    People who fall on the good side of the good/evil scale have more favor, and when they do something wrong the Gods punish them BECAUSE THEY WANT THEM TO LEARN. The Gods want them to receive this feedback in hope they make corrections and begin to behave appropriately. The Gods DON’T like evil and refuse to grant this feedback.
    EVERYBODY pays for what they do wrong, only evil people must wait until their next life before they will experience the wrath of the Gods, manifested in their reincarnation as a lower form of life into environments with increased/enhanced temptations.
    Sadly, this allows the Gods to position this perception of evil rewarded as temptation, one which they use as an EXTREMELY effective corruptor.

    Both Africa and the Medittereanean are regions which have sexual issues. This is a sign of morbid disfavor once you understand that females are the God’s favored gender. Muhammad’s (Mohammed’s) polygamy halfway through his life as a prophet was preditory. Now a huge percentage of Muslims believes in male superiority and that the abuse of women is God’s will. Female genital mutilation is still practiced in Africa. Black misogyny is the most eggregious example in the recent past.
    Black member size is temptation to a predisposed population.
    The patriarchal cancer spread throughout Europe because of Christianity, of which the majority of policy makers were Italian men. Expect the largest landowner in Europe and the continent’s original superpower also played a major role in African slavery.

    Militancy in Africa is consistant with the Iraqi example, as was slavery and the KKK here in America:::Fear enforces proper behavior. Without it we see what happens as a result of gross/morbid disfavor:::::AIDS, crack babies, dead young men in gangland retaliation killings. This is the purpose behind many black’s historical tendancy towards resistance.
    The same principle was true in Europe and throughout the world for centuries:::People whom lived under iron fists were conditioned to think the right way. As a result they experienced higher numbers of children accend into heaven because they were taught to think and behave appropriately. Our preditory envionment of “freedom” was the primary purpose the Gods had when implimenting this strategy that is the United States, one which they used to spred the cancer of democracy and westernization throughout the world. And the Gods use this tool that is America to prey on the disfavored both at home and abroad.

    Even the Old Testiment is not to be taken literally, but the Gods do offer clues throughout to help the disfavored:::The apple is a tool of temptation used to corrupt Adam and Eve and cast them out of the Garden of Eden.
    There is another lesson to be learned from this passage, and it is quite similar to the vailing issue and the discourse over women’s attire which ultimately died in the 70s:::Women are responsible for and control the fate of mankind.

    Think about what I say. Consider what I teach. Society is going to become disturbingly ugly as we approach the Apocalypse due to spiralling, runaway disfavor.
    I do not know when this will occurr, but it is the God’s way to grant some time before they end on Planet Earth.
    Make the decision to always be good and never look back. Until you do this technology will employ tactics to test your resolve:::Ridicule, beligerance, doubt and refusal to abandon what people perceive to be their “investment”.
    Pray daily. Think appropriately. Too many are confident, unaware of the God’s awesome powers or their status as antients. Others may fall prey to their positioning.
    Be humbled, God-fearing and beware of the God’s temptations, for everyone is tested to evaluate their worthiness.

    Search for the remainder of this document. Blogster/spot only allows 4000 charecters.

  6. I agree with what Richard said:

    Other nations are aware that the US is actually the greatest terrorist threat, not these small extremist groups around the world

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