The Tortuous Discussion of Water Boarding

The narcissistic stridency of partisan language in American politics today lacks the maturity to measure the full negative impact it can exact on America's worldwide image.  The relentless discussion of water boarding is an example of politicians caring more about the benefits of gaining a political advantage than the cost of that advantage counted out in the currency of a nation's reputation.  

Here's common knowledge about water boarding:  interrogators, working for one or more paramilitary agencies (C.I.A. included), on a small number of occasions, used a non-lethal technique to extract information from persons thought to have particularly important knowledge of pending terrorists attacks.  That technique, typically lasting less than two minutes, simulates the feeling of drowning without the deadly effects.  

The initial discussion of torture, surrounding the Abu Ghraib episode, involved the despicable behavior of a local cadre of prison guards who humiliated and threatened prisoners by such acts as making them stand naked with sacks over their heads, and by placing angry dogs in their close proximity. 

Both events have driven countless magazine and newspaper articles, TV news reports, political press conferences and speeches, all spread throughout the literate world.   Prominent politicians compare these episodes to the horrors of Nazi Germany, and express shock that such torture could happen-torture, as in the dispensation of great physical or mental suffering or anxiety. 

Earlier generations of Americans better understood war.  Remembered for having said, "War is hell," General William Tecumseh Sherman had much more to say about it, including, "War is, at its best, barbarism."  If he could speak today, he might say, "Hell, war is all about torture on a mass scale."

Bosnia and Gulf War I offered viewers a new war image.  War as a distant, detached, bloodless video game.  War more like a SWAT raid than an eternity of no-quarter-asked-nor-given nights on Guadalcanal.  War as an hour-long firefight between street gangs, not endless days under shelling at Khe Son.  

A gunshot wound to the head from an assault rifle makes a small hole going in and leaves a large divot coming out.  An explosion that severs a leg at the shin can leave random pieces of dangling flesh, but little blood.  Should we assume that all the Japanese defenders killed during the island hopping campaign of World War II received immediately fatal wounds, or that all the Americans who died in Vietnam were killed while the firefight was still underway? 

Water boarding
The narcissistic stridency of partisan language in American politics today lacks the maturity to measure the full negative impact it can exact on America's worldwide image.  The relentless discussion of water boarding is an example of politicians caring more about the benefits of gaining a political advantage than the cost of that advantage counted out in the currency of a nation's reputation.  

Here's common knowledge about water boarding:  interrogators, working for one or more paramilitary agencies (C.I.A. included), on a small number of occasions, used a non-lethal technique to extract information from persons thought to have particularly important knowledge of pending terrorists attacks.  That technique, typically lasting less than two minutes, simulates the feeling of drowning without the deadly effects.  

The initial discussion of torture, surrounding the Abu Ghraib episode, involved the despicable behavior of a local cadre of prison guards who humiliated and threatened prisoners by such acts as making them stand naked with sacks over their heads, and by placing angry dogs in their close proximity. 

Both events have driven countless magazine and newspaper articles, TV news reports, political press conferences and speeches, all spread throughout the literate world.   Prominent politicians compare these episodes to the horrors of Nazi Germany, and express shock that such torture could happen-torture, as in the dispensation of great physical or mental suffering or anxiety. 

Earlier generations of Americans better understood war.  Remembered for having said, "War is hell," General William Tecumseh Sherman had much more to say about it, including, "War is, at its best, barbarism."  If he could speak today, he might say, "Hell, war is all about torture on a mass scale."

Bosnia and Gulf War I offered viewers a new war image.  War as a distant, detached, bloodless video game.  War more like a SWAT raid than an eternity of no-quarter-asked-nor-given nights on Guadalcanal.  War as an hour-long firefight between street gangs, not endless days under shelling at Khe Son.  

A gunshot wound to the head from an assault rifle makes a small hole going in and leaves a large divot coming out.  An explosion that severs a leg at the shin can leave random pieces of dangling flesh, but little blood.  Should we assume that all the Japanese defenders killed during the island hopping campaign of World War II received immediately fatal wounds, or that all the Americans who died in Vietnam were killed while the firefight was still underway? 

Water boarding