21 June 2006
Torture and the Character of Leadership
Mack suggested that some of what's gone on has gone on since time immemorial, that there just weren't digital cameras to capture it and put on the net at the time.
I questioned that, but a mild bit of research supports at least part of what he's saying. According to none other than the late Charles Lindberg, American troops behaved abhorently towards Japanese prisoners during WWII. From http://www.charleslindberg.com/:
In 1943, Mr Lindbergh joined United Aircraft as an engineering consultant, devoting most of his time to its Chance-Vought Division. A year later he persuaded United Aircraft to designate him a technical representative, and he wen to the Pacific to study plane performances under combat conditions in his six months there he took part in fighter bomber raids on Japanese positions.
During his Pacific tour Mr Lindbergh repeatedly recorded his shock over American treatment of Japanese soldiers. In an entry for June 28, 1944 he wrote:
"I am shocked at the attitude of our American troops. They have no respect for death, the courage of an enemy soldier or many of the ordinary decencies of life. They think nothing whatever of robbing the body of a dead Jap and call him a "son of a bitch" while they do so.
"I said during a discussion with American officers that regardless of what the japs did I did not see how we could gain anything or claim that we represented a civilized state if we killed them by torture."
This was a theme to which Mr.Lindbergh returned several times, as he recorded instances of shooting of Japanese taken as war prisoners or the torture of them.
And when he traveled in Germany shortly after the Nazi surrender in May 1945, he wrote in his journal. "What the German has done to the Jew in Europe, we are doing to the Jap in the Pacific."
Still, until this war, the government and the military leadership had taken a consistent position against torture, atrocities, etc. So, in my mind, it still comes down to the character of leadership, not necessarily that of the enlisted men. I have no illusions that we are all capable of the worst atrocities, but I also believe that each of us can find a way, with the proper encouragement and support, not to go down that path.
This administration has chosen otherwise, and, in my opinion, wrongly.