Ok, first of all I don’t claim to be an expert on torture. Fair enough, I’ve campaigned on and off for Amnesty International, and read a fair bit of the literature on the subject (Alfred McCoy’s A Question of Torture being a key text) leading to my article on the ticking bomb scenario, but all the same, I’m hardly the most knowledgeable sod on the subject. Still, whenever I’m feeling intellectually inadequate, some quasi fascist cunt comes on the scene and makes me feel like a genius. Enter: Bruce Anderson. One of the Independents leading conservative voices. He’ll be right at home if Liddle becomes editor. Still, as evidence of a brown bloke being tortured has surfaced, it’s time for the right to come out from their holes.
The article starts with a seemingly liberal opening:
“Torture is revolting. A man can retain his human dignity in front of a firing squad or on the scaffold: not in a torture chamber. Torturers set out to break their victim: to take a human being and reduce him to a whimpering wreck. In so doing, they defile themselves and their society. In Britain, torture has been illegal for more than 300 years. Shortly after torture was abjured, we stopped executing witches: all part of a move away from medieval legal mores and their replacement with the modern rule of law. Until recently, at least in the UK, torture and witch-finding appeared to be safely immured in a museum of ancient atrocities.”
Not the start I was expecting from an article titled “We not only have a right to use torture. We have a duty”. Perhaps he was getting an April Fools joke in early? After all, only an idiot would write that article, right?
To be honest, I’m quite disappointed. All torture advocates claim to find torture abhorrent, but they reluctantly allow people other than themselves to suffer it. For the greater good, of course. Sometimes they claim it “isn’t really torture”, or at least some did, until they cried like a baby after 11 seconds of waterboarding. What I’m waiting for is a re-branding of torture. We need a fascist Gok Wan. “Just put his dick in there darling. Oh babes, that looks lovely. Tighten it up.” Probably not. Still, maybe I’m just ahead of my time?
“Yet men cannot live like angels. However repugnant we may find torture, there are worse horrors, such as the nuclear devastation of central London, killing hundreds of thousands of people and inflicting irreparable damage on mankind’s cultural heritage. We also face new and terrible dangers. In the past, the threat came from other states. If they struck at us, we knew where to strike back. Now, we can almost feel nostalgic for mutually assured destruction.”
Here we go people, first paragraph making his point and he has already fallen foul of one the fallacies I pointed out.
“The underlying moral problem is this: what is worse? Torturing one man or letting thousands die? It is a stark choice to pick the lesser of two evils, the answer obviously being torture. If you are anti-torture, therefore you are pro-mass murder. That is the subliminal message to this, and that is how they win the argument.”
“In the Islamic world, a religious revival is taking place, analogous to the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. In that era, there was no shortage of volunteers for martyrdom. Today, failed states produce hate-filled young men, who appear to believe that Allah smiles on the suicide bomber. If you are going to destroy yourself, why not inflict maximum damage upon the enemy?”
Yes, as opposed the West where there is a serious shortage of volunteers for imperialism. Where there are no hate-filled young men, who appear to believe that God smiles on them as they blow the living shit out of Afghans.
Hang on a second…
“Admittedly, there is no evidence that the terrorists are in a position to produce dirty bombs yet, let alone fully nuclear devices. But we know one thing about technology. It spreads. Difficult processes become easier. Today’s remote possibility becomes tomorrow’s imminent danger. There have been frequent objections to the use of the term “war on terror”. None has been cogent. All of them give the impression that those who object to the phrase do not want to face the reality. It is a reality. For the foreseeable future, we will be engaged in such a war. It is unlike any other conflict we have ever faced, for there is no straightforward route to victory. Nor is there a certainty of success.”
Translation: there’s no evidence of what I’m saying, but there could be. One day. Sometime in the future. When people have forgotten about me.
Still, let’s look forward to that war on terror baby.
“In any war, there are two desiderata: appropriate strategies, and allies. In this case, the principal strategic resource is self-evident: intelligence. We have no easy way of establishing who the enemy is, where he will gather his forces or how he will strike at us. We also have to deal with the enemy within. All this requires an enormous intelligence effort.”
Yeah so let’s ignore all this contacts in the Islamic community shit police bang on about and mutilate some testicles already.
“As other countries are facing a similar threat, they will be making a similar effort. It would be insane not to pool resources and share information. We and the Americans have long-established methods of intelligence co-operation, which are now even more important than they were in the Cold War. It also makes sense to work with other threatened nations, such as Pakistan, where a brave political elite is bearing a disproportionate burden, and receiving few thanks for doing so.”
Those poor political elites, bravely ordering the torture of suspects from their cosy offices. Seriously, the human aspect of torture is often overlooked. Fine, we focus on those who are abused for years, but what about those who do the order (or order it done)? Why do we forget about their bravery? It’s not easy, y’know, ordering torture. There’s the phone bill to consider. Then the costs of water. It all adds up. I personally find it disgusting that Amnesty don’t campaign for torturer’s rights. Seriously, sort this out.
“But there is a problem. It seems likely that Pakistani interrogators use torture. Although we find torture repulsive, it does not follow that those who are tasked with governing Pakistan could safely dispense with it. Our enjoyment of Shakespeare and Elizabethan madrigals is not blighted by Walsingham’s rack-masters in the Tower of London. We lament the premature death of Robert Southwell, but despite Tyburn and the rack, we would still speak of Elizabethan civilisation. So let us be more generous to the Pakistani authorities. Their difficulties are at least as great as those faced by Francis Walsingham and Robert Cecil in the 1590s. Can we blame the Pakistanis for employing some 1590s methods?”
Eh? Pakistan are fine to use torture because we used it in the 16th century? Christ.
“When our intelligence services were invited to share the harvest reaped by the Pakistanis, there appears to have been no hesitation. Nor should there have been. We needed the information. Perhaps we should have offered the Pakistanis some advice on interrogation techniques which do not involve knife-work on suspects’ genitals. It may be that we have indeed done so, in private. But Pakistan is a sovereign state and an embattled ally; a far more attractive state and a far less dubious ally than Russia was in the Second World War. We should be grateful for the Pakistanis’ efforts on our behalf.”
Pakistan is a sovereign state therefore we can’t criticise in public? Fuck me. Is this what passes for incisive commentary these days?
I do, however, love the metaphor of reaping the harvest. That sounds so much better than “sadistic fuckery”.
And yes I’m not taking this seriously anymore, but with the complete lack of facts to work with (“there appears” “it may be” “we needed the information” Sources?) I reserve the right to abuse this shoddy article in the most childish ways possible.
“We should also be grateful to the Americans. But we should insist, again in private, that if they did torture suspects, they were wrong to do so. As they are in a stronger position than Pakistan, their interrogation doctrine should be strongly post-Walsingham. Some of the problem may have arisen from Dick Cheney, arguably the most formidable Vice-President of all time. Mr Cheney combines the neo-Conservatives’ moral certainties and the realpolitik school’s ruthlessness. This means that he shoots with both barrels. It also creates the risk of overkill.”
Mr Cheney’s “moral certanities” and “ruthlessness” make him a war criminal.
But with regards to the sweetening of America, yes, to an extent, we should ally ourselves with them. There’s little to gain from just pissing them off. But at the same time, we should not become their little bitch (again). Subservience to their policy not only endangers those citizens who are potential victims of their “overkill” but also every citizen of this country. Even the white ones they care about. Going back to the idea of Muslim extremists, ask yourself this question: is government complicity in the torture of an innocent Muslim more or less likely to radicalise the population. The answer, and subsequent action, is obvious.
“Thus far, there has been no need for either the UK or the US to consider torture, because neither of us has been confronted by a ticking bomb. As a result of the Hitchens trial run, we know that we have something which could work.”
And yet you’re defending the UK’ policy of allowing torture because “We needed the information”? Are you insane?
But, now… The moment you’ve all been waiting for. The last refugee of an idiot. The Ticking Bomb Scenario!!!
“But there would be nothing frivolous about a ticking bomb. Cobra, the Cabinet’s emergency committee, is in permanent session somewhere under Whitehall: the intelligence chiefs, grey and drawn from lack of sleep, inform the Prime Minister, ditto, that it seems almost certain that a nuclear device is primed to explode in the next few hours. There is a man in custody who probably knows where it is. They are ready to use whatever methods are necessary to extract the information…”
Damn. He’s got me beat there.
I’m going to go and cry at my humiliation.