I’ve just been reading the article on John McCain in the May 30 issue of the New Yorker. I haven’t finished it, but so far it has not answered the main question I have about McCain: How does he feel about the US torturing prisoners of war at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Baghram, and other places, including those turned over to other countries for torture under under some process called rendition.
The article brings out McCain’s strong support for the war in Iraq and the troops fighting it, but does he also support our torturing our prisoners of war after he was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam? If he does, it seems perverted — that he wants revenge for what he suffered in Vietnam. That view seems to go against everything else that he has done vis-a-vis Vietnam, working to restore diplomatic relations, find remains of MIAs, etc. So, does he believe torture is just an inescapable part of human nature, accepted in both Vietnam and Iraq? I’d like to know. If he had to live up the Military Code of Conduct as a prisoner in Vietnam, why shouldn’t both Vietnam and the US live up to their obligations under the Geneva Convention?
Which leads me to why I’m writing this. I believe that any American acceptance of torture is bad. I think that torture is inevitable, that at least a few of the people we send to fight our enemies will come to hate our enemies and be inclined to torture them if given the opportunity, which is why it is so important that our leadership condemn torture and punish it severely when it occurs. Anything less means that we really condone it. So far, Bush, Rumsfeld and McCain condone it. However, there is a surprising, increasing outcry from Democrats and Republicans to close Guantanamo. Cheney has not gotten the message, which says something awful about his moral character. These are the men who should be setting the standards for our soldiers. It’s understandable that some soldiers might have the urge to torture, especially if one of their friends was just killed or wounded, but the political leaders — Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, McCain — should set the moral tone.