bureaucracybusters

DOES TORTURE WORK?: PART THREE (END)

In Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 1, 2013 at 12:02 am

Throughout the Cold War, Republicans held themselves out as the ultimate practitioners of “real-politick,” at home and abroad. They convinced millions of Americans to believe that only their party could be trusted to not sell out America.

As a result, they held the White House–and often the Senate and/or House of Representatives–for most of the 20th Century.

According to Republicans and their Rightist supporters: A President–especially a Democratic one–could never be too aggressive or warlike.

  • President Harry S. Truman hemmed in the Soviet Union with a ring of military bases, making its further expansion into Europe impossible.
  • But the Right judged this as abject surrender. The reason: Truman refused to again turn Eastern Europe into a mass graveyard and ignite World War III by declaring war on the Soviet Union to “roll back” Communism.
  • President John F. Kennedy forced Nikita Khrushchev to withdraw Soviet nuclear missiles from Cuba.
  • But, according to Republicans, that was actually a defeat.  The reason: He didn’t risk thermonuclear war with the Soviet Union by launching an all-out invasion of that island.

After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Republicans lost their Great Red Bogeyman. Now they could only accuse Democrats of being “soft” on crime, not Communism.

Then, on September 11, 2001, the Republicans found their next great enemy to rally against–-and to accuse Democrats of actively supporting: Islamic terrorism.

This ensured the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush–-who had hid out from the Vietnam war in the Texas Air National Guard–over John Kerry, a genuine war hero who had seen heavy action in the same conflict.

In the last column, we saw that the FBI’s “kill them with kindness” approach to interrogation has yielded far better results than the “Jack Bauer/24” methods favored by the CIA and military.

But this has not prevented Republicans from attacking  even those FBI agents who have risked their lives at home and abroad to defend America from terrArabism.

According to the high priests of the Republican party, those agents are “naive” do-gooders who don’t have the guts to go “all the way” against America’s enemies.

But Niccolo Machiavelli, whose name is a byward for political ruthlessness, would disagree with those Republicans.

In his small and notorious book, The Prince, he writes about the methods a ruler must use to gain power. But in his larger and lesser-known work, The Discourses, he outlines the ways that liberty can be maintained in a republic.

Niccolo Machiavelli

For Machiavelli, only a well-protected state can hope for peace and prosperity.  Toward that end, he wrote at length about the best ways to succeed militarily.  And in war, humanity can prevail at least as often as severity.

Consider the following example from The Discourses:

Camillus [a Roman general] was besieging the city of the Faliscians, and had surrounded it….A teacher charged with the education of the children of some of the noblest families of that city [to ingratiate himself] with Camillus and the Romans, led these children…into the Roman camp. 

And presenting them to Camillus [the teacher] said to him, “By means of these children as hostages, you will be able to compel the city to surrender.”         

Camillus not only declined the offer but had the teacher stripped and his hands tied behind his back….[Then Camillus] had a rod put into the hands of each of the children…[and] directed them to whip [the teacher] all the way back to the city. 

Upon learning this fact, the citizens of Faliscia were so much touched by the humanity and integrity of Camillus, that they surrendered the place to him without any further defense.  

This example shows that an act of humanity and benevolence will at all times have more influence over the minds of men than violence and ferocity.

It also proves that provinces and cities which no armies…could conquer, have yielded to an act of humanity, benevolence, chastity or generosity.

This truth should be kept firmly in mind whenever Right-wingers start bragging about their own patriotism and willingness to get “down and dirty” with America’s enemies.

Many–like Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney–did their heroic best to avoid military service. These “chickenhawks” talk tough and are always ready to send others into battle–but keep themselves well out of harm’s way.

Such men are not merely contemptible; they are dangerous.

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