Torture

The United Nations headquarter in Geneva, the Palais des Nations, is a soporific sort of place. The UN officials have little to disturb them as they watch the world go by, contemplating their very generous salaries and looking forward to well-funded retirements.

They are only jolted out of their slumber about once a decade when some star diplomats turn up, handling negotiations over the latest international crisis. Back in the 1990s it was the former Yugoslavia. More recently it’s been America and Iran. And once the belligerents in Syria have exhausted each other in a few years time they too will probably head to the city that has come to symbolise internationalism, neutrality and the laws of war.

To say the officials in Geneva only show signs of life when there are major peace processes happening is not strictly fair. There are also those red-letter days when a celeb turns up. It can be the UN secretary general making one of his periodic visits or better still, a Hollywood actor advocating for a UN agency. Angelina Jolie, it seems, can make even the most bureaucratic blood plump a little faster.

The UN’s high-profile visitors generally make few remarks of any substance. Like politicians their interest is not in saying something interesting but rather in saying nothing that could be too interesting.

An exception to this rule – and I was lucky enough to be in the Palais when he arrived – was the Vietnamese resistance leader General Giap.

The general, who died last year, was tiny, frail and had nothing to prove to anyone. He moved surrounded by a throng of journalists. “As you look back on the Vietnam War”, one asked, “do you have any regrets?”

General Giap stopped walking, thought for a few seconds and then replied: “We used too much torture. We tried to get information from people who had no real information. It was pointless.”

As western power declines, many of the international conventions currently in force are likely to be set aside. The nuclear non-proliferation treaty for example – designed to entrench the big powers’ nuclear superiority – will seem increasingly irrelevant. Environmental treaties that prevent developing countries creating an industrial base will be ignored even more blatantly than they are now.

But there is one treaty that surely everyone can agree should command international respect indefinitely: the UN Convention Against Torture. Experience suggests that, if they see the need, virtually any state will protect itself by using torture. And yet dispassionate onlookers can virtually always agree that doing so is wrong.

Moral philosophers have long debated the so-called ‘ticking bomb’ case. Suppose you have a prisoner who you know for a fact has planted a bomb that is just about to explode in a packed sports stadium. The prisoner is the sole possessor of information about its location. The case for torture seems strong. By briefly, albeit severely, hurting the bomber you can save many lives.

Arguments against range from protecting the bomber’s human rights – to the more pragmatic: how can you be sure he has the information you seek? Who decides if this is one of those rare cases in which torture is justified? Once you cross the line and start torturing people occasionally, do you end up doing it too often? As General Giap suggested do you start torturing people who have no information to give?

There are further considerations. Some torture victims will tell their tormentors whatever they want to hear just to make them stop. And as the German Gestapo found in the Second World War, some people are capable of taking their secrets to the grave thereby rendering the whole exercise futile.

The case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is instructive. He was water-boarded no fewer than 183 times. At some point he worked that his interrogator’s protocols included the length of time (40 seconds) he could have water poured down his throat. By the end he was seen counting down the seconds with his fingers.

Those familiar with the transcripts of his confessions say some of his information led to the arrests of leading jihadis. It also helped the US establish how the 9/11 attack had been put together, how strong Al-Qaeda was and what its future capabilities might be. In fact the most interesting new material in the 9/11 Commission Report came from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s interrogations.

But when the water boarding was over, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told the Red Cross that he had also given false information so as to confuse the Americans. And perhaps most significantly he failed to answer questions about the location of either Ayman Al Zawahiri (despite having met him shortly before his capture) and the man who eventually led the Americans to Abbottabad – Bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti. Other detainees subsequently told the Americans that Al Kuwaiti had been well known to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for years.

The Americans’ use of water boarding after 9/11 clearly carried costs. Perhaps most damagingly it fed Al-Qaeda’s narrative that the US is a hypocritical hegemon hell-bent on achieving global domination by any means.

Some may not be overly concerned that by using water boarding the US gave up a substantial amount of its moral high ground. Others may not be too bothered that torture involves human rights breaches. But surely everyone can agree that torturers cannot be certain of obtaining useful information.

The writer is a freelance British journalist, one of the hosts of BBC’s Newshour and the author of the new political thriller, Target Britain.

By: Owen Bennett-Jones

Banal

When philosopher Hannah Arendt witnessed the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, she was struck by his ‘unthinking’ nature in the way that he went about the ordinary business of carrying out the holocaust. He was not only following orders, he was following procedures, normal ways of acting in a complex, but deadly, organization.

That ordinary people can carry out evil deeds led Professor Arendt to suggest that the “banality of evil” was a critical problem that had to be recognised as a modern condition. The Israeli war with Gaza provided riveting visuals of the bombardment of homes, shops, hospitals, schools, several of which served as United Nations’ “safe havens,” that killed and wounded thousands. Israel responded to Hamas’ rain of rockets by bombing and invading Gaza, attacking urban living areas where Hamas fighters were alleged to be operating with a network of tunnels. The Palestinian death toll in Gaza stands at more than 2,000 with nearly 10,000 wounded.

More than 300 children have died. Included in the carnage were 26 members of the Abu Jame’ family, who were killed in a single strike. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died. When U.N. observers denied that there were any weapons in their smashed shelters, the Israeli reply was that they would investigate the shelling. After all, Israel had good intensions; targeted homes were called minutes before they exploded. If civilians were killed, it was because Hamas was said to be operating in bad faith, using these urban settings for their operations, basically using the civilians as shields.

Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu stated during a Fox News interview on July 21, 2014: “This is the most grotesque war that I’ve ever seen…Hamas actually wants to pile up as many civilian deaths as possible.” The fault was Hamas’ because there was no intent to kill civilians. Dead adults and dead children were a result of a normal war operation, part of a normal way of thinking about strategy.

And it happened before. The 22-day war, which began Dec 27, 2008, killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. The official response was that Hamas was responsible for any civilian casualties because they live, train, store and fire rockets near where people live.

A spokeswoman explained: “We have no intention of harming civilians. . .Hamas “cynically uses” civilians by operating in their midst. “Sometimes there can be situations where civilians get hurt.” Israel’s foreign minister, Tzipi Livini, promised officials from the Czech Republic, Sweden and France, who were seeking a ceasefire, that Israel would “change the equation” in the region, adding that in other conflicts:

“. . . we are not asking the world to take part in the battle and send their forces in – we are only asking them to allow us to carry it out until we reach a point in which we decide our goals have been reached for this point.”

Israel insisted that it tried to make telephone calls (as it did in the 2014 attacks) and drop pamphlets warning residents that their homes would be blown up soon, so they should leave. Children die from routine military planning against terrorism. This is justified by the terrorism narrative, which holds that since terrorism (and terrorists) do not follow civilised rules of warfare and target civilians, then fighting 2against them can also be outside acceptable limits, e.g., torture, kidnapping, and widespread killing of civilians in the pursuit of terrorists. There was no intent to harm others, just the terrorists themselves, but if the others get in the way, well, that is just too bad.

Indeed, the United States has helped normalise killing civilians since the 9/11 attacks. President Obama promised to revisit the drone program, but instead doubled the drone strikes of his predecessor George W Bush. The president stated in his drone policy on (May 22, 2013): that killing civilians and children was not the intent, but just “heartbreaking tragedies.”

The basic idea is that you do what is necessary against this horrific threat, and if civilian deaths occur, so be it. Going after targets that may include civilians and children is standard procedure and okay. It is not personal or political. It is banal.

By: David Altheide

7. Hidus Peace Loving ???

Part-1, Mentality and Struggle, Part-2, Martin L King & Gandhi, Part-3, Gandhi won freedom peacefully ???, Part-4, Gandhi & Uplift of Low Caste Part-5, Superiority of Race & Hindus and Part-6, Gandhi “apostle of peace ???
can be read by clicking on the topics

That Hindus are peace loving people and coexist peacefully with non-Hindus is also not true.

When Taliban destroyed Lord Buddha’s statue in Afghanistan, there were worldwide protests against this heinous crime against humanity. The most vociferous demonstrations and protests were held in India. However, how little did the Hindu mobs realize that the first damage to the statue was done by Hindu rulers of Afghanistan during the frenzy of Hindu revival? Buddhism flourished as a major religion in India for several centuries. During the Hindu revival, Buddhists were given three choices like Jews and Muslims during the Spanish Inquisition. Either convert or leave the country. Large number of Buddhists fled to neighboring countries. Those who resisted were killed, Buddhist monasteries were destroyed, monks were murdered, and nuns were raped. Buddhist literature was burned and their religious centers were converted into Hindu centers. The famous place in Bihar State where Lord Buddha is supposed to have received his light (knowledge) is still under the control of Hindus in spite of the protests of international Bhuddist community.

The “myth makers” keep repeating that Hindus have lived peacefully with Muslims, Christians and others for hundreds of years. What they don’t tell you is that during that period Muslims or the British ruled over the Indian territory. But look at the attitude of Hindus towards non-Hindus when Hindus were the rulers? During the revival of Hinduism they eradicated Buddhism from the land of its birth. All other progressive movements, which opposed the caste system were either crushed or subverted.

Immediately after independence in 1947, the so-called secular and liberal Hindu rulers lead by Jawahar Lal Nehru adopted an Indian Constitution, declaring “Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains” as Hindus with the stroke of a pen. Sikhs have been protesting against this heinous crime ever since. No Hindu leader worth the name has ever protested against this abominable injustice to the minorities. Imagine! How would the minorities react if the US Congress were to pass a law declaring all minorities as Christians?

The word Hindu is not found in any Hindu religious text or any other ancient writing. People who lived on the western side of Hindu Kush (killers of Hindus) mountains gave this name to the natives of India. The word Hindu means black, slave, robber, thief and a way layer