New blog

All new content on my restarted blog is here

Sunday, March 8

Ashamed to know these people are my fellow Brits

Binyam Muhammed, the returned Guantanamo Bay detainee, has given his story to the Daily Mail. Although the Mail has taken, like the Conservatives in general, a line against torture 'in our name', their readers feel differently.

I have rarely felt so depressed reading comments on the Daily Mail's website than this.

Do these people not know what Churchill thought of torture? How our forebears refused to use it when fighting for this country's survival against the Nazis? Because they knew it DID NOT WORK! Here's the tireless campaigner against torture, the conservative Andrew Sullivan:

He opposed it in all circumstances. He was no liberal. In World War II, the Japanese added "amendments" to the Geneva Conventions for the specific war with America. Sound familiar? Money quote from my friend Niall Ferguson:

[E]ven if you don't see any resemblance between Bush's "administrative regulations" and Imperial Japan's "necessary amendments" of the Geneva Convention, consider this purely practical argument: As Winston Churchill insisted throughout the war, treating POWs well is wise, if only to increase the chances that your own men will be well treated if they too are captured. Even in World War II, there was in fact a high degree of reciprocity. The British treated Germans POWs well and were well treated by the Germans in return; the Germans treated Russian POWs abysmally and got their bloody deserts when the tables were turned.

Few, if any, American soldiers currently find themselves in enemy hands. But in the long war on which Bush has embarked, that may not always be the case. The bottom line about mistreating captive foes is simple: It is that what goes around comes around. And you don't have to be a closet liberal to understand that.

"The great principle of habeas corpus and trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the British people for ordinary individuals against the state. The power of the executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him judgement by his peers for an indefinite period, is in the highest degree odious, and is the foundation of all totalitarian governments... It is only when extreme danger to the state can be pleaded that this power may be temporarily assumed by the executive, and even so its working must be interpreted with the utmost vigilance by a free parliament... Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy. This is really the test of civilisation."
Rarely would you find me lining up and willing on the David Davis' of this world - against part of their own base it would seem. The Mail today makes me truly ashamed to share space with some Brits. People who would have us behave as the Khmer Rouge and - yes - the Nazis behaved.

They are being enabled by those in our government who permitted this to happen in our name and are still covering up our role. We all know it happened and until that is dealt with we will all have to live with the stain on our democracy.


Post a Comment