I'm disturbedI'm an avid Hardball with Chris Matthews viewer. Last night I watched and listened to one of Chris Matthews guests, a lawyer, advocate the torture of prisoners of war. I was disturbed...

I'm disturbed

I'm an avid Hardball with Chris Matthews viewer. Last night I watched and listened to one of Chris Matthews guests, a lawyer, advocate the torture of prisoners of war. I was disturbed on several fronts, but I was mainly disturbed by the idea that we can just ignore the Geneva Convention. On another level I was disturbed by the logic this lawyer employed to justify his position. The lawyer, like President Bush and Dick Cheney were so non-chalant about the use of techniques like waterboarding to gain intelligence. Both Bush and Cheney said that they were aware of and supported these techniques, whereas the lawyer on Chris Matthews' show only agreed with the treatment of the prisoners of war. The lawyer, whose name I did not get, struck me as amoral. President Bush and Dick Cheney actually influence policy. This is very concerning.

I'm curious how we all feel about this passage in our history. Have we set a good precedence by ignoring the Geneva Convention? Do other nations have to adhere to it if we don't?Does anyone think that George Bush or Dick Cheney should be tried for war crimes?

I reserve my opinion...for now.

Expert Answers
enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Overall, until relatively recently, the United States has done so much good for so many for so long, its own citizens and the rest of humanity included.  How astonishingly fast and far we've fallen. I want to believe we have not just witnessed these last 8 years as the passing of this once great nation, but facts say otherwise. We've become world renowned hypocrites. We should have, as we have for most of our history, adhered to the tenets of of our founding documents. Congress should have declared a war, or not; never should the presidency been allowed to start a conflict.  This aspect alone should have been grounds for impeachment of both presidential offices, regardless of whatever else dick and bush have done. The disregard for the separation of powers will lead this once Free People to utter ruin. In particular, the utter disregard of this presidency (and for that matter, congress and the judiciary) of Amendments 4 through 8 of the Bill or Rights is unconscionable. Read these today and it'll make you want to cry. (A Constitutional scholar once remarked that he appreciated the significance of Amendment 2 -- it's there to protect you from government after it takes away the others. What he pointed out is that these aren't Rights the government gives you; they are Rights of the People which contain the government! When was the last time that was taught in a government-run school?) What we should have been doing is applying our founding principles to the rest of the world, we should have been leading by example, we should have issued warrants, respected the rights of the accused, including a "speedy and public" trial, and most importantly, not inflicted "cruel and unusual punishments."  And don't buy that crap about "this is a different kind of warfare," or "these are extenuating circumstances," or any of the doublespeak. These excuses have been used throughout the ages for tyrants to seize power; the Rights upon which this country was founded were (and are!) immutable, and their proper exercise contains the aggression of those in power. But what are these scraps of parchment to this government?  Having been allowed not apply these principles to the rest of the world, how long will it be before it will be allowed to not apply it to its own citizens?  Will Obama alter course, or speed us down the road to ruin?  Time will tell.  If he's worth his salt, the current foreign policy will be the first thing he reverses; and he's got miles to go to even attempt to repair the rest of the damage.   The Founders were a wise lot. They understood governments corrupt over time, and that the people forever retain the Right of alteration or abolishment. Let's hope the recent election underscores that our system still works, and may yet again flourish, and those who have abused positions of power are not only ousted, but punished.  Tossing shoes?  These thieves have earned much more than that. No one is above the law.

charcunning eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I love this topic!

Just last night I spent several hours researching GITMO and the use of torture.

Isn't it interesting to now see that Judge Crawford ( a lifelong Republican, I might add) admitted that the way the USS Cole Bomber (forget his name) was treated amounted to TORTURE. She said it! She used the "T" word!

Now, in light of the closing of GITMO, the charges have been "dropped" against this man (I'm sure we'll reinstate them after investigating) because his confessions were deemed to be coerced through illegal methods!

This sets our soldiers up for the incomprehensible--for torture at the hands of our enemies. Scary stuff for us, and terrifying for them.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
It's a dark time in our nation's history when we decide to ignore the Geneva Convention. I find it appalling and sad and yes, disturbing. We have always let ourselves feel morally superior on the issue of human rights. To turn our backs on thar legacy is tragic. During World War II, even Hitler observed the Geneva Convention (or at least pretended to). To publicly announce that we do not need to follow it is atrocious. The point of the Geneva Convention is that if we treat our prisoners of way humanely, they will be treated humanely by the enemy. To unilaterally decide that the enemy won't follow the protocol so we won't bother exposes our soldiers to danger.
alohaspirit eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am absolutely against any forms of torture to any prisoner of war.  We are going against the Geneva Convention, and I think that Bush and Cheney should be tried, never going to happen though, they will always find their way around a sticky situation.  We are supposed to be a land of freedom and rights, but we have our president excusing certain forms of torture.  We are not setting an example to another nations, and if we continue its only going to get worse, and more nations will feel either threatened by us or use more serious forms of torture themeselves.

kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am also disturbed that the U.S. has ignored the Geneva Convention...we are not "better" than any other country in that regard and should adhere to it.  I have a big problem with the torture of prisoners.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

frizzyperm | Student

In reply to #3, "Would that not mean so many soldiers have been killed and maimed for nothing? How do you explain that to the families who have lost their loved ones?"

Yes it would. Pulling out or not pulling out will not change the meaningless deaths of participants on both sides. How do you explain it to their families? You tell them the truth. You tell them their president lied and their sons died because of it. If America started speaking truthfully instead of trying to make everything a dumb heroic movie, we might get somewhere. American soldiers are not Angels or automatic heroes. Remember Abu Gharib? That was American soldiers? Remeber Fallujah? And how many other incididents didn't we hear about?

I have two Canadian friends and one British friend who served in Iraq and I have met an Iraqi refugee. All four people said the American forces were astonishingly trigger happy and unsuited to peace keeping. The British soldier said he was shocked at how easily American soldiers fired at civilians. They all said that American forces the least understanding of their environment. We should stop wrapping the American military in this 'holy golden praise' as though American soldiers are 'special'. They are just men with guns, some good, some bad.

Besides, with regards to pulling out... the democratically elected government in Iraq has asked Americans forces to withdraw ASAP. That should be the end of it.

epitts | Student

I did not vote for Bush either time, just to let you know. 

I agree with you. I am a world traveler as well. I want to see more of our world and feel robbed of that opportunity because of our image on the world scene. More over, though I know we're attempting to think critically, I worry about the Patriot Act and being seen as a traitor just by writing theses lines... The fear tactics of the Bush Administration have definitely worked!

What do you do when looking back seems to be the only way people truly understand the implications of their decision making. Bush and Cheney still have no remorse or regret for the past eight years.

Though I never wanted to see our President (any American President) get assaulted with shoes, no less--he deserved it. How did he think he could go to Iraq and proclaim himself a hero when so many have died for an ill conceived war? Funny how political analysts say GW was trying to get his father's approval. I would think he would have read his father's book on the subject of Iraq which specifically said that the war couldn't be won--if that were the case.

On the other hand, how do we pull out? Would that not mean so many soldiers have been killed and maimed for nothing? How do you explain that to the families who have lost their loved ones?

So, where do we go from here???

frizzyperm | Student

Well, Epitts, my opinion on this is NOT reserved....

George Bush's disregard for the Geneva Convention and The United Nations have set this world on a catastrophic course. The Bush Administration's illegal invasion of Iraq was undeniably based on lies (they said Saddam was connected to 9/11 (he wasn't) and that he had WND (he didn't)). Bush and Cheney have dragged America's reputation into the toilet. They started an illegal foriegn war and called it 'a fight for American Freedom and Democracy'. I have travelled a lot, including many countries in the middle east and America is hated for what the Bushes did in Iraq between 1991 - now. They have done a lot of damage globally to America's standing. Nobody trusts America now. The President lied, so, therefore, America lied. The President started an illegal war and bullied other countries who said it was a crazy idea. People round the world saw this as America warring and bullying.

And when Americans voted for George Bush a second time, the world saw that America had gone crazy. Bush has been the most extreme and most incompetent President in living memory. The damage he has down to America's position in the world is beyond calculation. The fact the American public endorsed his mad actions with a second term basically convinced people that America has lost it's way. I mean, "detaining people for years without trial"... in America!?! And getting re-elected???

What democracy?

What freeedom?