E-HELP Debate: War Crimes in the 20th Century
Posted 17 May 2005 - 08:06 PM
Unfortunately Mike, the gray areas are where the real problems lie. Those problems that have anguished and in many cases destroyed or disrupted the lives of many of those who involuntarily had to face them.
The obvious "black and white" as you refer to them, if they are in fact that obvious, are not the problem. But often what seems black and white in those cool reflective moments of reason, well after and removed from the fact, may often have seemed much less defined amidst the anguish, total gut wrenching fear and panic of a very disturbing moment in time.
It is kind of like being an armchair quarterback. After watching a football game, I could probably tell you precisely what, let's say Bret Favre, did wrong. He could even tell you better than I could. But that doesn't mean if that moment could be played over again in exactly the same manner, that he neccessarily would have done the "right thing".
In my life, that which I have been able to define as black or white has been of litle problem. But that vast area of varying shades of gray has been troubling enough to have colored my hair in the same way!
Posted 18 May 2005 - 05:28 PM
Or take the US policy of 'extraordinary rendition' (i.e. shipping people they pick up to countries where they will be tortured). (I'm using this as a current example - even though you could argue that at least some of the people involved are irregular fighters and thus, perhaps, by some legalistic definition not involved in a war). An isolated incident like this could be attributed to an individual who could be punished for his crimes ... but the CIA have a special fleet of planes for the purpose, which indicates planning.
Posted 30 May 2005 - 06:25 PM
Even if were proven that Omar were a terrorist, and on the contrary nothing has been proven, torture to make him confess would invalidate his confession, torture to make him implicate other people as terrorists likewise.
None of this could be described as "spur of the moment" or "a few bad apples". Everything points to something far more systematic. The use of a form of torture known as water boarding (copied from the Gestapo incidentally) was authorised by the CIA and the suspension of the use of such methods last year specifically excluded Guantanamo.
They also authorise the withholding of medication as an enhanced interrogation technique.
Posted 03 June 2005 - 09:46 AM
This is not to argue for moral relativism, or that 'they are all as bad as each other'. There should be judgements on good and evil in history, but children should not be taught that, for instance, Britain is good and Germany is bad. All national histories have their skeletons, and children in Britain should be taught about Amritsar, Suez etc, as well as about the more glorious bits of British History. Similarly, they should be taught that in wars, atrocities are generally committed by sections of most armies, although particular regimes may encourage different scales and forms of atrocity.
Posted 03 June 2005 - 04:07 PM
Nationalism dehumanises, as does sexism and homophobia and the labelling of any group as "the enemy".
Posted 03 June 2005 - 11:50 PM
It seems entirely appropriate in this day and age and in a discussion of war crimes to note just how flawed we ALL are - and the more kids who watch LOTR and get that lesson in some fashion, the better.
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