Friday, September 22, 2006

Torture and why I believe we shouldn’t do it

   Not that terrorists don't deserve to be drawn and quartered but as Americans, we can't afford to give up the higher ground.   Every time we press the standards of the Geneva Conventions or stretch the rules of how we can treat prisoners, we lose more of the moral high ground to tell someone else, "Hey, what you are doing is wrong!"  

   Looking at the view of torture from a purely professional standpoint of an enlisted guy on the ground.  Lets toss this question out there, who's going to be our boss in a few years?  This administration isn't always going to be in power.   What if our next President wins by a landslide on an anti-torture platform promising to prosecute every military person who's has broken the Geneva Convention all the way up and down the chain of command?   Even if I found myself doing this sort of thing, the powers that be can't promise up protection in the future. 
   I'm not willing to throw away a career that should last through a couple of Presidencies doing actions that are considered gray.   We really don't get paid enough to be the fall guy for breaking rules that have been laid out in black and white and used for half a century.      
   Ask Senator McCain if he ever forgot what the Vietnamese did to him.  The hurt that they caused will haunt him for the rest of his life, you find the breaking point of a man weather he is innocent or guilty and in some part of him, he's going to be your enemy for the rest of your life.   When I was in high school, I had a substitute teacher who was a POW and every time he saw me come to class, his eyes would flash with what looked like anger for a second then it would go away and you could tell he was working hard just to treat me as a normal student.   I didn't have a clue to what his problem was till one day after class he told me about being a POW and some of the things they did to him.  Me with my obvious Asian background still struck that nerve even though I was born in Arizona and am as American as apple pie.          
   Even though I'm a Sailor most of the people I interact with are Marines, in fact I've spent 9 years of my life working with Marines so you could say I know what I'm talking about.  All Marines who graduate boot camp are given Honor Courage Commitment cards.  This card is a reminder of the values that they are supposed to uphold.   The front of the card has the words in big letters and in small letters a brief simple explanation.  Honor is "integrity, responsibility and accountability", Courage to "Do the right thing, in the right way for the right reasons" and Commitment is "Devotion to the Corps and my fellow Marines".  


The back of the card states this

________is a Marine.


1  Obey the Law

2  Lead by Example

3  Respect Themselves and Others

4  Maintain a High Standard of Integrity

5  Support and Defend the Constitution

6  Uphold Special Trust and Confidence

7  Place Faith and Honor Above all Else

8  Honor Fellow Marines, The Corps, Country and Family


Not one place on that card gives them leeway to do something that they might consider morally wrong.   It takes a special type of person to become a Marine, it's no walk in the park, these are regular flawed human beings who are trying to live up to a perfect example, by choice.   Most people join the Marines for a reason, they're trying to live up to some higher standard or principle that they've seen portrayed.  I've noticed that people who join and can't live up to those standards don't last long or longer then one enlistment.

   Marines in general don't lie, cheat or steel, there are bad apples but the environment isn't conductive towards their continued service.  Younger Marines have a harder time living up to these standards but as they age and grow into being a Marine, doing the right thing just becomes natural.   If they see a Marine who's not living up to that standard, they stop them and let out an earful.  After a while it goes against their nature to break rules (that is rules that have to do with HCC, they do break lots of other rules).   Marines don't like the idea of being the bad guy and when someone tells them they need to be the bad guy, it doesn't sit well and it shouldn't.  Every evil deed done has the potential to become a chink in our armor that will breed reasons that the enemy can use and will make the service members with deep-seated high moral codes lose faith in the institution.  

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