In an era where American politicians still equivocate on this issue, we can look to a former enemy for lessons in honor. Dr. Tono played a small part in medical atrocities practiced by the Japanese war machine, and spent the rest of his life agonizing over the sins he witnessed, later angering surviving perpetrators with the publication of Disgrace, an accounting of gruesome experiments on US prisoners.
Below, an article from The Guardian. A review of the book is here from the Baltimore Sun. I hope Mr. Bush realizes who he is in league with when he tries to have it both ways on torture, and that he’ll reconsider his position. Leaders don’t pander, they persuade. He could say, “This was an understandable mistake after a horrific attack on our soil. We’ve learned our lesson the hard way and we’re going to go back to leading the world on human rights.”
A United States of the Middle East is far in the future, but men like this may one day build such a place.
The anonymous author of the essay below compiles and to a degree dispels many of the arguments that have been put forward to answer for the success of ISIS.
In my view, it’s not so much that the reasons for the rise of ISIS are wrong, but that they are all partially right: the Sunni tribes of Iraq and Syria, historically speaking, have rarely submitted to a governing authority that was not in some way brutal; poverty and ignorance in these areas remain dominant forces that permit the population to be manipulated by wealthier actors; the people who follow ISIS are indifferent to human life in a way that is, unfortunately, characteristic of our species, but particularly glaring in an age where the West has moved beyond its own history of ruthlessness; finally, foreigners find the lure of religious absolutism and adventuresome, sadistic violence too compelling to stay home. These factors combine in the chaotic aftermath of the destruction of a ruling order, Baathism, that, for all its ugliness, was far more effective than its replacements have been. The Iraqi government still doesn’t pay its Sunni fighters.
Even accepting that ISIS is the result of a series of unfortunate events, I share the dismay of the author: Why would anyone choose to fight for or live under ISIS? But then again, why do the North Koreans tolerate Kim Jong Un? Why did it take so long for the Russians to rid themselves of the Soviet system, and why do they now allow Putin to flaunt democratic governance? When the alternative is chaos, starvation, death at the hands of a hated opponent, or mere uncertainty, humans seem ready to adapt to almost any system. It’s also just a fact of our nature that when we get together, we’re more as likely as not to do violence to another group without some authority to prevent this from occurring. It would probably be a good idea to survey the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria and ask them directly why they support ISIS. This Vox article is also helpful.
This video demonstrates how non-confrontational questioning can make it easier for individuals to reconsider behavior.