…in modern societies in Europe and North America, the tribal paradigm is constantly reiterated in large ways and small—not only in expressions of nationalism and “national character,” but also in the often-clannish organization and behavior of civic clubs, social circles, sports fans, urban gangs, and even “cyber-tribes,” to note a few examples. All such expressions reflect the tribal paradigm, for they are more about traditional desires for identity, honor, pride, respect, and solidarity than about modern desires for power and profit.
From In Search Of How Societies Work, Tribes — The First and Forever Form, by David Ronfeldt, page 57, before chapter titled, Modern Manifestations of the Tribal Form. (My bold text.)
A few more thoughts from the first commander in chief:
4th. Whatever Prisoners you take, must be treated with Kindness and Humanity. Their private Stock of Money and Apparel to be given them, after being strictly searched, and when they arrive at any Port, they are to be delivered up to the Agent, if any there; if not, to the Committee of Safety of such Port.
George Washington to Charles Dyar, January 20, 1776 (also to William Burke and John Ayres) IMAGES Head Quarters Cambridge, January 20, 1776. Sir: You being appointed Captain and Commander of the armed schooner Harrison in the Service of the United Colonies are to pay all Attention and Obedience to the following Instructions.
Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner] … I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause … for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.
George Washington to Benedict Arnold, September 14, 1775, two same date IMAGES Camp at Cambridge, September 14, 1775. Sir: You are intrusted with a Command of the utmost Consequence sequence to the Interest and Liberties of America.
A treasury of instructive observations — all, curiously, remain relevant — from President Washington’s farewell address. I consider it required reading for young military officers — especially for Washington’s insights with respect to the dangers of internal, partisan passions and factionalism, his thoughts on client states, and his observations about domestic military establishments. Washington, a great warrior, knew well the aspects of human nature that lead to conflict, and impresseses upon us that vigilance toward such passions will help sustain peace and tranquility:
Washington’s Farewell Address 1796 Friends and Citizens: The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with
Republican President Abraham Lincoln was one of the first world leaders to attempt to legally curtail the cruelty of modern war with the Lieber Code, authored by Napoleonic War veteran and legal scholar Francis Lieber:
A prisoner of war is subject to no punishment for being a public enemy, nor is any
revenge wreaked upon him by the intentional infliction of any suffering, or disgrace, by cruel
imprisonment, want of food, by mutilation, death, or any other barbarity.
CBS News’s Steve Kroft reports that redacted pages of the 9/11 report may implicate the Saudi government in the attacks of 9/11.
As a veteran and citizen who has born personal witness to the immeasurable waste, incompetence, and pain inflicted on Afghanis, Iraqis, and US and international soldiers through our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan in response to 9/11, and who like most Americans, can mark the obvious statistic that 14 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, and that none were Iraqi, or Afghani, I find the video report below rather intriguing, and would like to know the redacted contents myself.
It’s worth stating that The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its part would like the redacted pages declassified. Given this fact, it’s likely that lower-level Saudi officials could have helped the hijackers, but without direct knowledge of the specifics of the plan that was being hatched, and without telling their superiors, and Saudi Arabian leaders want to be able to discuss this openly with us.
But it’s important to understand the following in making this conclusion: The capabilities of Middle Eastern intelligence services are greater than Americans generally imagine. I recall that in 2006 in Iraq, we found a child suicide bomber who’d run away hundreds of miles to the north to avoid self-immolation. The kid came to us willingly because within a day of his escape to the home of relatives, the insurgent intelligence networks had found him, and he was scared for his life. These networks did their sleuthing without analytical tools, computers, or any of the costly and isolating equipment we rely upon, but through personal ties and word of mouth, the same techniques a suspected Saudi agent used to help at least two of the 9/11 hijackers get flight training and housing in America. It’s also true that most of the suicide bombers wreaking havoc in Iraq were coming from Saudi Arabia. Being a totalitarian monarchy that exerts draconian control over its citizens, you’d think the Kingdom would have been able to mind its borders.
Finally, it’s worth considering the obvious (but, of course, technically unsubstantiated) notion that nations in this part of the world are notoriously double-dealing when it comes to the West.
More evidence of the cult-like nature of ISIS:
“We here in Afghanistan, we see all the fighters. We learn from them,” says the 17-year-old Afghan boy, holding a gun and swaying back-and-forth. He doesn’t make eye contact as he speaks. “God willing, we want to be like them.” His name is Naimatullah, and he says he has been trained to carry out a suicide mission.
Tens of thousands of children currently live in ISIS-controlled parts of Iraq and Syria, and the group is actively recruiting some of them to be its next generation of fighters. In Children of ISIS, a FRONTLINE digital film, boys who went through its training describe the coercive methods ISIS uses to indoctrinate children to encourage unquestioning loyalty and obedience, as it prepares them to fight.
Albert Speer was one of Adolf Hitler’s closest confidants; he has been called “The Nazi who said sorry.” His memoirs, titled Inside The Third Reich, were written on scraps of paper and smuggled out of Spandau prison, where he served 15 years. The book provides valuable insight into the mind of an ambitious man who was willing, at the least, to look the other way while unimaginable atrocities happened around him.
More books for those interested in criminal psychology and interrogation are on our Bibliography page.
Interested in this field? (Note: The following is the opinion of the editor of this site.) Many qualities make up a strong interrogator. Foremost, I believe, is learning how to become a more mindful person. There are plentiful books written in our era about this subject. However, I recommend this 2,000 year-old philosophical treatise by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, his Meditations, as a solid starting point:
The 9/11 Commission warned that accusations of abuse make it more difficult to win conflicts. From page 380:
“Coalition warfare also requires coalition policies on what to do with enemy captives. Allegations that the United States abused prisoners in its custody make it harder to build the diplomatic, political, and military alliances the government will need. The United States should work with friends to develop mutually agreed-on principles for the detention and humane treatment of captured international terrorists who are not being held under a particular country’s criminal laws. Countries such as Britain, Australia, and Muslim friends, are committed to fighting terrorists. America should be able to reconcile its views on how to balance humanity and security with our nation’s commitment to these same goals.”
“Recommendation: The United States should engage its friends to develop a common coalition approach toward the detention and humane treatment of captured terrorists. New principles might draw upon Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions on the law of armed conflict. That article was specifically designed for those cases in which the usual laws of war did not apply. Its minimum standards are generally accepted throughout the world as customary international law.”