Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

I finally sat down and watched the Republican debate the other night thinking that, by now, there may be some intelligent discussion about issues and fewer insults among the candidates.  It did seem to be a little more civilized, and I actually heard some real debate (although to call it intelligent would be stretching it a bit) about a few of the primary hot topics on the ticket this year.  It was a definite improvement over the playground antics of the last few Republican debacles I saw.

Still, from the very beginning, this pre-election posturing has created serious doubt in my mind about the health and future development of this nation domestically and as a vital partner in the global family.

Over and over again Donald Trump and the other candidates have demonstrated, not only a lack of basic knowledge in the areas of international law, foreign policy, and diplomacy, but they have shown that they have no respect, care, and even less understanding for the general populace of this country. They are unable for even two hours to have a reasoned debate on serious issues that mean life and death to many people without resorting to insults and name-calling.  And above all else, they display not only disrespect but contempt for President Obama, and in an almost proud way.  Not one of these men deserves to be the president’s butler.  

Assuming, though, that one of them will be the presidential candidate, I have been trying to figure them out by how they stand on the issues.  Not an easy task when much of their chatter is about bashing one another and deflecting the important questions.

Both Trump and Cruz have clearly stated they will make torture standard operating procedure in times of war and when dealing with terrorists. During the debate on February 6 in New Hampshire, Trump declared that he’d bring back waterboarding and “worse.” Cruz spent a lot of time explaining (incorrectly) that waterboarding is not, by legal definition, torture.

I’m focusing on this particular issue because it not only speaks to the characters of the people involved, but the decisions that are made regarding the use of torture will have ramifications for everyone involved, not just the terrorists we capture. But I’ll get to that in a minute. Also, the public isn’t always aware of the specifics of the legalities surrounding torture and politicians often take advantage of that to influence their vote.

Torture is illegal at all times under international law.  Period.  The fact that we happen to live in the United States does not give us any special privilege or right to commit torture. Period.  Just because we have been attacked by someone does not give us the right to torture someone we think may have information about the attack. In fact, it’s been researched and proven that torturing someone for information does not elicit useful, usable data.

Trump either doesn’t know this, or doesn’t care and was simply trolling for voters on Saturday, “‘You can say what you want,’ he said [again] on Sunday. ‘I have no doubt that it does work in term[s] of information and other things.'”

Cruz has limited knowledge as to what constitutes torture, defining it as: “…excruciating pain that is equivalent to losing organs and systems…” (Saturday debate) and claims that waterboarding does not fall under the definition.

The full definition follows:


“torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

(2)“severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—


the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;


the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;


the threat of imminent death; or


the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality…”
Waterboarding does fall under the definition of torture.  I wonder if any of our esteemed politicians  has ever read the Convention Against Torture or the US Laws prohibiting torture.  I am actually reading The Official Senate Report on CIA Torture – I am beginning to wonder if anyone in the senate even read it.  It seems that, if one is planning to make policy change about it, one should know what laws he plans to violate.
In just this one instance, candidates who show their “patriotism” and anger toward the enemy by demonstrating a desire for brutal and painful payback will only be escalating the violence and hate that is perpetuated toward us. Because if we capture and systematically torture and otherwise inhumanely treat suspected prisoners and terrorists, there is no reason other countries cannot and will not do the same. We have forces stationed in far more countries than anyone else does in the world.  The argument we make is that we are simply doing it for our security.  Who is to say they are not doing it for their own, as well?
We need someone with intelligence, experience in foreign and diplomatic affairs, knowledge of international law, the understanding that there will be times others may need to be consulted and the humility to say “I don’t know,” and someone who is not going to indiscriminately bomb a country based on information gathered that could be suspect.  And we need someone who knows how to talk to people as equals, without judging.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not feeling very hopeful.