Does anybody remember the speech that George H.W. Bush gave to a joint session of Congress on the occasion of celebrating victory in the first Gulf War?
It was March 6, 1991.
President Bush was brought to tears by something he said about America.
“I’m sure that many of you saw on the television the unforgettable scene of four terrified Iraqi soldiers surrendering. They emerged from their bunker, tears streaming from their eyes, fearing the worst. And then there was an American soldier. Remember what he said? He said, ‘It’s okay. You’re all right now. You’re all right now.’ That sure says a lot about America, a lot about who we are.”
The President was so moved talking about this scene, he pulled out his handkerchief to blow his nose because of the tears in his eye.
Only six months previously, the President had gone before a joint Session of Congress to announce the onset of the war, clarifying the goals. Of all odd coincidences, this speech occurred on 9/11 (1990). One goal, Mr. Bush said, was “to defend civilized values around the world.”
All during the war, we were given by the American government and the news media the harsh contrasts between the way Americans are vs. the way Iraqis under the dictatorship were. In the first week of the war, the cover of Newsweek magazine showed a close-up of an American pilot–Jeffrey Zaun–whose face was puffed up from beatings and cigarette burns. The headline read “The POWs: Torture and Torment.”
Torture can not be justified because of the cruelty of terrorism. We take pride that we are NOT like them!
Torture can also not be justified for the sake of getting information. The American veterans who have been tortured are strongly united in saying that the tactic fails. Prisoners simply tell the captors what they want to hear.
Torture merely confirms in the minds of captives that the enemy acting with such barbarism towards them is indeed worth hating.
The airing of this barbaric practice by the side that is portrayed as civilized in this fight against terrorism is painful. I cringe reading the accounts of what Americans did–with government approval. But this IS the way to restore what we value in our nationality.
Much of what our armed forces and secret agents do is unseen by the American public. We have to take it on faith that they are doing us proud. Let’s hope it won’t be too soon before our faithfulness is proven once again to be foolish.