Max Boot: Waterboarding ... the other side of the storyRoundup
tags: torture, waterboarding
West notes that when he was an adviser in South Vietnam in 1966 he saw a village police chief named Thanh using “what is now called waterboarding, rubbing lye soap into a wet cloth and placing it across the face of the prisoner. I never saw a prisoner die or not be able to walk out of that room. But they talked. I reported it and our orders were to keep the Marines in our Combined Action Platoon out of that room.”
Our advisers in Iraq don’t have the same option of turning a blind eye. As West notes: “Today, 40 years later, the order would be for the American adviser to physically stop Thanh and to bring him up on charges.” As West notes, that is a misguided attempt to impose our cultural norms elsewhere—you might even call it “cultural imperialism.”
“Neither our advisers nor our military units are involved in waterboarding or other such techniques, be they labeled ‘torture’, or ‘harsh interrogation’ or whatever the vernacular,” he notes. But we should be more tolerant if our allies, who are fighting for their lives and that of their families, practice a harsher brand of counterinsurgency than we’re comfortable with.
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