Over the last few years there has been considerable comment about the use of torture as a means of interrogation by the US. I personally find such methods abhorrent and they are probably ultimately counterproductive. I do understand the need for extreme measures under the most compelling and dangerous circumstances to our nation’s security but those times should be so rare as to not require intense worry. I believe we haven’t had an overt policy that would rise to the level of torture on a systematic basis and the very fact that we have public debate about such matters reveals the concern with have as a nation to adhere to standards of decency and honor. It is always very good though when discussing a emotional topic to put some historical perspective on the issue to assess current practices. The most egregious allegations have been those of waterboarding where the enemy is subjected to a wet clothe covering his face and it makes him short of breath and simulates drowning.
In the early stages of the Communist revolution in 1921 the Commies established their secret police to control the population and any ideas or expressions of thought contrary to the percieved Soviet beliefs. The common alleged crime at the time was “anti-Soviet subversion” whatever the heck that was. Needless to say it was whatever those in power wanted it to be. Free speech and totalarian rule don’t match up well. Free speech may lead to movements contrary to the ruling party’s wishes and that is not to be tolerated. The following is an extensive quote regarding some of the methods of torture utilized by the Cheka (Soviet Secret Police of that day). Each provine apparently had it own preferred torture.
“In Kharkov they burned the victim’s hands in boiling water until the blistered skin could be peeled off. The Tsaritsyn Cheka sawed its victims’ bones in half. In Voronezh they rolled their naked victims in nail-studded barrels. In Armivir they crushed their skulls by tightening a leather strap with an iron bold around the head. In Kiev they affixed a cage with rats to the victim’s torso and heated it so the enraged rats ate their way through the victim’s guts in a effort to escape. In Odessa they chained their victims to planks and pushed them slowly into a furnace or tank of boiling water. A favorite winter torture was to pour water on the naked victims until they became living ice statues. Another had the victims buried alive or kept in a coffin with a corpse.” From Andrew Roberts work on the English Speaking Peoples. If you think those atrocities are bad, do some homework on the Japs and their treatment of prisoners during WWII.
And to think this was all before Stalin came to power and made an assembly line of torture to squash any possible disagreement or argument counter to Communist philosophy. The numbers he killed and tortured run into the millions.
We have our faults and and have committed some wrongs along the path of our emergence as a world power. But by any standard they have been brief, isolated and rebuked. Thank God we have never indulged in the behavoir described as a basic tenet of our public policy. May we always maintain our nobility of heart and do harm only for the “good war” which does happen regrettably from time to time.
Speaking of the Soviets many of you may not recall that we had troops stationed there at the time of these tortures. From roughly 1919 to 1921 we and the British and French had troops there trying to restore some order in Russia and half heartedly attempting to thwart the Communist takeover. We gave aid and comfort to the “Whites” (Royalists and democrats) against the Reds, the Commies. We had soldiers killed. It was a real war but short lived and none of the western allies after the carnage of WWI had the stomach or resources to get involved in a long war in that heartland of euro-asia. We left. And now you know some of the story. You are encouraged to read histories of the Commies, Stalin and the Great War. There are many available.