Sunday, May 16, 2004

More than we can bear 

On 9.ll, New York mayor Rudy Guiliani was asked repeatedly how many people had died at the World Trade Centre. At the time, everyone thought it would be in the tens of thousands. But Rudy refused to speculate on numbers and all the irrelevant arguments that would have arisen around any figure he could have given. Instead, he said simply and respectfully "It will be more than we can bear".
I was reminded of this line when I read Seymour Hersh's new article The Gray Zone. There will be "numbers" arguments coming to refute what Hersh has said here, boiling down to the argument that only a relatively few Americans have been involved and that only a relatively few at Gitmo and in Iraq have been tortured, and that it was all for a good cause anyway. This misses the point -- no matter how few or how many have been tortured, its still not only a morally wrong policy but also morally bankrupt. By not following the Geneva Conventions themselves, they have also put their own soldiers in harms way in the future. They have also shamed America and made it question its own moral purpose in the world. This is truly a sad, sad result.

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