Friday, May 15, 2009

How About a National Student Council on the Origins of War and Torture?

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 5/15/09

The question today should not be whether torture “doesn’t work,” as several major essayists have said this past week, or whether it does as Charles Krauthammer claims today in The Washington Post. There is never an ethical or moral basis for that discussion. It is like asking under what situations would rape most effectively advance the opportunity for gaining good progeny? The question should now be: What have we become?

Critters like Krauthammer and Dick Cheney can only advance to the head of the society and territorialize and commandeer it when the society itself has yielded its moral center. There is no turning back from this condition. Obama is timid and indecisive. Hardly a day goes by when Max Boot or Robert Kagan does not praise his sterling advancement of the Bush Doctrine even into the Punjab. And the MoveOn crowd; that expedient leisure class which so abhorred the war in Iraq, has said little about Obama’s troop increase in Afghanistan now that it has its own man at the helm.

A new generation is needed. A new start is needed. During the crises in Rwanda and Bosnia, some creative students at Wake Forest University initiated A National Student Conference for War and Peace to get to their own solutions to these situations when the adults in charge in the Clinton administration were conspicuously at a loss. It was a good idea but the time was not ready. Perhaps it is now.

The rising generation needs to ask; needs to know, exactly how did we get into the war on Iraq? Where did it start philosophically? Who initiated the plans and to what purpose? How did the Land of the Free fall to disgrace by initiating strategies of torture and humiliation?

No Jon Stewart, no Steven Colbert. No greeting human tragedy with irony and satire. It equals appeasement and denial. No involvement with the Congress of Easter Peeps. They are accomplice to the creation and even now have wormed their way to the highest levels of Obama’s administration as it heads into Afghanistan and Pakistan. Once again, students should trust only themselves.

But a good mentor here would be Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief who happens now to teach at William and Mary, Jefferson’s old school.

Finding a "smoking gun" linking Iraq and al Qaeda became the main purpose of the abusive interrogation program the Bush administration authorized in 2002, Wilkerson, a former State Department official, told CNN.

Wilkerson wrote that the interrogation program began in April and May of 2002, and then-Vice President Cheney's office kept close tabs on the questioning.

Colonel Wilkerson was brave when it was needed to be brave and has been brave ever since. He has been undaunted in his denunciation of the war on Iraq and its Constitutional abuses. It would be a brave place for a new generation to awaken.