In the past year I've heard conservatives defend the war in Iraq because of human rights reasons. Because Saddam tortured his people, he had to be removed. I guess they finally gave up on the whole WMD thing. Either way, torture is something Republicans, and especially the Bush administration, will not tolerate – at least some of the time.
It is not important that Bush and his cronies willfully ignore human rights violations around the world (including in their own military), but what is important is that we stop Saddam from torturing his people. The violence and deprivation in the Niger Delta and genocide and AIDS throughout Africa can be overlooked.
Last February, thirty protestors were shot and killed in Ethiopia by police, but this isn't important. Neither is the relentless torture that a fifteen-year-old girl in Nepal endured from her own government last year, which ultimately killed her. And according to Amnesty International, "the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has also been responsible for grave human rights abuses" as well. However, judging from the administration's actions (or lack thereof), these are all instances which can be overlooked, along with the countless other human rights violations and torture that happen worldwide on a regular basis. But one thing that is absolutely unacceptable is Saddam torturing his people. Clearly, we needed to eliminate Saddam's torture and bring peace to Iraq.
After we took down Saddam's regime, the Iraqis thought they would experience a new and prosperous life with freedom and without torture. Then, Abu-Ghraib happened. For those of you who do not know, Abu-Ghraib is a prison in Iraq where Iraqi POWs were kept – and abused.
Ironically, Iraqis were said to hate Saddam because of how he treated them. And we think they like us after this Abu-Ghraib incident? It's hard enough to argue Iraqis liked Americans before the Abu-Ghraib prison scandal, let alone afterwards.
Thankfully, the Bush administration was recently given a chance to correct this with a congressional bill that would ban torture and other inhumane treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody. This bill was proposed by a very prominent and well respected Republican who served in the Vietnam War, Senator John McCain. Just last month, it passed 90-9 in the Senate. At the very least this bill could show the world we do not support torture and the Abu-Ghraib incident was one rare occurrence.
You would think this is something we can all agree on. Torture is bad and should be prohibited. Who can argue otherwise? I'll give you one good guess.
Senator Chuck Hagel, another prominent Republican, was dead on when he said on ABC, "I think the administration is making a terrible mistake in opposing John McCain's amendment on detainees and torture." I agree, Senator.
Why is it that an administration whose members spent their lives avoiding war think they know so much about how wars should be conducted? Bush and Cheney have absolutely zero service in war, but they know the best way to treat POWs? They choose to ignore John McCain, who was a POW himself in Vietnam, because after all, what does John McCain know? He may have been a POW, but this obviously does not qualify him as an expert in regards to torture. But chicken-hawks such as Bush and Cheney know. Give me a break.
Right now we are hated around the world because of our arrogance and the bully perception we've created for ourselves. Senator John McCain put it best when he said, "Our image in the world is suffering very badly, and one of the reasons for it is the perception that we abuse people that we take captive." McCain is exactly right. Whether or not we abuse and torture those in captivity, the world thinks we do. And by opposing this bipartisan measure, the Bush administration is only adding fuel to the fire.
The fact of the matter is that torture should not be condoned by anyone worldwide, much less the country that vowed to remove a dictator because he tortured his people. This is what we call hypocritical. Although torture might be necessary in extreme circumstances, such as protecting America from an imminent attack, it should still be prohibited publicly. By opposing this anti-torture bill, Bush and Cheney are just admitting that we do torture people.
The fact that the Bush administration opposes a bill introduced by a well- respected Republican who was a POW himself is simply outlandish. Moreover, this bill passed 90-9 in a Republican controlled Senate, but the Bush administration still opposes it. If Republican Senators in Washington are beginning to disagree with the Bush administration, maybe there is some truth to the so-called "liberal lies."
Tim Waddingham is a senior, double majoring in speech communication and political science. His column runs every Wednesday in the Collegian.