At last some straight talking about the “special relationship” from George W Bush. He has told The Times it doesn’t matter what people in England think of him now, and it didn’t matter then, when he was President.
At last some straight talking about the “special relationship” from George W Bush. He has told The Times it doesn’t matter what people in England think of him now, and it didn’t matter then, when he was President. His interview contains a typically blunt defence of torture (although he doesn’t regard waterboarding as torture) as having saved British lives, preventing attacks on Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf.
Who knows whether that is true? Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Because President Bush (for that is the title he keeps until he dies) has revealed his article of faith that what we regard as torture works : it is the basic dilemma you might hear around any table, at any bar or even television studio. If you know you can prevent an attack can you justify torture? If you can justify the pre-emptive killing of a suicide bomber, and few people would oppose that, then why not his/her torture? Coming the day after that moving testimony at the 7/7 Inquest when we saw Daniel Biddle, who had his legs blown off, and lost one eye and his spleen in the Edgware Road bomb the dilemma is all the more acute. If you could prevent Daniel’s suffering by waterboarding the man who detonated the bomb and killed himself in any case would you?
UPDATE : Well here’s how one other 7/7 survivor – Rachel North – feels about the issue
Some people, if twitter is anything to go by, think the proposition above is an almost irresponsible one to throw out there again. Obviously, I profoundly disagree. Apart from the fact that the point of this blog is in part to challenge and make anyone reading it think about and test their beliefs what do you think has happened to the people who conducted what Britain defines as torture for the United States? Or to the British agents who visited Guantanamo (and possibly other CIA sites around the world) when suspects were being held and questioned? Or to the people who absolutely supported the actions and arguments of the Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney ideology?
They haven’t gone away, or changed their minds just because Barack Obama is in the White House. George Bush’s fascinating interview with James Harding in The Times makes that abundantly clear. And what the Tea Party movement tells us is that there is every chance the believers could be back in power within years. In any case there are plenty of other regimes with whom we routinely deal and share intelligence who still use at least questionable and at worst appalling methods.
Whether Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan there are lots of human rights questions organisations like Amnesty would like to pose. Even a democracy like India with liberal traditions is often accused of human rights violations in places like Kashmir (which they, like the others, deny). But the argument used to justify torture will always endure because somewhere somebody like George Bush will believe it works. And their own sense of humanity will not be enough to stop them giving it a try because like George Bush they will believe they are serving a greater good. That’s why we should always keep testing what we really think about it as individuals.