Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Speaking of the Bataan Death March...

...which Borepatch was, a couple of weeks ago, news comes from around that same time the oldest survivor of the Death March passed away, at age 105.

Albert "Doc" Brown was nearly 40 when the Death March took place, and thus lived for another 60 years after WWII ended. It must have seemed to him like starting a new life, and 60 years would qualify as a complete lifetime to nearly anyone.

Men like Brown who survived the Bataan Death March itself were hardly free of care; the Japanese treatment of prisoners of war during WWII was barbarous and inhumane. Those men who survived in the Philippine POW camps until the Japanese were forced to evacuate faced the additional horrors of the Hell Ships before they reached their final destination of POW camps on the Japanese home islands.

During the controversy over prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, it was often claimed that, if we allowed "torture" of Muslim detainees that it would lead to Americans being tortured in turn. Well, here's the dirty little secret: with the exception of the Germans during WWII, Americans have been tortured in every war the US has fought in the last 60 years. The Japanese tortured, the North Koreans and Chinese tortured, the North Vietnamese tortured, and so did Saddam Hussein's Iraqis and so do the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Nor am I fully excusing the Germans, whose treatment of POW's was humane only in comparison to the Japanese. So to say that the US should refrain from using "enhanced techniques" of interrogation on terrorists because enemies will retaliate with torture is naive at best and disingenuous at worst.


Borepatch said...

Well said

BobG said...

There is also another difference between the US and those other countries; a lot of the cruel treatment and torture was not to get information, but merely for the hell of it. I've known people who spent time in POW camps from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, and they all have seen acts done that would be unthinkable in American POW camps.
In some Japanese POW camps, for instance, there were cases of some of the younger soldiers being gang-sodomized by soldiers, and other sorts of treatment that had no other purpose other than simple cruelty.