In the past week I’ve been reading Andrew Sullivan’s blog with regularity. I heard him on a Larry King segment about ten days ago. Today one of the stories on his blog deals with a very troubling moral dilemma. Andrew in his regular work for Time Magazine has reviewed a recently published book, “Oath Betrayed.” The book details how doctors became actively involved in the torture of inmates at both Guantanamo and in Iraq. In the book, its author Dr. Stephen Miles, outlines how the medical profession became corrupted by the Bush-Cheney interrogation rules. I submit that the doctors were not corrupted by those rules, but that they allowed themselves to be corrupted by the rules. There is a real difference and I believe it was articulated at the Nurenburg trials following World War II. What really happened is that the doctors became agents of the status quo.
Within all of us exist the seeds of violence and cruelty. They must be watered in order to flourish, but they are there. We can easily become products of the environment in which we live. I submit that these doctors became products of an environment that dehumanized prisoners. The Geneva Conventions were enacted for a reason. I shuddered when the Bush-Cheney Administration stated that these “illegal combatants” were not really soldiers and that they were not subject to the rules of war, as if there really were any rules in war. At some point these doctors and this policy will be judged. It may be years from now but there will come a time of judgement. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is Newton’s third law and it applies not just to matter but to human dynamics as well. It’s a universal principle. It is the yin and yang of life. Peace.
torture, medical ethics, war, bush, guantanamo, iraq