Saturday, December 13, 2014

The healthy man does not torture others

There are various reports in the news recently which further establish that the CIA's use of torture was more extreme than previously understood and that they consistently lied to covered that up. Big surprise. As we speak Angelina Jolie is taking slack over the new movie she directed called Unbroken which talks about Japan's use of torture during the war. Japan is upset with the movie and is talking about boycotting it. Boycotting it because it's true.

Let's be honest, Japan is an ally now and doesn't torture prisoners any more. Yet they did in the past. We can't rewrite history. That is why they were nuked which is a separate dilemma all on it's own. Two wrongs don't make a right. The movie is about the life of Olympian Louis Zamperini. One of the concerns seems to be a claim of cannibalism. I don't know that history well enough to be able to debate the claim. However, the fact that Japan elected a fascist government that was invading countries at the time of Hitler and was torturing prisoners is history.

My point here is that torture is wrong. It's wrong when the fascists do it. It's wrong when the Communists do it. It's wrong when we do it. Yesterday the Vancouver Province ran a profound editorial from the Montreal Gazette about torture. It included the quote which states "The healthy man does not torture others. Generally, it is the tortured who turn into torturers." Carl Jung. That is so true and is in essence my point.

Perhaps the reason there is such an uproar about the movie and why Angelina Jolie is taking such slack over it has nothing to do with Japan and everything to do with the fact that the CIA is now doing the exact same thing. Waterboarding was the tip of the iceberg.

The Montreal Gazette is also reporting that The length to which CIA officials went to mislead everyone, from the White House to Congress to the CIA’s Inspector General, about the true nature of the program is also deeply disturbing. MSN News is reporting that Two U.S. psychologists made $81-million teaching the CIA how to torture.


  1. The cannibalism thing is accurate. The Japanese Army always relied much more on local foraging to feed their troops than did the more modern US Army/US Marines which had prepackaged rations for issue to field personnel. The US strategy of "island hopping", where numerous smaller garrisons were simply bypassed and there by cut off from resupply led to some desperate actions by Japanese troops, many of whom eventually starved to death rather than perishing by bullet or bayonet. Likewise numerous of the island campaigns resulted in similar circumstances, where the US Navy dominated the ocean and the air and no resupply by Japanese ships was possible.

    There were also executions of American prisoners where members of the execution party were invited to eat the heart or other organs. I have books at home which detail the subject, one is academic in nature and describes the circumstances whereby an American aircrew was executed and such occurred, the other is a first person narrative by a man who fought on Guadalcanal and he describes the "subsistence cannibalism" which Japanese troops resorted to, not just against Americans but also against their own.

  2. The cannibalism thing is accurate. I have an excellent book at home (which title I cannot recall at the moment) written by a man who fought on Guadalcanal and he describes the subject at some length.

    The Japanese Army rations basically consisted of rice, supplemented by local foraging efforts. After they were cut off by the "island hopping" nature of the US campaign in the Pacific, even that was not available to them. The Japanese soldier was by all accounts an excellent forager, but months long campaigns often left little to forage. Nothing like a few weeks of artillery barrages to scare away anything edible. There are reports of Japanese soldiers eating not only Americans but also each other.

    In addition there was a case where a US aircrew was shot down and captured, after being held for a while they were executed and members of the execution party ate the heart and other organs. The officer who ordered this was himself executed after the war.

    Japan has always had issues with what they did during the war. Modern schoolchildren are taught that Japan was forced into war by American actions, reports of rape and murder of civilians and captured enemies by Imperial forces are dismissed as propaganda.

    Note that Japanese culture is largely based on shame, sufficient of which is grounds for suicide. When you keep this in mind it's pretty easy to understand why they are not overly eager to acknowledge actions that are as shameful as they get.


Comments are moderated so there will be a delay before they appear on the blog.