x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Of human damage: torture and the US soldier

The book is not about the CIA. It considers why US forces turned to torture by recounting the experience of ordinary soldiers.

None of Us Were Like This Before: American Soldiers and Torture
Joshua ES Phillips 
Verso
Dh105
None of Us Were Like This Before: American Soldiers and Torture Joshua ES Phillips Verso Dh105

One of the long-standing arguments against the use of torture is that it dehumanises the torturers and in turn the country that allows the practice. In the Bush-Cheney era this was considered a naive or old-fashioned view. Joshua Phillips' book shows that America's leaders were wrong. Lack of courage and leadership allowed detainees to be tortured (a word politicians never used, preferring the term "abused") in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Phillips also writes that the CIA, perceived as the dark master of international espionage, held far fewer detainees than the military during the war on terror: about 100 in the so-called black sites compared with the tens of thousands taken by the military. But the book is not about the CIA. It considers why US forces turned to torture by recounting the experience of ordinary soldiers. The author says responsibility for their behaviour went right up the chain of command to the Pentagon. When these men returned home they realised it was not just their victims who were damaged psychologically. They were too.