Friday, June 17, 2005

Does Gary Trudeau know anything about history?

Today's Doonesbury has a continuing skit about a CIA "torture" class, in which one of the students asks.

Yeah, sir, I am a bit confused, World War II was a "new type of war" too, over 50 million people were killed. Yet somehow we managed to defeat a lawless enemy without resorting to torture. What is the difference between now and then?

To which the instructor replied with the punchline.

A spineless president.

Now I understand that this is just a comic strip, but presumably Trudeau is trying to make a serious comparison here, therein lies the humor. The fact is though, that there was torture and abuse of prisoners by US and Allied troops in WWII, just like there are in all wars, unfortunately. Given the scale of the war, the abuses were way beyond what we see now, there just wasn't any handwringing self flagellation over it. There were even cases of enemy prisoners being shot on site, but it was overlooked as just the unfortunate side effects of a bloody war.

The biggest irony of this lies in the fact that people are going crazy over the internment of 500 or so terrorists, captured on foreign battlefields and placed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Amnesty International hyperbolically called it "the gulag of our times". Senator Durbin compared it to Nazi Germany and Pol Pot. But what did this "spineless president" FDR do during WWII? He interned over 100,000 Japanese Americans, for years at a time, all without charges! I guess Mr. Trudeau forgot about that part.