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irregular times logoUnderstanding Torture: Patterns in the Big Picture

Given the widespread, systemic nature of the torture used by the American military against their prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba, it can be difficult to understand the power of the torture's impact upon our society. Every day, we learn about new kinds of torture used by American soldiers. We also get a rapid fire of new details confirming that the orders to torture prisoners came from the very top of the military command structure, at the core of the Bush Administration. Americans have become disoriented in a thick moral nausea as new waves of horror smash layer after layer of our illusions.

Americans intuitively know that the torture conducted under the authority of the Bush White House has shaken the very foundation of America's democracy. However, when Americans are asked to explain why the torture is so disturbing, they often have a difficult time expressing the source of their repulsion.

The best way to overcome the fog of incoherent terror that has resulted from the revelations of torture is to stand back and examine the big picture of trends that enabled the torture to happen. It's really not the individual sufferings of particular prisoners that disturb us most. Instead, it is the awful truth about the general condition of American culture, revealed through the widespread use of torture in the name of our nation, that makes us shudder.

For that reason, we here at Irregular Times are beginning a short series of articles exploring the broad social context that has encouraged the common practice of torture by the Bush Administration. In these articles, we identify the many links between the extreme behavior of American soldiers overseas and the decisions of civilian leadership within American borders.

The truth hurts, but it doesn't hurt us as much as it hurts the people suffering in our custody.

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