The Brutal Logic Behind the Torture Madness

Revolution #005, June 12, 2005, posted at

One long hard look at the pictures from Abu Ghraib—and you know the kind of sick sadists who make torture happen at the ground level. All the pathology of a Charles Graner gets puffed up and turned loose on prisoners.

But WHY is all that happening? Why exactly is the U.S. government selecting such thugs, training them, funding them, organizing them—and on a world scale!

And why is all this coming out of the shadows? Why have the heads of the world's most powerful military machine now made torture an open and official cornerstone of their operations?

The U.S. has, of course, always tortured its opponents—but from behind a screen of "plausible deniability" with its CIA "advisors" standing in the background as the dirty work gets done.

But now there is that raw and deliberate openness about torture. The U.S. has openly created a Guantánamo prison camp—no trial, no charges, no contact—kidnapping people all over the world, without law or legal procedure, and bringing them to that hellhole to be isolated for years, brutalized and driven mad.

Why did this White House so deliberately defy and reject the Geneva Accords on the treatment of prisoners? Why have they crudely brushed aside international law and world public opinion?

Why have they so obviously refused to expose or prosecute the interrogators who ran the cellblocks of Abu Ghraib? Why have they blanketly dismissed charges against the commanders who organized the torture on a global scale?

Why have they set all this up? And why are they so determined to justify and continue it?


First of all, it is about raw gangster logic.

The U.S. ruling class saw itself as "the king of the world"—and then someone, out of the blue, attacked on 9/11 right in their own "homeland."

The deaths of 3,000 people (whether in New York or Baghdad) mean nothing to the men like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld— but as world class gangsters they felt they couldn't allow such a hit to go down without retaliation.

And so their response was ruthless and extremely brutal. Many people died in the relentless U.S. bombings of Afghanistan. Thousands were rounded up—and many of them killed on the spot, others packed into metal containers in the hot sun and left to bake to death.

Still others were herded to camps, and then airlifted to camps like Guantánamo. And as is now obvious— many of them had little or nothing to do with politics, warfare or al-Qaida.

U.S. military reports admit that very little "intelligence" has emerged from Guantánamo's interrogation cells—but the brutality continues, to make a point.

These gangsters are pounding the earth—and they want all of humanity to fall back in fear.


On another level, the team now running the White House had been looking for an opportunity to change all the rules of the game. They wanted to come out hard as the sole rulers of the whole world. And had been planning that for years.

And this Bush crew thinks it is about time that the U.S. broke out of the previous framework of alliances and treaties—and imposed itself as the sole superpower, to be obeyed and feared. They want other countries and governments to simply fall in line—and "do the math" about whether to risk angering or defying the U.S.

And look: These guys head a political movement that thinks "bleeding heart" is a curse word! They think upholding "human rights" is for wimps. They think it is "coddling" to give arrested people lawyers, or read them their rights. They think the death penalty will help save their "civilization." They think "international law" and the UN are a plot of "socialists and one-worlders"—and just a way the "Euro-weenies" hold them back.

In other words, these guys really are fascists. What they are doing in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib shows what their "values" really are, and what they will do wherever they get the chance.

And so, in many ways they want all this out in the open—including the extreme brutality of Guantánamo. They want to train a whole section of the U.S. population to belligerently embrace all the brutality—and embrace the moronic "good guys, bad guys" cartoon-view of the world. And they want that so that there are even more forces trained to uphold and carry out the gruesome actions yet to come .

That's what the thinking is at the top of the White House and the Pentagon—and that's what these guys were plotting, long, long before 9/11.


At the same time, let's be clear: this torture and brutality is not just a Republican thang.

The CIA renditions—the moving of prisoners to other countries to be tortured—took a huge leap under Clinton. And there are presidential decrees about all that with his signature on them.

And think about exactly what it means when John Kerry stands up and announces that, if he gets to the White House, he will "hunt down and kill" enemies.

What does it mean when such ugly talk is expected of anyone trying for the presidency? What exactly is involved in Kerry's talk of "hunt down" if not all this machinery of torture, kidnapping, isolation, and U.S. commando raids? And what does the "kill" part mean if not assassinations, executions and death-by-torture?

The leading Democrats and Republicans are at knife-point over many things, but they have a deep unity on the importance of preserving U.S. supremacy in the world, and on pursuing a relentless capitalist exploitation of the planet.

And the need for both torture and unjust war arise from the most fundamental features of their imperialist system. All of this (the bullying of weaker countries, the intrusion by U.S. troops, the torture of captives.. and also the demands for privatization, transparency and even U.S.-style "democratic" forms of governing). all of it is, ultimately and fundamentally, about exploiting the labor and resources of the world.

And as Bob Avakian discusses in "A Way to Understand What's Going On: The Two Pats, And Andrew Sullivan... And Cornel West" there are both political and economic reasons why the Bushites have the initiative now.


As you read these words, dragnets are sweeping through Baghdad neighborhoods. Prisoners are being strung up in their cells. Exhausted people are being questioned and beaten, jolted by electric shock, burned by cigarettes, and sexually humiliated in disgusting ways.

And the men who ordered all this, in the White House and Pentagon, are more and more open in justifying it— because they intend to have this be a permanent and expanding feature of their new world order.

It will not fade away just because pictures have surfaced or because prisoners are speaking out.

This is where the capitalist system has brought us. This is what imperialism means today. And it will be like this, and worse, until the masses of people sweep away this awful global system.