FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Lessons from Sa’di of Shiraz on "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques"

Sa’di, the thirteen century Iranian poet, was a man for all seasons. Distinct among his peers for a rare poetic talent and a sharp humor, he was a traveler, teacher, and master ghazal writer all in one. But, above all, he loved to tease and to question. In a most serious love poem, he warned the beloved: I was ruined by your love. I will not go to others to get well. And lest the beloved gets all the credit for uniqueness, he added: broken gold vessels cannot be repaired with glue. In real life, Sa’di offered his own glue for fixing broken lives and social relations, a set of compassionate and pragmatic ethical teachings published in his two celebrated books, the Orchard, and the Rose Garden. Despite hailing from the 13th century Iran, what Sa’di has to offer is relevant to our contemporary lives in the 21st century U.S. Let me tell you how I found him to be alluding to “enhanced” interrogation techniques (pc for torture), and the House Resolution 362, when reading The Orchard last week: “Children of Adam are limbs in a single body,” Sa’di concluded an anecdote. “If one is hurt, none will be able to rest.” Let me elaborate.

The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) who earned the 1997 Nobel for Peace, due to their efforts to ban Landmines, have just published an important 120 page report. Prepared by tens of physicians and other health professionals, the report looks into systematic use of torture by the United States during its interrogations of detainees at US detention facilities, including those at Guantanamo Bay, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan. In the words of General Antonio Taguba, himself a US army official, the report “tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture.” He goes on to say “This story is not only written in words: it is scrawled for the rest of these individual’s lives on their bodies and minds.”

The report is fraught with gory details pointing to physical violence, psychological abuse, and sexual humiliation.  However, as you move forward, if you have the stomach to read the details, something rather unexpected happens. You start to feel sorry not just for those subjected to these “enhanced” interrogation techniques but also for those who implemented them. This is not because it is easy to overlook the responsibility of the torturers. It is because you know deep down that no one can injure someone else to this degree without injuring himself or herself in the process. And you don’t have to struggle to explain the reasoning behind your feeling. Sa’di has. If one limb is injured, the whole body suffers. Interrogation techniques may have been “enhanced” so the inflicted pain leaves minimal trace in the tortured body. But nothing can protect the torturer from knowing what he, or she, has done. The global human connection, which Sa’di refers to, is written into our beings.

Almost at the same time that the PHR report was released, US Congressman Ackerman proposed a legislation (House Resolution 362) which calls for intensifying the sanctions on Iran and imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran. Analysts say that this would require a US naval blockade in the Strait of Hormuz, which amounts to an act of war! Are we talking about more wars, more prisons, and more “enhanced” interrogation techniques? How many more limbs can we hurt before the whole body goes into a state of shock? Even Sa’di refrained from taking the metaphor that far. Perhaps he hoped we would be wiser.

FATEMEH KESHAVARZ is Chair of the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literature at Washington University and the author of Jasmine and Stars: Reading more than Lolita in Tehran. She is currently working on a monograph on the Medieval Persian Poet, Sa’di of Shiraz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman - TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail