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:
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
John Pilger
Bring Julian Assange Home
Conn Hallinan
The Spanish Labyrinth
Patrick Cockburn
Attacking Hodeidah is a Deliberate Act of Cruelty by the Trump Administration
Gary Leupp
Trump Gives Bibi Whatever He Wants
Thomas Knapp
Child Abductions: A Conversation It’s Hard to Believe We’re Even Having
Robert Fisk
I Spoke to Palestinians Who Still Hold the Keys to Homes They Fled Decades Ago – Many are Still Determined to Return
Steve Early
Requiem for a Steelworker: Mon Valley Memories of Oil Can Eddie
Jim Scheff
Protect Our National Forests From an Increase in Logging
Adam Parsons
Reclaiming the UN’s Radical Vision of Global Economic Justice
Dean Baker
Manufacturing Production Falls in May and No One Notices
Laura Flanders
Bottom-Up Wins in Virginia’s Primaries
Binoy Kampmark
The Anguish for Lost Buildings: Embers and Death at the Victoria Park Hotel
Weekend Edition
June 15, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Kovalik
The US & Nicaragua: a Case Study in Historical Amnesia & Blindness
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Yellow Journalism and the New Cold War
Charles Pierson
The Day the US Became an Empire
Jonathan Cook
How the Corporate Media Enslave Us to a World of Illusions
Ajamu Baraka
North Korea Issue is Not De-nuclearization But De-Colonization
Andrew Levine
Midterms Coming: Antinomy Ahead
Louisa Willcox
New Information on 2017 Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Deaths Should Nix Trophy Hunting in Core Habitat
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Singapore Fling
Ron Jacobs
What’s So Bad About Peace, Man?
Robert Hunziker
State of the Climate – It’s Alarming!
L. Michael Hager
Acts and Omissions: The NYT’s Flawed Coverage of the Gaza Protest
Dave Lindorff
However Tenuous and Whatever His Motives, Trump’s Summit Agreement with Kim is Praiseworthy
Robert Fantina
Palestine, the United Nations and the Right of Return
Brian Cloughley
Sabre-Rattling With Russia
Chris Wright
To Be or Not to Be? That’s the Question
David Rosen
Why Do Establishment Feminists Hate Sex Workers?
Victor Grossman
A Key Congress in Leipzig
John Eskow
“It’s All Kinderspiel!” Trump, MSNBC, and the 24/7 Horseshit Roundelay
Paul Buhle
The Russians are Coming!
Joyce Nelson
The NED’s Useful Idiots
Lindsay Koshgarian
Trump’s Giving Diplomacy a Chance. His Critics Should, Too
Louis Proyect
American Nativism: From the Chinese Exclusion Act to Trump
Stan Malinowitz
On the Elections in Colombia
Camilo Mejia
Open Letter to Amnesty International on Nicaragua From a Former Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience
David Krieger
An Assessment of the Trump-Kim Singapore Summit
Jonah Raskin
Cannabis in California: a Report From Sacramento
Josh Hoxie
Just How Rich Are the Ultra Rich?
CJ Hopkins
Awaiting the Putin-Nazi Apocalypse
Mona Younis
We’re the Wealthiest Country on Earth, But Over 40 Percent of Us Live in or Near Poverty
Dean Baker
Not Everything Trump Says on Trade is Wrong
James Munson
Trading Places: the Other 1% and the .001% Who Won’t Save Them
Rivera Sun
Stop Crony Capitalism: Protect the Net!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail