Chinese Communists Remind American Leftists What Torture Really Is

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Zhou-Wangyan-600

Obama, Thomas Friedman and other progressives constantly talk about how much America needs to be more like China, but this is a little reminder of what China really is and how is really does things.

The local Chinese official remembers all too clearly the panic he felt in Room 109. He had refused again and again to confess to bribery he says he didn’t commit, and his four Communist Party interrogators were forcing his legs farther apart than they could go.

Zhou Wangyan begged them to stop. But the men taunted him and kept pushing.

Then, with a loud “ka-cha,” his left thigh bone snapped. The sickening crunch reverberated in his mind, nearly drowning out his howls of pain and the frantic pounding of his heart.

This incidentally is also what torture looks like. And Gitmo isn’t it.

Zhou said he was deprived of sleep and food, nearly drowned, whipped with wires and forced to eat excrement. The others reported being turned into human punching bags, strung up by the wrists from high windows, or dragged along the floor, face down, by their feet…

Local anti-graft officials on a Hunan online forum in February last year denied Zhou was tortured, saying he injured himself by slipping in the bathroom.

…On at least three nights, they pinned him down and force-fed him feces and urine with a spoon. They dubbed the meals “American Western Feast” and “Eight Treasures Porridge.”

Some of this is actually the result of China’s dysfunctional hybrid system of crony capitalism and Communist bureaucracy which is just as messy and unstable as our version of it. The corruption in both sectors is tremendous and the attempts at controlling it are themselves corrupted by corruption. China is cracking up though it isn’t obvious.

  • A Z

    “China is cracking up though it isn’t obvious.”

    Don’t know for sure, but Forbes magazine had a disturbing article by Gordon Chang about Chinese corporation debt, missing interest payments and over capacity in everything from coal to iron ore to wind turbine production to solar panels.

    “Whistling Past The Graveyard After China’s 1st Ever Bond Default”

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonchang/2014/03/09/whistling-past-the-graveyard-after-chinas-1st-ever-bond-default/

    IMO Gordon G. Chang is a trusted essayist.

  • Texas Patriot

    China is evolving, but the fact that America has reverted to the medieval practice of waterboarding prisoners to extract information has not helped the process, and the fact that an Israeli citizen is now defending American torture makes a total mockery of everything Israel is supposed to stand for. What a joke.

    • tagalog

      Waterboarding is medieval? Well maybe, but when I think of medieval tortures, I think of the Iron Maiden, the rack, thumbscrews, like that; you know, REAL torture.

      • Texas Patriot

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterboarding

        Waterboarding dates back to the 1500s when it was first used by the Spanish in the interrogation of prisoners. Christopher Hitchens was as skeptical as many of you are that water boarding could properly be regarded as torture, so he tried it himself. His conclusion? “Believe me. It’s torture.” The way he put it, water boarding is not the simulation of drowning, it is drowning. Wars are not won with barbarity and torture. They’re won with superior morality, superior strategy, superior intelligence, and superior technology. America and Israel should know better, Daniel Greenfield should know better, and each of you should know better than to think that torture is an appropriate tool in the war against islamic jihad.

        For almost two hundred years, America evolved toward becoming the most moral, technologically advanced, and economically productive nation on earth. All of those trends have steadily reversed since the 1960s, and we are now on the downward slope in every category. China and Russia, on the other hand, are moving in the direction of greater democratic freedoms, more highly advanced technology, and greater economic productivity. To be proud that our nation has recently resorted to the pre-modern barbarism of torturing captive and helpless prisoners is a slap in the face to every American who ever fought and died for the idea that America was destined to be the greatest nation in the history of the world, and every American who is in favor of it for any reason under any circumstances should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

        The bottom line is that if we want to win the war against the Islamic jihadists who are now maneuvering America, Israel, and every civilized nation in the world to put us on the ropes and have us at their mercy, we are going to need to seize the moral high ground, take the moral high road, and start planning and implementing a decisive battle plan to destroy the forces of Islamic jihad wherever they may exist, so as to ensure the ultimate victory of individual freedom and human dignity, technological progress, and economic prosperity among the peoples of the world, and that’s what I’m looking for from this President and every future American President going forward. And as for all you Cold Warriors who are more comfortable fighting an enemy you can see rather than one you can’t, wake up. Russia and China may be our emerging competitors in the moral, technological, and economic spheres, but they are not our enemies in this war. They’re in the bullseye of Islamic jihad as much as any other non-Muslim nation, and if we want to have any chance of winning at all, we’re going to need the full cooperation of Russia, China, Israel, and all of our traditional allies.

        • tagalog

          I said “maybe;” I’ll take your word for it being medieval.

          There was no need for the lengthy rant as far as I’m concerned; I agree with everything you say.

          I WOULD suggest that the word of Christopher Hitchens is entitled to respect, but his conclusion is purely subjective. Nevertheless, I believe it.

          And not one of the conclusions you’ve jumped to about me is true. They’re all completely wrong.

          • Texas Patriot

            Not a problem, Tag. If what I said does not apply to you, don’t worry about it. Those who are in favor of using torture against captive and helpless prisoners of war know who they are, and they’re the ones I’m talking about.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            The problem is that defining torture is difficult to do. Under pressure, American citizens that value the constitution some times judged differently than we do at this point.

            That doesn’t make us morally equivalent to the regime in China. It does however mean that we’ve got to come up with better overall strategies rather than waiting for the big surprise of finding out that Islam might not always be a religion of peace.

            Except of course for those peaceful Iranians who talk a big game but really they’re just trying to romance us.

          • Texas Patriot

            OFM: “The problem is that defining torture is difficult to do.”

            It’s not that hard. For our purposes here, the Golden Rule should be the standard of what is and what it isn’t torture, and there is no room for double standards. How we treat others will determine how we should be treated. If we don’t want our enemies doing it to our soldiers who fall into their custody, we shouldn’t do it to their soldiers who fall into our custody; and if we do it to theirs, we can’t complain if they do it to ours. There is nothing more telling about the real values of any culture than how they treat captive and helpless human beings who have fallen alive into their custody and their power.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “It’s not that hard. For this purpose, the Golden Rule should be the standard of what is and what it isn’t torture. How we treat others will determine how we should be treated, and there is no room for double standards.”

            Here’s the thing; we’re applying the Golden Rule to them by treating them as they treat us. Actually they only get a small fraction, because we’re not collectivists as a fundamental principal. But people in war represent their respective teams. Warfare is a breakdown of the Golden Rule, wouldn’t you say?

            However, I don’t think enhanced interrogations are a good policy. I’m just not so delusional to think that people who creep over the line somehow turn our nation in to the evil ones.

            “If we don’t want our enemies doing it to our soldiers who fall into their custody and their power, we shouldn’t do it to their soldiers who fall into our custody and our power; and if we do it to theirs, we can’t complain if they do it to ours.”

            That’s why we enter in to treaties with other sovereigns when there is any possible hope that they’ll honor them. Jihadis have been torturing people since long before America was even discovered by Europeans. They won’t stop until jihad is completely discredited. Which means Islam must go away. Changing our policies towards unlawful combatants is not something we should do in order to appeal to their sense of morality. It won’t get you anywhere. In fact it will convince most of them that it’s yet another bit of evidence that Allah has struck fear in the heart of the infidel and they’ll laugh about how weak we are as evidenced by our fears about torturing prisoners. They’ll laugh as they’re eating the liver of a Christian child or perhaps an American soldier when they get that chance and inclination.

            If you want to make moral arguments you’ll have to come up with a more rational basis than inspiring jihadis to treat others better.

            I think that we should treat them “special” but not in physically brutal ways. I do not think they have any rights other than due process. And the process due to unlawful combatants is almost nothing. But what we should do is use medical persuasion rather than physical torture. Manipulating their sense of time and place is also effective and totally fair for these lowest of all criminals if we have a need to get information from them.

            And I don’t have a problem with waterboarding unless it goes too far, and there are no real objective standards for determining where that line should be drawn. And that’s the argument against it. Not because it makes us evil by contemplating making people uncomfortable or fearful, but the slippery slope is just too dangerous to manage.

            We need rules that can be enforced consistently and justified rationally. I don’t favor waterboarding going forward but I’m not especially harsh in my criticism about those who did it during the first years of the War on (Islamic jihadi) Terror.

          • Texas Patriot

            You’ve used faulty logic to work yourself into a corner from which there is no escape. Good luck to you.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            In recognizing that no nation can be morally pure even if it strives to be?

            I call that reality. It doesn’t mean that I like it.

          • Texas Patriot

            What it means is that you have sacrificed the moral idealism and high regard for human rights that makes America exceptional and worth fighting for in the first place. It’s a fatal error and one that many make in the name of pragmatism and realism.

            The Golden Rule does not mean that we have forfeited the right of self-defense, nor does it mean that the possibility of radical preemptive strikes against legitimate military targets is foreclosed to us. We should be very aggressive and ruthless against those nations and their surrogates who would make war on us. It is our right and our duty as Americans to do so in order to preserve our own nation. But that does not mean that we are entitled to subject captive and helpless prisoners of war to torture or other cruel and inhuman treatment. Torturing captive and helpless prisoners of war is grossly un-American and inhuman and of only limited practical utility at best. Prisoners being tortured will say anything to stop the torture, and whatever they say is almost guaranteed to be false or out of date. As for the totally misguided and false idea that torturing prisoners “saves lives”, do you really think it has done America any good? After more than ten years and trillions of dollars down the tube and countless American families destroyed, the forces of Islamic jihad are stronger than ever.

            But you’ve obviously made up your mind, and I can see that there is nothing I can say or do to change your way of thinking. However, if you think that being the evil and cruel Sheriff of Nottingham with secret prisons, secret torture chambers, and secret interrogation techniques is going to get you where you want to go, either in this life or the next, I think you are in for a tremendous surprise.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            I don’t think you actually understood what I wrote.

          • Texas Patriot

            I understand what you wrote. But you are deluding yourself if you think that torturing captive and helpless prisoners of war doesn’t constitute a total rejection and abandonment of precisely the thing that separates America from every nation in the history of the world and the very thing which makes America truly exceptional and, as Abraham Lincoln said, “the last best hope of earth”.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            Did you understand this?

            “However, I don’t think enhanced interrogations are a good policy. I’m just not so delusional to think that people who creep over the line somehow turn our nation in to the evil ones.”

          • Texas Patriot

            OFM: “I’m just not so delusional to think that people who creep over the line somehow turn our nation in to the evil ones.”

            It would be convenient (and comforting) if that were true, but it’s not. The citizens of democratic nations are ultimately responsible for acts committed under the authority of duly elected, duly authorized, and duly empowered officials. If the officials “creep over the line”, the nation creeps over the line.

            By authorizing the behavior, by permitting the behavior and/or by acquiescing in the behavior, the citizens of a democracy effectively ratify, approve, and condone the behavior of the public officials acting on their behalf and in their name. It follows, therefore, all acts or behavior of any kind done in the name of America by the duly elected government of America effectively become the responsibility of the people of America, and that means you and me. And if we do not actively resist barbaric and inhuman practices committed by our government in our name, under our authority, and with our effective knowledge and consent, we are surely just as responsible for them as those who actually commit them.

            The bottom line is that we cannot turn a blind eye to barbarism and/or atrocities committed in our name and expect to get away with it, either in this life or the next. If we care about the high ideals of individual freedom, human rights, and constitutional democracy, we must be willing to stand up for those ideals, and speak out for those ideals, and fight anyone, at home or abroad, who would diminish or destroy those ideals in our day, in our time, and on our watch. It is a grave responsibility to be a citizen of any democracy, and there has never been a democracy so beautifully conceived and so faithfully executed by so many different generations of freedom loving men and women as the United States of America.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “It would be convenient (and comforting) if that were true, but it’s not. The citizens of democratic nations are ultimately responsible for acts committed under the authority of duly elected, duly authorized, and duly empowered officials. If the officials “creep over the line”, the nation creeps over the line.”

            Sure. And the fact that most of us agree about that is yet another reason why we have the highest comparative morality. I’m not saying that we should not strive for ideals. I’m saying that we should apply the same standards to others when judging systems of government.

            “By authorizing the behavior, by permitting the behavior and/or by acquiescing in the behavior, the citizens of a democracy effectively ratify, approve, and condone the behavior of the public officials acting on their behalf and in their name. It follows, therefore, all acts or behavior of any kind done in the name of America by the duly elected government of America effectively become the responsibility of the people of America, and that means you and me.”

            I’m not actually disagreeing with you. I’m saying that there is only a single standard for morality, and circumstances have to be judged before applying that standard or elements of that standard. The circumstances vary so widely that we can’t always make the bold and clear idealistic declarations while striving to judge how each of us meets those elements for the standard of judgment. And we’re all imperfect people. I don’t expect more from Americans because of some theory about genetics. I expect more because we have superior laws and generally superior culture. Individual failures do not represent failures of the systems more in America than they do in China. That’s the essence of what I’m saying.

            “And if we do not actively resist barbaric and inhuman practices committed by our government in our name, under our authority, and with our effective knowledge and consent, we are surely just as responsible for them as those who actually commit them. The bottom line is that we cannot turn a blind eye to barbarism and/or atrocities committed in our name and expect to get away with it in this life or the next.”

            The whole conversation was about judging those who deem China as morally equal or morally superior to America. That’s not justifying torture. It’s putting known events in to rational perspective. Which is not a compromise of our ideals at all. It’s simply a more comprehensive conversation about some of the things that happen in war, especially when new and shocking dangers arise.

            None of that means we should not strive for our ideals. Try to be more pragmatic when judging failures to meet those ideals. That’s not the same as abandoning them.

          • Texas Patriot

            OFM: “The whole conversation was about judging those who deem China as morally equal or morally superior to America. That’s not justifying torture. It’s putting known events in to rational perspective.”

            I’m all for looking at the trend lines. And the truth may well be that China is moving up and away from its grim history of barbarism and atrocity toward a higher recognition of human dignity, human freedom, and human rights, whereas America is quite possibly headed in the opposite direction, albeit from a much higher beginning point. It’s not too late to turn around the recent trends, but it is sickening to think that we are looking down on the Chinese when they are in fact getting better if we are in fact getting worse.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            China’s diplomatic rhetoric has certainly changed. Certain elites and useful people absolutely have more freedom compared to what they had a few decades ago. Are those merely pragmatic changes or changes in ideals reflecting a system that is growing towards compatibility with our own ideals?

            I’m both hopeful and skeptical.

            “It’s not too late to turn around the recent trends, but it is sickening to think that we are looking down on the Chinese when they are in fact getting better if we are in fact getting worse.”

            China did not have its financial center attacked by Jihadis with thousands dead while televised live throughout the globe. Try to factor that in to your evaluations.

          • Texas Patriot

            China is also in the bullseye of islamic jihad, and it will be interesting to see how they treat terrorists caught in the act of committing terrorist atrocities against Chinese civilians. Hopefully they will be a lot smarter about it than we have been.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            At the very least they should be expected to learn from our history with them.

          • Texas Patriot

            I think America has been, and remains, an inspirational ideal and beacon of hope even for our worst enemies. Which is why our responsibility for preserving America’s finest ideals is so profound and so grave. As Abraham Lincoln suggested, without the bright and shining light of American idealism and exceptionalism, the world would be a much more grim and desperate place. We must not let the torch of Liberty and Universal Human Rights go out.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.””

            What that means is that we should not be unjust. Torture is certainly unjust. When does waterboarding become unjust torture? That’s a difficult question to answer. And not only that but it’s not clear at all what Sun Tzu would have done. He might have considered it perfectly moral and just to torture people under certain circumstances. He’s simply saying you’ve got to have a rational moral code. Nobody tries harder than us to come up with a rational code of conduct.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Thus, the true enemies of America and all the values that we believe in and stand for are those who counsel us that we can win a war without following the Golden Rule. ”

            If we followed the Golden Rule your way, we wouldn’t be able to launch any war. If we are allowed to return their behavior against them as the other side of the rule implies, then we can torture them.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Beware of them, do not be like them, and take care not to follow them or become one of them, at all costs. They will destroy you as surely as they will destroy America if we allow them to do so.”

            If we’re smart we may not have to lower ourselves. But if we were always smart we would not have had to firebomb German and Japanese cities. Some times things get messy and there are no perfect moral options to get out of the mess.

    • truebearing

      Your response to the brutal torture by chinese officials is a vacuous, “China is evolving,” but you go medieval on America and Greenfield over waterboarding. Why the disparity? Are you trying to admit that you are a progressive who can’t think in a straight line for 5 inches, or are you just trying to prove you that you have no mental capacity for proportionality?

      Waterboarding causes no permanent damage, and was only used because of the exigency of preventing more catastrophic terrorist attacks. Surely someone of even your obtusity can recognize why that would be necessary.

    • UCSPanther

      “China is evolving”.

      The only thing that has “evolved”, is their ability to hide the barbarism.

      • truebearing

        Why doesn’t he allow America or Dan Greenfield to “evolve?” Apparently, if a nation or individual is “evolving,” all sins are forgiven. But isn’t everything evolving according to evolutionary theory? I guess that means we all have a built in excuse for our moral failings, regardless of how severe they may be.

    • SoCalMike

      Legal definitions aside for a second, if it’s something you’re willing to try on yourself to see if it’s torture or not, it probably isn’t.
      Morally equivocating enhanced interrogation and torture may not be evil but it helps real evil by diminishing the real thing.

  • pete

    so i suppose they’ve already categorized and inventoried his internal organs and blood type for future donation opportunities – with the data all entered into a VERY microsoft-like Exhell application.

  • tagalog

    Can anyone disclose what the eight treasures are, of “Eight Treasures Porridge?”

    Or is the name just part of that inscrutable Oriental thingie?

    • A Z

      8 ne’er do well reprobates contributed to its’ making?

  • truebearing

    Like Castro, China allowed capitalism (crony) to “save the revolution,” but when push comes to shove, the communists will maintain power and the capitalists will be blamed for the collapse. Then we’ll hear some tales of torture…real torture.

    As usual, the Left ignores things like real torture when their ideological cousins are inflicting it, but wail inconsolably when some cheese cloth and water are used to fool a mass murdering terrorist into divulging things that prevented more terror and death.

    The idiots who decry waterboarding obviously consider the lives of the saved would-be victims to be of less importance than the opportunity to demonize those who actually do something to keep us safe. I say we waterboard them and start getting some long overdue answers. Let’s start with a televised waterboarding of Lois Lerner. I’ll buy the water.

  • UCSPanther

    Modern China can fool the outsider with its glitzy facade, but getting a look behind the facade can reveal its true ugly nature: A mutated communist regime that still makes use of intimidation and torture to maintain its position. They are real good at keeping that aspect hidden, and if it weren’t for defectors who are willing to speak up, we would never know about it.

    It’s that very fact that makes China’s lecturing of us on human rights ring so hollow.