On the CIA Report and America

“Monday Musings” for Monday December 15, 2014

Volume IV.  No. 50/206

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Reflections on CIA Report

by Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA*

The media is flooded with hype, exaggeration and politicized partisan opinions about the use of torture by CIA. Some reflections:

There is no question that America is a blessed nation, and America’s exceptionalism is globally recognized, if not accepted. If the gates are opened to all seven billion earth inhabitants, US and Germany would be the destinations of choice for most. Yet we constantly put down the decency and goodness of our beloved nation.

I grow intolerant of people who enjoy maligning America. Consider the case of Zimbabwe, a nation of 12 million oppressed and unhappy people, with vast natural resources including oil, coal, copper, zinc and platinum. Let’s consider and compare form recent history the government functions in US and the African nation of Zimbabwe.  In March 2008, an election was held in Zimbabwe. Morgan Tsvangirai was elected over incumbent Robert Mugabe, President since 1980 when the country became independent. Mugabe did not accept the election results. Violence ensued, and according to the BBC many thousands of Tsvangirai supporters have been killed, imprisoned and tortured. There was a runoff election June 27 which was named by many, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a “sham,” while Tsvangirai sought asylum in Danish Embassy, and of course, Mugabe won. Compare this to our electoral process in which Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, after 16 months of long and rigorous debates, came together in unity, for Hillary to declare her support of Obama. The occasion was a touching display of civility, cordiality and mutual respect.

Observing our democracy at work is enough to stir up the highest instinct of patriotism and devotion to America. As Americans, we enjoy the supremacy of the rule of law, and not the whims of a person, to guarantee our freedom. Our Founding Fathers, especially George Washington, set the tone for leadership in America. After serving his country for eight years of presidency, like the Roman political figure, Lucius Cincinnatus, Washington returned to his farm, and let others to lead and govern the nation.

As one citizen, I take tremendous joy and honor in being an American and am happy to pay my taxes to sustain the system.

Surely, America has flaws. But the goodness of our Republic gives us the opportunity to correct those flaws. We ended slavery with the sacrifices of fellow Americans who fought the bloody Civil War. We corrected Jim Crow laws by passing the Civil Rights legislation signed by the late President Lyndon B Johnson, a son of the South. We even purged the system from proven criminal activities and thinking of people like Richard Nixon, without missing a beat. Yes, America has flaws and from time to time engages in activities that stain the purity of our flag. But the stains can be cleansed and the pride of patriotism restored.

Those old enough recall one of the historic stains were the ill-conceived activities, in 1953, in Iran, of Richard Helms, the then CIA Director. CIA overthrew the democratically elected government formed by the late Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, returned the late Shah to power, established the much feared SAVAK and taught SAVAK agents how to torture Iranian dissidents in Tehran’s Evin Prison. We do not need to go to centuries past, not even the 1920’s to see right here under our noses, re-enactment of  Puccini’s Tosca, Baron Scarpia, Mario Cavaradocci, with the use of torture room, and sadistic agents who enjoy torturing. The 1953 action by Richard Helms was the seed that led to 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and the imprisonment of the American Embassy officials for 444 days. Yes, America has a way of shooting herself in the foot. But we recover…We live with Puccini’’s verismo operas every day.

The recovery is through honest, transparent, and inclusive examination of our flaws and applying the correct remedies. America’s sovereignty is not only through excellence in technology, economic prosperity; but it is through our character, our humanity, and our moral leadership.

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*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He serves as a Visiting Scholar and lecturer on Medicine, the Arts and Humanities at his alma mater, the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health.

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