The purpose of Man’s life is to become an abject zombie
who serves a purpose he does not know,
for reasons he is not to question
--For the New Intellectual, Ayn Rand
Hiding places are innumerable, escape is only one,
but possibilities of escape, again,
are as many as hiding places
Now over at the temple
Oh! they really pack em in
The in crowd say its cool
To dig this chanting thing
--Rock the Casbah, The Clash
The Battle of the Casbah is a memoir by General Paul Aussaresses, who served as lead military intelligence officer for the French Army unit fighting the FLN in the Algierian War from1955-7.
The book is described as a "disturbing and sensational memoir" by The Wall Street Journal. It is that, but they declined to draw the clear parallels from Aussaresses' interrogation procedures in the 1950's to those of the U.S. today.
The book is disturbing precisely because this is where George Bush & Co. wanted to take America in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT©). The narrative details the military aspects of Counter Insurgency, but quickly passes into the illegal activities growing out of that process, like kidnapping, assassination, torture and execution.
The saddest part of Casbah is that General Aussaresses is not only unrepentant, but actually quite boastful about participating in these events. As a French officer who also fought the Nazi's, it is ironic that he cannot see he is importing the German's savageries upon his own subjects, the Muslim Algerians.
Also interesting is that all of the pictured insurgents appear westernized. This parallels the current reality of the al-Qaeda operatives who actually pose a credible threat to America. They are westernized and can navigate our pathways.
The simple rilfleman and military arm of al-Qaeda training and graduating from the supposed military camps are not a significant threat to the U.S. The skill sets are not interchangeable.
General Aussaresses espouses a combination of intelligence work, torture and summary executions to suppress an insurgency. Though he admits torture is a particularly cruel form of psychological terror, he fails to connect the dots equating French tactics as being every bit as cruel and inhumane as those of the terrorists against whom he is working.
Writes Aussaresses, "The methods that I used were always the same: beatings, electric shocks, and, in particular, water torture, which was the most dangerous technique for the prisoner. It never lasted for more than one hour and the suspects would speak in the hope of saving their own lives. They would therefore either talk quickly or never (128)."
The cruelties expressed in this book are totally reprehensible. As we know, water boarding was also a U.S.-approved method of extracting cooperation form "suspects".
At least Aussaresses knew when to call it a day.