DAILY BEAST– It’s a simple question with a gut-wrenching answer: In a time of war, is it ever OK to torture an enemy?
For decades, the answer was an automatic no. The often-cruel conditions endured by prisoners of war during World War Two spurred the Geneva Conventions, which stipulated an agreed-upon set of standards for handling war victims. By the late 1960s, when any young man could have been drafted to go to Vietnam, the humane treatment of soldiers was at the forefront of many Americans’ concerns.
But now, during a time of two overseas wars, Americans’ opinions on torture seem to have fractured, and largely on generational lines. A new study by the American Red Cross obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast found that a surprising majority—almost 60 percent—of American teenagers thought things like water-boarding or sleep deprivation are sometimes acceptable. More than half also approved of killing captured enemies in cases where the enemy had killed Americans. When asked about the reverse, 41 percent thought it was permissible for American troops to be tortured overseas. In all cases, young people showed themselves to be significantly more in favor of torture than older adults.
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