Mark Twain on War and Water-boarding

The United States started colonization of the Philippines in 1899 and began a long war against Philippine guerillas. Twain denounced this war – “When the United States snatched the Philippines, she stained the flag.” (American History, Apr. 2010, p. 36)

In his autobiography Twain characterized President Theodore Roosevelt who was an avid proponent of armed annexation of the Philippines in the following lines: “I think the President is clearly insane in several ways, and insanest upon war and its supreme glories. I think he longs for a big war wherein he can spectacularly perform as chief general and chief admiral… Mr. Roosevelt is the Tom Sawyer of the political world of the twentieth century; always showing off; always hunting for a chance to show off; in his frenzied imagination the great republic is a vast Barnum circus with him for a clown and the whole world for an audience.” (American History, ibid, p. 36 – 37)

“American troops used water-boarding when they interrogated Philippine guerillas. ‘To make them confess – what?’ Twain asked. ‘Truth? Or Lies? How can one know which it is they are telling? For under unendurable pain a man confesses anything that is required of him, true or false, and his evidence is worthless.’ Dead for a century, Mark Twain still speaks to us…” (American History, ibid, p. 37)

Teddy Roosevelt is a part of and belongs to the American history. Mark Twain is a part of and belongs to the world’s culture and the timeless treasure of the universal human intelligence. He personifies for us the courage to fight for the noble Truth against the petty ideological truths and lies, psychological infantilism and megalomania and moral immaturity.