This week’s inauguration naturally prompts conversations about the centrality of presidential leadership and power. What kind of powers will the president-elect have, and how will he use them?
As a psychiatrist and the child of Holocaust survivors, I struggle to fathom how a doctor — sworn to “do no harm” — could inflict such incredible pain and suffering on another human being. And yet we know today that in the post-9/11 period, doctors and other health professionals were instrumental in designing and implementing the U.S. torture program that destroyed thousands of lives and has undermined the moral standing the United States assumed in the postwar period.
The brutality visited on Aleppo in recent weeks has shown the world that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has no scruples about killing his own people and destroying one of the world’s once-great cities. But it’s a brutality that has been clear all along to those of us who’ve watched Assad and his allies engage in a seemingly limitless campaign to annihilate Syria’s health care infrastructure and personnel over the past five years.
By allowing Assad to seize Aleppo by any means, the world has permitted a scorched-earth campaign against anyone who threatens the authoritarian rule of the Syrian president or Russia’s stronghold in the Middle East, writes Elise Baker of Physicians for Human Rights.
Physicians have unique skills to contribute to asylum seekers; they can use their medical training to document the physical and psychological scars of torture and ill-treatment. Although emotionally challenging, the work offers the rewards that attract doctors to the practice of medicine in the first place.