Friday, December 16, 2005


An Argument that Should Have Traction with THIS President

One criticism of our President's pro-torture tilt, often leveled by ex-CIA types and the like, is that if we are torturing, our agents/military folk/et al. will have a greater risk of being tortured should they be caught.

Why doesn't our President, who claims his favorite philosopher's Jesus, even really respond to this argument? After all, it is a matter of others doing unto us what we do unto them?

Maybe Nietzsche was right about the difference between the positive and negative versions of the Golden Rule? For all we know, GW Bush could like a bit of BDSM -- and why should I care about such things -- but he would, having a slave mentality, assume since he would have certain things done unto him, they could be done to others, no prob.

But what he really needs to remember is that we should not do to others what we would not have done to ourselves. Presumably GW Bush would not go on record as saying "I want our troops to be tortured" (even if, for all we know, he may want such a thing) -- so then, according to Hillel, Confucius, et al, he should do what he can to ensure we do not torture others.


BTW -- for those who think torture is so effective, haven't they heard the saying "you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"? Actually, though, what is effective (and some people have indicated the Israeli army seems to do this) at getting information from radicals who might not otherwise talk, is to have people believe there is a threat of torture and then treat them rather nicely: they'll be so relieved they are not getting tortured, they'll blab quickly lest things change. And -- their blabbing won't be questioned or reflect too badly on them -- after all, everyone else will forgive them after all they must have been tortured into blabbing and just are too emotionally damaged to admit it. The problem with this strategy, as effective as it is in getting information, is that when you occupy a people and they believe you are torturing them, even if you are not, they will tend to become violent, etc. -- wouldn't you? They also will not trust you in negotiations, peace settlements, etc. So even though rumors of torture can be effective in gathering intelligence, investigating terrorist activities, etc. -- much more effective than actual torture which merely gives you the answer you want to hear (whether it is true or not -- did Al-Libi tell us what we wanted to hear because he was tortured? or even more frighteningly, did he pretend to tell us under duress so we would believe he was giving away some secret when, in fact, we were not destroying Al Qaeda's operations by going into Iraq but doing their bidding and giving them a new base of operations?) -- they backfire in the long run by radicalizing against you the population amongst which the rumors are spread.

Of course, the people in charge of this country now seem not to care about the long term in any way anyway. Is it 'cause they figure the world will end soon so we might as well make some money now while we still can?

It boggles the mind that we even have to have this discussion in America. They were speaking on NPR this morning about defining the exact characteristics of what makes an activity torture or degrading treatment, etc. I think a broader definition works just fine: If there's any doubt as to whether or not something is torture, then it is and we ought not to do it. Simple and effective.
I still wonder what the parents of these people in charge of things taught them.

My parents and grandparents, like most I imagine and like I will be guaranteed, are full of old bromides and reliable common sense wisdom:

"don't piss in the wind and tell me it's raining"

"you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"

"don't throw the baby out with the bathwater"


And yet the so-called conservatives who supposedly stand for family values somehow seem to go against all the old-bromide "conservative" (by definition) values my parents and grandparents taught me!

It boggles my mind too -- how can these people claim to be moral and have a "black and white" view of the world and hate trivial legalisms, and yet espouse immoral plans justified by trivial legalisms and a shady view of the world?
Are we talking about torturing the terrorists who engineered 9/11? I say go for it... and when they catch Osama... hang him in public at the site of the World Trade Center.. put it on pay per view.. and donate the proceeds to the survivors of those who perished there!
One of the questions as far as I am concerned is how do we know whom we are torturing?

Can we really trust the current administration to have the right people?

I have visions of "Marathon Man" here --

Admin sanctioned torturer asking about whether a target will be attacked by Al Qaeda to Someone thought to be a member of Al Qaeda but who really knows nothing: Is it safe?
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