Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Misplaced Concerns

These past few weeks have seen a lot of debate about how we will treat the prisoners we take in the war on terror. On one side we have those concerned that we’re torturing prisoners, with the concern stemming from moral issues or worry that it will endanger prisoners our enemy takes, or both. On the other side we have those concerned that we are endangering ourselves by not aggressively interrogating prisoners who may have valuable information.

This whole debate seems fundamentally crazy to me. I’m having trouble believing that the first side is even serious in their position…

The argument that Americans captured by the enemy would be endangered is easily dispatched: those Americans are quite likely to have their throats slashed or their heads cut off right now. Exactly how would they be more endangered? The concern expressed is that if we violate the Geneva conventions, then the bad guys will, too. But…the bad guys are already completely ignoring the Geneva conventions — how could they ignore them any more completely? And then there’s the pesky little detail that the lamestream media seems to totally ignore: the Geneva conventions explicitly do not apply to a non-uniformed enemy, or to an enemy that themselves ignores the conventions. What a dumb argument, McCain!

The moral issues are less amenable to logical dismemberment, as in the end they rest on the beliefs that individuals have. For me, this is very straightforward: my belief is that if an enemy vows to kill my country’s citizens, and uses any method at his disposal to do so, then we are morally obligated (not merely permitted) to fight back with any means at our disposal. So … if an enemy attacks us by flying airplanes into buildings, torturing and beheading our soldiers and citizens, using their clergy to whip up mindless and unfounded hatred amongst their faithful, then … I believe that we are morally obligated to fight back by any means we can. So I have absolutely no problem with using any interrogation method to extract useful information from prisoners we take from this enemy, and I don’t much care whether they survive the interrogation. I was furious at the recent reports that we refrained from killing over 100 Taliban and Al Qaeda because they happened to be at a cemetary — to me, that’s political correctness gone completely amok. Again, I think we are morally obligated to attack our enemy no matter where he happens to be — and that includes cemetaries, mosques, museums, and apartment buildings.

Can any of my readers make a cogent argument on the other side? Can you explain to me why we should show any mercy at all to our merciless enemy?

1 comment:

  1. In the old blog, I was bored so I decided to annoy you again said:
    Well I can provide you with a cogent argument for why the detractors of reason act as they do. The “other side” does not believe in the practicality or validity of their position, they only seek to disrupt any successful measure from being implemented for which they cannot claim sole authorship and credit for. That goes for the likes of John McCain as well. He consistently has to elevate himself to a conspicuous level so we all remember that he is different, lest we dare consider him just another Senate legislator and not worth of special consideration and deference. So many members of our Congress have their priorities screwed up that they willingly and deliberately impeded progress on matters of national security just to ensure that the “wrong” person or party won’t get credit for it. Ridiculous zero sum gamesmanship attitudes have come to be expected in matters like our dealing with the Russians; hard to believe that we have to put up with it within our own Congress.