Friday, July 16, 2010

How is Torture Worse Than Execution?

Victor David Hanson is interviewed at Right Wing News about war and morality, as viewed from the West.  One point he made that resonated with me:

There has to be a Geneva code or whatnot. But when you start to be legalistic about war, you're going to create so many contradictions and hypocrisies and paradoxes because you're really taking the elemental violence and trying to adjudicate it as if it was dominoes.

So, for example, this country worked itself up over the waterboarding of three suspects that were being detained in Guantanamo. We knew in each case that they were responsible in some part for the 9-11 mass murders. We know they were waterboarded, but suddenly that translated in the campaign season to, "The United States embraces wide scale torture." At the same time in the last 18 months, we've probably killed around 700 in targeted assassinations. Perhaps over 100 civilians and one or two American citizens were killed and we were judge, jury and executioner. So once you get into this legalistic mode, these paradoxes that I referred to start to appear. It's OK to judge a suspected terrorist, as guilty. It's OK to pull the trigger and kill him by predator of remote assassination, but it's not OK to waterboard a known confessed terrorist. Most people would rather be waterboarded than have themselves and their children, everybody in the general vicinity, blown up. Yet we adjudicate one as moral and one as amoral depending on a pretty shaky logic. We're going to continue to do that more and more as we think that something is as unpredictable and savage as war must follow the same protocols as the health care plan or getting 500 channels on TV. When you get a lot of young people and you give them authorization to kill, you're going to see pretty savage things as a result.
This has been driving me crazy - why is no one else concerned about these targeted assassinations?  Absolutely NONE of the peace crowd has even NOTICED the actions by this administration.  Just because the delivery vehicle was a drone, doesn't make it right.

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