Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ethical but Stupid?

Ur has some very legitimate challenges to my last post:

I have to disagree with you, though, about the appropriateness of using techniques particularly designed to offend the religious sensibilities of the interrogee, for reasons that I think Sullivan has mentioned before. We are bending over backwards here trying to show that the war on terror is not a war on Islam (despite a noticeable contingent of people in this country who think that's exactly what it should be). If this becomes a war against Islam instead of against a group of fundamentalist whack-jobs who like to kill infidels and don't fear death, we are guaranteed to lose. Using interrogation techniques that specifically target Islamic beliefs is quite likely to push borderline cases over the line between cursing out names and actually trying to kill us.

An absolutely fair point. While I made a distinction between what is ethical and what is effective, I should also have considered whether the techniques were wise. I hereby revise my criteria to justify an acceptable interrogation technique: 1) it must be at least minimally ethical, 2) there must be a reasonable expectation of getting useful information through its use, and 3) it must not undermine our strategic goals.

He continues:

Of course, rioting over the supposed flushing of a Koran is fucking insane. But that's what we are dealing with. In any war, one of the prime strategic goals is to destroy the enemy's ability to wage war. Al Quaeda doesn't exactly have factory complexes or airfields or tank farms to bomb - their resources are pissed-off fundamentalist Muslims who hate us enough to risk (or sacrifice) their lives to destroy us. That is what we have to deprive them of, and the only way to do that - short of genocide - is to avoid giving any evidence, however slight, to the argument that we are enemies of Islam itself and not Al Quaeda or Hamas (or any other terrorist group) in particular. Telling a prisoner to 'fuck Allah' isn't an evil thing to do (unlike actual torture, which you rightly point out is a problem in and of itself). It is, however, fucking stupid.

Here's where I demur, since I honestly question whether world-wide Muslim opinion of the United States is in anyway connected to reality. No matter how good some kids are, their parents still beat them at the slightest provocation, and--in such situations--there are always provocations. Honestly, do you think Newsweek's retraction about the flushing incident is going to make any difference in Pakistan, or were we condemned before this even happened?


Blogger Chip Morgan said...

Great Blog!

October 26, 2005 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Chip Morgan said...

I came across your blog by accident....then was intrigued! Chip

January 7, 2006 at 7:19 PM  

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