Friday, December 12, 2014

In War, Does Victory Go To the Squeamish?

In war, does victory go to the squeamish?

Did we win World War II by being squeamish about civilian casualties? Is the Obama administration squeamish about the collateral damage caused by drone strikes?

If not, what is there about torture that causes an outbreak of squeamishness?

I suspect that it’s the humiliation suffered the victims, the lack of respect for their humanity.

Many people, now led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein want to draw the line at torture, at all torture and at anything resembling an indignity.

Since we are fighting people who do not care for their lives, we ought to give more serious consideration to the value of humiliation and shaming.

Whatever you think about torture, treating terrorists with respect is clearly the wrong way to go.

Roger Simon surveys the state of the world, the state of a world fashioned by the foreign policy of a Democratic president, and notes the absurdity of Dianne Feinstein’s belief that she has advanced a cause by denouncing the practices that might have contributed to keeping us safe:

Looking around the world today,  Libya (under control somewhat while Khadafy was alive) is an unholy mess;  with no real end in site to negotiations, Iran is continuing to develop nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles while expanding its influence into Yemen and maintaining strength in Syria and Lebanon and cementing its alliances with North Korea and Venezuela (among others);  putative NATO member Turkey is becoming more Islamist by the day under the rule of Obama’s pal Erdogan;  ISIS continues to control large portions Syria and Iraq and may secretly be in cahoots with Turkey; Russia has moved into Ukraine and has everyone from Moldova to Finland nervous;  China controls more of the Pacific every day, our Japanese and South Korean friends worried if they can trust us anymore;  Europe is a weak sister with an increasing Islamic population they don’t police and that runs rampant in their own ever-growing neighborhoods, the influence of Sharia law expanding over that continent and hardly anyone doing anything about it; and America, under Obama, has turned into the “pitiful, helpless giant” that it was accused of being during Vietnam, but really wasn’t (until now)…. And with all that, my senior senator Dianne Feinstein is worried the CIA has become a little brutal???   What an unbelievable, self-righteous idiot!

Feinstein wants to be remembered as an intrepid seeker of the truth. So fervent was her love of the truth that she did not interview any of the CIA officers who perpetrated the actions she believed to be torture.

She preferred to elicit raw emotion by offering a narrative. It reminds us of Sabrina Rubin Erdely. Feinstein cherry-picked facts to foster her narrative. In her mind, she was standing up for American ideals by denouncing those government officials who had not lived up to them.

Tellingly Feinstein took to the floor of the United States Senate to defend her actions. There she declared that she wanted to ensure that what happened would “Never Again” happen. Thus, she was defending her tantrum with a phrase that has long been associated with the Holocaust.

By the logic of her argument, the CIA officers who tortured prisoners were like Nazi camp guards. By extension, the al Qaeda terrorists were the moral equivalent to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

That is what Feinstein was implying. That analogy, all by itself, makes her a moral degenerate of the first order.

Look at it this way. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed murdered nearly three thousand Americans on 9/11. Then he personally cut off Daniel Pearl’s head with a knife because Daniel Pearl was a Jew.

For my part, I do not care what they did to KSM.

Sen. Feinstein prefers to take a stand for KSM’s humanity.

Let’s be clear: KSM has forfeited his humanity. One’s humanity is not inalienable. It is not yours no matter what you do. KSM has placed himself in the class of beings that we normally call monsters. He does not deserve respect or consideration. Treating him as the monster that he is does not diminish your humanity.

Wringing your hands about what was done to KSM shows your moral cowardice, your will to buckle under to terrorism.

Of course, Feinstein and other members of Congress were fully briefed on what was going on. In many instances they encouraged the CIA to use all means necessary.

Now, Feinstein has followed the president’s lead by reacting to the Republican takeover of the Senate by fouling the water. Just as Obama’s immigration reform has made it nearly impossible for Republicans to cooperate with him on anything, Feinstein has thrown into question her own and her party’s loyalty to the officers of the CIA.

So much so that the Director of the CIA took to the podium yesterday to defend his agency and its people.

When was the last time that the Director of the CIA had a news conference to denounce a senator of his own party?

Feinstein is being hung out to dry. And rightly so.

Yesterday, wanting to maintain the august, moralistic tone of her contribution, Feinstein took to responding to CIA Director Brennan via tweets.

Among them, this:

CIA, FBI, NSA, DIA, DOD, NGA, State Dept, DHS and many other agencies help keep us safe. Torture does not.

Among the logical flaws in her argument, repeated by Sen. John McCain—isn’t it time that he retired??—is the notion that torture never works, that it never produces useful intelligence.

On its face the statement is ridiculous to the point of being stupid. NEVER is a big word. Surely, the truth lies in the fact that sometimes torture works and sometimes it doesn’t.

If it never worked, no one would ever do it. Or, if they did it, the reason would be their own unanalyzed sadistic tendencies.

Note well, if torture never works, the people who were using it were sadist criminals whose only purpose was to gratify their own perverted impulses.

Does Sen. Feinstein believe that?

For some reasons the intelligentsia, that is, people who do not have the responsibility for guaranteeing our safety have concluded that torture is wrong. Its wrongness has become a moral absolute. No one believes in God anymore, but everyone believes that torture is always wrong.

Torture may be wrong, but losing to terrorists is wronger.

Back in the day when liberal thinkers put reason ahead of their resentments, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz offered a compromise.

Admitting that there were some circumstances when we might reasonably want to torture an individual—on the chance that it might provide the information that could save your children or your nation—Dershowitz proposed a system of special torture warrants that would be granted by a court or an appointed agency.

If torture might work on some people some of the time, and if we would use it only under the most extreme circumstances we do need a way to allow it, while also protecting those carrying it out from the tantrums of politicians.

The point is clear. Despite the mindless certainties of Sen. Feinstein and Sen. McCain, if your nation was being held hostage to an attack that would  kill massive numbers of its citizens and if you had even the faintest hope that perhaps torture would save the people, you would opt for torture.

People who traffic in moral absolutes are unfit to govern.

Charles Krauthammer explained this morning:

So what was the Bush administration to do? Amid the smoking ruins of Ground Zero, conduct a controlled experiment in gentle interrogation and wait to see if we’d be hit again? A nation attacked is not a laboratory for exquisite moral experiments. It’s a trust to be protected, by whatever means meet and fit the threat.

Accordingly, under the direction of the Bush administration and with the acquiescence of congressional leadership, the CIA conducted an uncontrolled experiment. It did everything it could, sometimes clumsily, sometimes cruelly, indeed, sometimes wrongly.

But successfully. They kept us safe.

You know and I know and we all know that if the Bush administration had not kept us safe Sen. Feinstein would have rushed to the microphones to denounce it for being soft on terrorism.


Dennis said...

Strangely this seems to tie into Hillary's statement about empathy of which no terrorist is worried about.

Spent years as a democrat. One of the reason that I became an Independent was that I began to notice a pattern. It appears that democrats are quite happy to start wars, be part of the group who endorses wars when it seems popular, begin to undermine a non democrat president when it appears they might be able to win or find a solution that maintains the status of the US, support the troops when popular and then undermine the troops if they might possibly win, and when conditions seem to be safe then they find a sense of morality that did not exist before. This situation is the perfect example of democrat duplicity and hypocrisy. Absolutely everything is seen through the prism of political expediency and the country and its citizens be damned.
The further left the democrat party lurches the further they attempt to degrade every thing about being an American. The democrat party is not conversant with the word democrat.
Feinstein is only being representative of a democrat party would sell its own mother down therein if there was a political advantage to be had. One sees it every day in the fact that they/Obama will trow almost every one "under the bus."

Dennis said...

I am beginning to dislike spell checker.

n.n said...

Ironically, Feinstein opposes enhanced interrogation, but promotes enhanced population control. In order to comply with Feinstein's conception of morality (i.e. religion), the correct resolution to this impasse is to implement a pro-choice policy.

We will continue to use lethal injection, decapitation, and dismemberment to murder wholly innocent human lives when they are uniquely vulnerable by the millions annually. And now we will use enhanced interrogation when there is probable cause in order to carry out self-defense.

So, have we reached a consensus?

Premeditated abortion of wholly innocent human lives. Enhanced interrogation when there is probable cause.

It may just be me, but the juxtaposition is breathtaking. The cognitive dissonance must be deafening.

n.n said...
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n.n said...


That's another divine irony. Most wars of the 20th century were started during Democrat administrations. Obama's administration has not only expanded overseas "conflicts", but engaged in assassination of heads of state (e.g. Gaddafi, who was tortured-tortured), undeclared regime changes (e.g. Libya, almost Egypt, almost Syria), and semi-covert support of violent coups (e.g. Ukraine).

Then there are the domestic conflicts, notably the illegal alien invasion, that Obama not only encouraged, but is facilitating. The second and third-world leaders are simply ecstatic to be relieved of their burden. The American minority leaders are simply ecstatic to increase their membership.

Their policy, which is not uniquely or wholly Democrat, seems to be DRAT = Displace, Replace, Abort, and Tax.

- - -
Actually, a pro-choice policy would not require probable cause. A pro-choice policy would not only employ enhanced interrogation, but also torture-torture for trivial causes, even a whim.

Ares Olympus said...

My personal morality says that the sin isn't in what you do, but what you do to cover up what you did. Its easy to say "we had to do what we had to do" because we didn't know what was happening, but its also easy to use that as an excused for not looking back when you do know what happened, and not want to see your mistakes and oversteps.

So at least in America, lots of information is available if you want an informed opinion.

So I agree, rather than feeling squeamish, we should read our 6300 page reports (or 500 page executive summaries) and see if we want some nuance in our positions of what advice we give the next time we don't know what we're doing and have to do it.

I found this documentary online, from 2007, but just got posted on YouTube in October. Its only an hour and 44 minutes. Taxi to the Dark Side (documentary film)

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares, sin isn't what you DO, it's the coverup? Really? Have you watched "All the President's Men" too many times?

Sin is all about action. It's not about rationalizations and perpetuations. There's nothing to rationalize or perpetuate unless the transgression against God was committed in the first place. If you want to say it was the "enhanced interrogation techniques" AND the coverup, fine. Just don't upgrade a coverup to be worse than a crime.

Assuming you think the CIA torturers were wrong, would you have been okay with it if they'd come out and admitted it? Would that have stopped "sin"? Really? Sin either is or it isn't. You pick. But please don't fall for this Washington hand-washing that the crime is the coverup. That's nonsense.

And as for "its also easy to use that as an excused for not looking back when you do know what happened, and not want to see your mistakes and oversteps," you sound like a lawyer... an armchair quarterback. It's the lawyers who are making a mess of this. Our wisemen in robes, purifying our souls. Give me a break.

What are we going to do the next time we can gain actionable intelligence? Have an ethics circle about it? I don't know about you, but I remember 9/11 and I was sure those M-Fers were coming after us again. And they were. But they didn't expect us to take the gloves off. Thank God we did.

All the Muslims understand is power. It's all they respect.

And I don't know what you mean about an "informed opinion." There's lots of opinions around, both informed and uninformed. Take your pick. Most people consider the "informed opinion" to be one that matches their own.

When we have another attack (not if, when) the CIA officers will politely decline to help in "enhanced" form, because they see what happens here. Words mean things. Diane Feinstein doesn't give a #$%& about "enhanced interrogation techniques" as an issue of moral courage. She's pissed because she was spied on. And she should be. But that doesn't mean that retribution needs to come in the form of smearing and exposing good intelligence officers who did their job, and had clearance all the way up to the White House. Hang politicians, not intelligence officers following orders. Wasn't that the takeaway from Nurumberg? Albert Speer got better treatment than our CIA officials.

Ares Olympus said...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD, did you have time for the Documentary before your reply?

I also found a NYT review if you like a summary.

And it certainly would be good to say that sin is what we do, but the flaw there is that we can't see many consequences until after the fact. The question is whether we're willing to stand in front of our peers and confess our actions honestly, or whether we can't trust their humanity is true enough to judge ours.

Driving drunk seems harmless if you get away with it 72 times before you kill someone, and even on the 72nd time, perhaps it wasn't your fault, because you would have still hit him completely sober, but are you going to wait around and be judged while you know your blood alcohol will convict you?

So the strange thing in life is that we can often find we can make mistakes and cover them up, and no one will know, but we know, and we have to live with it.

So the day after the hit&run drunk wakes up and sees he really can get away with it, he has to decide what's important - protecting his conscience - to stand tall under a possibly unjust law that will convict him for something he couldn't change, or to keep quiet, and hope his conscience can carry his mistake quietly, and not bother him again.

That's where the cover up harms I think - because our humanity is dependent upon truth, and once you can no longer tell the truth, because of personal consequences, our humanity is diminished.

The subject of torture also reminds me of Nazi Germany and all the immoral experiements the scientists performed on their dehumanized subjects. Once you dehumanize others, you are free to document your behavior, and even believe it will serve humanity, like new medical knowledge, and then doctors who followed had to decide if it was ethical to use medical knowledge gained through torturing and killing people.

But if its origin was a SECRET, if doctors didn't know it was through Nazi doctors that the knowledge was gained, we could safely use that information without harm to conscience, as long as its true and good.

We can think of Prometheus stealing fire for man from the gods, and was tortured daily by being chained and having a soulless, conscience-free eagle pull out his innards. But he was righteous, so we can be grateful for his self-sacrifice.

n.n said...
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n.n said...

This is not about enhanced interrogation. It's not even about torture. This is about competing interests. Feinstein et al support a pro-choice policy. They are not concerned with morality, but about marginalizing and eviscerating competing interests.

This was clear when Marxists (i.e. far left-wing) joined forces with Mandela to massacre native South Africans and competing Xulu factions in order to gain control of the developed resources. This was clear when they bombed Serbia into submission in order to establish an Islamic state inside of Europe. This was clear when they assassinated Gaddafi and forced an undeclared regime change. They almost succeed in Syria. They did succeed in Ukraine. This is clear when the civil "rights" businesses exploit exceptional circumstances in order to attack and divide a population along class boundaries. This is clear when they demand separation of church and state, the proceed to establish their own "religion" with an atheist faith enforced by the state. This is clear when they not only support but promote premeditated abortion or "planning" of around 2 million Americans annually. These are the tactics and strategy that the left-wing and sympathetic groups employ when they do not possess the leverage of communists, Nazis, socialists, and other left-wing regimes.

There is a conversation we need to have, but it does not begin with exceptional circumstances. We need to address the degenerate religion (i.e. moral philosophy), libertinism, and the faith, atheism, established by the state. They have progressive consequences in domestic and foreign affairs.

Larry Sheldon said...

Too tired to contemplate a squeamish Patton. Eisenhower, or MacArthur.

A squeamish Roosevelt or Truman or any pols since, much easier.

Unknown said...
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Dennis said...

Your morality isn't worth a damn if you are DEAD!!!!!
Given the choice between saving thousands of lives and feeling good about myself I would opt for saving those lives. Only safe people have time for moralizations and second guessing the people who are in the arena. And I suspect that GOD is not going to be too hard on me for making that choice.
The sad part is a large number of those "jumping the shark" complained the CIA was not doing enough and to do what they needed to do in order to protect this country. Significantly, they were briefed on the techniques utilized. When ask whether they were lied to they don't answer in the affirmative, but use the dodge that they were mislead. Why is that?
What I find extremely interesting is that the same people who, in prior times were agains't assassinations on the grounds that they were immoral are now very supportive of Obama assassinating Americans, denying them the rights contained in the Constitution, and killing others with drones. How many people were killed with EITs compared to just those killed as collateral damage cause by the actions of Obama. Given that killing these people instead of capturing them denies us the human intelligence that would aid in defeating those who would kill us. And people want to know why we are losing the intelligence war!
Selective morality is the preview of scoundrels and people who have never had to make the hard decisions to defend anyone other than themselves. Being an American is not akin to committing suicide just to feel good. Only those who have the protection of those willing to protect the country have the luxury to talk about morality. Is it morality to allow the country to suffer a large number of deaths or is the rather tame "Water Boarding" with specific protections, which all special operation forces face in their training, being used on a very small number of people who have already killed a significant number of US citizens or should we just hope that being politically correct will some how get them to emphasize with us?
Again your morality is NOT worth a damn if you are DEAD!!!!!!

Dennis said...

Further more life is not an academic exercise in a fraternity or sorority house where nothing bad happens to the all too intelligent better than thou professors and students. One of the first things many MBA students learned was that numbers were good inferences, but not to forget the human beings that those numbers were being applied and the costs that they have to pay.
I suspect that members of ISIS have their morality and they put it in practice every time they kill an apostate and an enemy of their brand of Islam. Their feeling good is your death and the death of your morality that justifies abortion, infanticide, et al. Until you see and smell the carnage of war you have no idea of what the fighting is all about. At least with abortion and using drones one does not have to deal with the aftermath of their so called morality.