Friday, September 28, 2007

Bedtime for Bono

I see Bono is in the region. Good man. But that does not make him right about all things.

He once said this:

"Today I read in the Economist an article reporting that over 38 percent of Americans support some type of torture in exceptional circumstances. My country? No. Your country? Tell me no. Today, when I receive this great honor, I ask you, I implore you as an Irishman who has seen some of these things close up, I ask you to remember, you do not have to become a monster to defeat a monster. Your America’s better than that."

Now, I am not familiar with the poll the Economist cites but I am quite surprised. I am surprised the number of Americans not willing to support torture in exceptional circumstances is not MUCH higher.

For it doesn't require that much imagination to imagine circumstances where the torture of an individual would be justified in order to save many more lives.

Or just one.

Think the original Dirty Harry.

Creep has little girl kidnapped and buried alive. Creep is captured but refuses to say where his victim is buried. Time is running out on her. What does Harry Callahan do? He steps on the creep's bullet-wounded leg and induces pain until he talks.

What would you do? What would you countenance if the girl were your daughter, a friend's daughter, or even a little girl you didn't know half way around the world?

This is akin to the "ticking bomb" scenario. To say that torture can never be used, is never justified, strikes me as simple-minded, feel good morality.

Bono cites the humiliations inflicted at Abu Graib as being hurtful to America's reputation. That is, of course, true. But these were not acts of American policy. These were the acts of a few ill disciplined and ill trained renegade reserve soldiers who are being fairly punished.

Bono says, "You don't have to become a monster to defeat a monster."
True. But sometimes you have to do monstrous things to defeat a monster. Think Dresden. Think Hiroshima.

If Bono, or anyone thinks that 62 percent of Americans will never contenance "torture" I think he and they are wrong. Give them the right scenario, and they will contenance it until the cows come home. And so will Bono's fellow Irishman.

UPDATE: In thinking about this further, it seems to me people who say they are "never" in favor of "torture" are simply thinking about the sort of torture used by dictators and their secret police for the purpose of terrorizing and controlling their populations. They inflict it on the innocent to enhance their own for power.

Many are sadists who inflict torture for their own sexual pleasure. These are the Uday Husseins of the world. They truly are monsters.

But the Jack Bauers of the world use torture in the most exceptional of circumstances to extract information from bad guys to save innocent lives.


Blogger David Diano said...

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September 28, 2007 at 10:15 AM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

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September 28, 2007 at 10:37 AM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Yes, David, torture has a number of problems but you avoid the central question.

Would you countenance it to save the life a young girl buried alive with the clock ticking?

We do not open up the jails and let everyone go because we KNOW that innocent people have been convicted of crimes.

Because an innocent person might get tortured do we say we will never torture say, a Kalid Sheik Mohammed, if we have solid information that a bomb has been planted or a plot is underway and we need information to stop it.

Of course, I do not condone torture against our own soldiers any more than I condone it against enemy POWs. However, against terrorists who have operational timely information about an imminent plot, I have no moral qualms about it.

Such circumstances truly will be exceptional and very rare.

If an American intelligence operative or soldier were caught by the enemy who the enemy had good reason to believe had knowledge of an imminent plot to attack or assassinate one of its leaders I would understand the enemy doing whatever it could to illicit the information.

That, however, is not the enemy we face in our war against global jihadism. The enemy we face kills and tortures to terrorize, not elicit information to protect innocents. And they will continue to do so until we defeat them.

Now I have answered your question about our soliders, answer mine about the little girl.

September 28, 2007 at 10:40 AM 
Blogger David Diano said...

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September 28, 2007 at 11:02 AM 
Anonymous Randal said...

To say that torture can never be used, is never justified, strikes me as simple-minded, feel good morality.
=Childish, touchy-feely Liberalism.

We cannot and should not fight wars with one hand tied behind our backs, beholden to rules of conduct that our enemies do not hold themselves to. War is no place for Liberal PC.

And let’s face it, much of the “torture” and “abuse” the Left weeps about is really just humiliation. They seem more concerned about how we treat our captives –which is pretty darn accommodating, by the way- than how our captured boys are treated/beheaded.
The Left has just seized on this non-issue in their ongoing efforts to attack anything and everything the U.S./Bush do in this war.

September 28, 2007 at 11:08 AM 
Anonymous Randal said...

And who else is sick and tired of smug elitist wealthy entertainers –particularly foreigners like Bono- scolding us about how much money we should be sending to Africa? That is his favorite charity cause, not ours. Keep that crap in Irishland where he belongs.
When he donates all his millions to the point where he’s living paycheck to paycheck and wondering how he’s going to afford to heat his home this winter, then he can lecture us about sending more aid over to that worthless place.

September 28, 2007 at 11:19 AM 
Blogger David Diano said...

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September 28, 2007 at 11:38 AM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

So, David's short answer is "no" he would not countenance torture in an effort to save a kidnapped young girl buried alive, because...

It might not work, it didn't in the Dirty Harry scenario.

It probably wouldn't work because terrorists are too brave and too smart to know anything or give up what they know under threat of torture.

David, you should keep up with news events.

Back in 2005 it was well reported that the so-called torturing (probable water-boarding) of one the world's premier terorists worked pretty well.

"Consider Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the 39-year-old former Al Qaeda operative who was the Sept. 11 mastermind and bearer of many Al Qaeda secrets. If anyone had a motive for remaining silent, it was the man known to terrorism investigators as “KSM.” But not long after his capture in Pakistan, in March 2003, KSM began to talk. He ultimately had so much to say that more than 100 footnoted references to the CIA’s interrogations of KSM are contained in the final report of the commission that investigated Sept. 11. Not that everything KSM said was believable. But much of his information checked out in separate questioning of other captured Al Qaeda figures."

As for my hypothetical I'm not sure I would personally torture even someone who was holding, say, my daughter captive with her life at stake.

I doubt I would have the expertise to do it without killing the person and losing whatever information he might provide.

But in such an extraordinary circumstance, I would be happy to turn that person over to such experts to extract the information that might rescue her.

If, however, it turned out she were already dead, I would not regret for one minute the effort I made to save her life.

As for your juvenile insults they remain very telling. You can do (and be) better.

September 28, 2007 at 12:27 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

And so can you, Randal

September 28, 2007 at 12:28 PM 
Blogger David Diano said...

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September 28, 2007 at 2:34 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Pretty weak, David, pretty weak.

Why not just admit that torture in rare and exceptional circumstances might be well be morally justified.

It doesn't commit you to supporting a policy of torturing people willy nilly.

The argument that "torture" or some semblence of it, simply doesn't work is demonstratively false as Kalid Shaikh Mohammed case shows.

September 28, 2007 at 5:24 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all:

The liberals are forcing us to play a game of football with our enemies where they can face mask and illegally block us, but we can't do it to them. Seems fair to me. I once did a tv show on this and I completely pissed off the lib law professor who represents the Al Qaeda terrorists in Gitmo. By the way, the silly little lib was upset that his client had a leaky heart valve, and might get an infection at Gitmo. My eyes are starting to well up - time to go to the Outback and sink my teeth into a nice juicy steak - rare of course!

September 28, 2007 at 7:27 PM 
Anonymous Randal said...

Lol, Anon!

I like how intellectually dishonest LibDems like David go to such lengths to explain the many reasons why he’s against “torture”, when really he’s just attempting to justify his preconceived notions based on little more than his hatred and blind opposition to everything Bush. Why, ol’ W has turned the Davids into blind contrarians!
“War? No! Torture? No! Gitmo? No! Surge? No! Save Social Security? No!” On and on…
If Bush were to propose a puppy and a popsicle for every child the Davids would find a way to justify their angrily opposing it.
This is why the thinking folks dismiss you angry whacky Lefties, Dave.

September 28, 2007 at 8:39 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny - a pospsicle and a puppy... You are right Randal, people like David would complain and accuse "W" of torturing little children to give up the location of their popsicles and puppies.

It will never matter to libs what "W" does or any other person that is "right" does. So long as you know nothing, believe in nothing and have no standards, you are free to criticize everything.

I challenge David to come up with one thing that the Republicans have done right in the last 6 1/2 years.

Sort of like their position on guns. They hate them, and want them banned, but they hide behind someone with a gun when the $#it hits the fan.

One last thing David, I have my first ice hockey game of the winter season this weekend and I am so whipped into a frenzy from your irrational thoughts, and that rare steak I just devoured, that I think I will flatten me one of the liberal weenies that think they can skate with real men.

September 28, 2007 at 9:42 PM 
Blogger David Diano said...

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September 28, 2007 at 10:09 PM 
Blogger Eric said...

Some people need to be reminded of the difference between the clean chain of cause and effect in fiction and the messy world of repercussions and blowback in reality.

Jack Bauer is fictional. He's not real.
Dirty Harry is fictional. He's not real.

They appeal to our lizard brains, because they reassure us that vengeance is easily had if we're just willing to be tough enough.

But even if Abu Gharib and Gitmo produced some useful intelligence, they've come at a terrible cost. They've sent the message that America is not a moral force to many people who were on the fence about us. They've been used to further radicalize disaffected populations of muslims in places all over the world.

There's always blowback.

Turn off your boob tube and get real.

September 28, 2007 at 10:36 PM 
Anonymous Randal said...

They've sent the message that America is not a moral force to many people who were on the fence about us. They've been used to further radicalize disaffected populations

And we can thank the American Left for this. Them turning it into treasonous propaganda just to oppose Bush is worse than the act itself.

September 28, 2007 at 11:49 PM 
Blogger David Diano said...

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September 29, 2007 at 7:12 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How pathetic. Our enemies never viewed any army from western civilization as moral, no matter what we do or don't do. We are all infidels no matter what because we aren't muslim. They want to kill us and the reward they think that they get is appealing enough to them to want to kill us. Radical islamists are evil people and we should meet this evil with brute force, period! No compassion and no second chances for these people. If we are to survive on this planet, they must be killed.

Remember last year when the Iranian President received a standing ovation when he talked about the end of the world (the return of the twelfth Imam), what if our President did the same thing, and talked about the end from the Chistian perspective (tribulation and rapture)?

Liberals are so anti-religion that they are also anti-history and they fail to see that there are forces out there who have been conditioned over the centuries to want to kill us.

September 29, 2007 at 8:44 AM 
Anonymous Randal said...

Liberals refuse to see many things, Anon.

Oh, David, it was however the Angry Left that insisted on showing the pics to the world in their ongoing effort to show everyone how evil America/Bush is and obstruct our waging of this war by injecting their PC horsecrap.
And then they turn around and say how it is Bush who has harmed America’s standing in the world! Again, these treasonous LibDems efforts are worse than the acts themselves.
Please tell your buddies to stop aiding our enemies, Dave.

September 29, 2007 at 11:32 AM 
Anonymous e said...

The word "Torture" sounds bad. I think that is why people don't like to say they are for it.

Some people don't realize that the rest of the world isn't as nice as the little bubble they live in and that the real world is actually a cruel, harsh place. That is why people whose houses are broken into feel so "violated". They walk around everyday with no idea that there are bad people in society and then all of a sudden one of them was inside their house. Then they start to look at the world differently.

I am 100% for using any mental, physical or chemically induced means of extracting information from terrorists, but I'm against torture!

September 29, 2007 at 11:39 AM 
Anonymous Randal said...

Yep, true to their dishonest word game ways, LibDems have added the dreaded “torture” to their list of often repeated emotion-inducing buzzwords. The vast majority of which in reality rises to little more than fraternity hazing humiliation.

Can the Angry Lefties really be sooo concerned about the treatment of our captured terrorist enemies from the battlefield while completely disregarding the guaranteed genocide that will come to innocent civilians if they get their way and we retreat from Iraq?
Liberal hypocrisy shines with the unmistakable glow of disingenuousness.

This entire overblown “torture” non-issue has been about the Left’s hatred for Bush and Cheney. Period. They’re lying to you again.

September 29, 2007 at 12:15 PM 
Anonymous BJ said...

An interesting article on torture ... CounterPunch

I don't really agree with this perspective, but it is thought-provoking.

October 1, 2007 at 12:28 PM 
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