At the Belmont Club this past weekend, Wretchard, prompted by Steve Harrigan's water boarding experience at 02:08:00 PM, posted this:
Steve Harrigan gets waterboarded on Fox and you can watch at on Hot Air at the link? How does it feel? It feels like s**t, beyond a doubt. What does it prove? Apparently that you don't suffer any perceptible damage from it or that, if you had a choice, it would be far preferable to getting your fingers chopped off, your teeth knocked out or your arms broken by dangling you from the ceiling. But what does it prove morally? Ah, there's that word! Whose morality, then? Didn't you know this post was going to be difficult?I don't believe anyone answered the questions or even directly addressed them. Let me restate Wretchard's question about Harrigan's report on waterboarding:
But what does it prove morally? Ah, there's that word! Whose morality, then? Didn't you know this post was going to be difficult?stumbley started off the thread at 02:54:09 PM with:
"Torture" is the infliction of grievous bodily harm that has permanent effects. Waterboarding is not permanently harmful. If the prisoner is mentally injured by waterboarding, that's a regrettable side effect, but such an individual would probably be "mentally injured" simply from the stress of combat and/or capture.Then at 3:07:36 Teresita said...
Would I like to be waterboarded? Of course not...but given a choice between that and electric shock to my genitals or bone breaking, what do you think I'd choose?
We're the white hats, we're not supposed to hit below the belt or shoot people in the back or show cruelty to our EPWs. Maybe after this Tuesday we will get our America back, the "shining city on a hill" that shuns torture and is therefore actually morally better than brutal third-world regimes scattered around the globe.So, from the beginning, the debate of the thread was framed in the same way as the "torture debate" is always argued. One side maintains that rough, coersive treatment is not torture and the other side ignores that argument and invokes a morality argument against torture while never agreeing to definitions.
Addressing the morality issue, at 4:07:56 3Case offered a number 6. to Wretchard's list of five:
6. "We are in a death struggle with a sophisticated adversary intent on returning civilization to a 7th Century fundamentalist society. What is the morality of survival? What is the morality of the survival of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren? What is the morality of the survival of the evolution of women as free beings?Well, 3Case got close to the question of morality but he didn't answer Wretchard's question of "Whose morality?"
At 05:13:30 PM, summignumi said...
White hats have always gotten dirty during war only the stories stayed clean so we could claim a more moral high ground fighting wars is the only time that the means justifies the ends! Some of the very first non Jewish converts to Christianity were roman soldiers, I think the first Roman solider to convert was a Centurion, this was a man of serious command and decided who died and who might live yet Jesus never told him to go AWOL from the legion so there must have been a reason, everything Jesus did had meaning.He was getting closer to the question of "Whose morality?" At least he pointed to a source for morality.
Then, at 06:23:37 PM, sam said...
Human rights groups have questioned the CIA’s methods for questioning suspects, especially following the passage of a bill last month that authorised the use of harsh - but undefined - interrogation tactics.Human Rights groups? No answer there.
It was way down the thread at 08:21:40 AM after much to and fro that:
2164th offered this insight on a flaw in the debate:
We are having a debate on torture because of the torture that has been done to plain speaking. Words are so distorted they have no meaning and we think in words or images. Distort the words, and you distort the images.It seems to me, that this has been a flaw in every torture debate. No one will agree to a definition of torture and without a legal definition of what torture is, the debate is reduced to the moral argument with one side the claiming the "moral high ground" while the other side is more pragmatic about survival.
Torture is being drawn and quartered. That means having your belly sliced open, your intestines pulled out and your body severed by an expert who will keep you alive while it is being down.
Rough coercive interrogation is not torture and save the pablum about it not working. That is simply horsehit, it works in spades. Grow up or give it up.
This post by Ash 12:53:31 PM seems to characterize the "moralist" worldview:
I would subtract the recent moves to institutionalize torture, secret prisons, and indefinite detentions. by opening this door we have ended up with a multitude of abuses that has given a view of our nation being no different then the Soviets, Chinese or many of the Arab governments, to name only a few governments who ware willing to pursue unethical means to advance their selfish goals. We have forfeited the moral high ground which you so cherish. We have become no better then the rest and now that we are invading an occupying foreign lands we have little of merit to project.At 05:10:28 PM on Sunday, catherine said...
I trust our side- its mission, sensibilities and deeds. But we all know we’re not perfect. Some think it’s better to give our enemy undeserved advantages in order to be more sporting, fair, humane and moral, even though he accords us naught. These preeners and saints who insist on "no torture" and who define it as most forms of pain and humiliation would prolong hostilities and maybe sacrifice us all.
The rest of us believe it’s better to be merely good and alive, which actually may be more “perfect” than being better and dead at the hand of medievalist mass murderers and oppressors, but who knows? All we can know for sure is that our enemy is lucky our virtuous dissenters think the way they do, and that our dissenters are really fortunate the rest of us think the way we do, because they get to posture while others of us pay.
That's some kind of heaven our fastidiously conscientious have set up for themselves, seemingly somewhere in the ninth ring down below. But who can be sure even about that? Maybe our higher purpose is to self-annihilate on principle. On not succumbing to the human instinct of self-preservation.
As of this writing, the debate is still on-going and I suspect it will continue ad infinitum because, like other moral issues, the opposing sides cannot agree on the essential definitions, (e.g. when life begins, who can be married, what is morality, what constitutes torture.) Like many of the relevant moral issues being debated today, we seem to be at an impasse of conflicting worldviews.
Lately the secular progressives camp which claims the "moral high ground" based on a moral authority emanating from a shifting, enigmatic, humanist, post-modern worldview has not been able to gain the upper hand politically. With the elections tomorrow, we will know if that has changed.
I think it was written somewhere that people get the rulers they deserve.