Means Examined in Light of Ends; Found Wanting


If this report in The Washington Post is accurate, we should all be disturbed:

Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th
Infantry Division, said tougher methods are being used to gather the
intelligence. On Wednesday night, he said, his troops picked up the
wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note:
"If you want your family released, turn yourself in." Such tactics
are justified, he said, because, "It's an intelligence operation
with detainees, and these people have info." They would have been
released in due course, he added later.

The tactic worked. On Friday, Hogg said, the lieutenant general appeared at the front gate of the U.S. base and surrendered.

The incantation "moral equivalence" is a verbal antidepressant, something to help people calm their nerves and shut down their brains when confronted with tales of Americans being beastly. So in the interest of having a conversation that does not immediately devolve into a kabuki-style performance of our favorite clich?s, let's grant upfront that Saddam Hussein has done worse things than kidnapping a man's family. He might have kidnapped them, for example, and then chopped off their ears. Or, I dunno, fed them to fire ants. He's a nasty customer, that Saddam Hussein.

Here's my question: Do you really want to argue that the only moral standard Americans should meet while they're in Iraq is not to be as bad as Saddam?

[Via Jim Henley.]