When Opposing Torture Becomes "Politically Correct"

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Perennial failed California Republican candidate Bruce Herschensohn pens a vile column urging the U.S. to "pull out all the stops" in the War on Terrorism in order to achieve "total victory," lest we want to "march to re-education camps, ? become boat people" or "become a Western mirror of Cambodia's genocide." (What shaky faith in American democracy our Bruce has.) He doesn't mention torture by name, but that's the clear subtext here. Snippet:

It may seem to be a radical idea, but why not use every means possible ? without politically correct detours ? to win the war against terrorism?

Our victory in World War II was not achieved by trying to win the hearts and minds of Germans and Japanese. We did not dominate the newsreels with pictures of those things a few American troops did to captured enemies. We did not call for an end to domestic profiling. We did not demonstrate against our military involvement. There was not the outrageous political complaint that "I support the troops but oppose the war."

Instead of all that, we bombed our enemies to submission with all the power and weaponry we had available.

To answer Herschensohn's opening question in the good faith it doesn't deserve: Terrorism, unlike Japan and Germany, is not a country. Its soldiers can be and are recruited from the West, as well as crappy Islamic countries, and you can damn well be sure that if the U.S. follows Herschensohn's excitable instructions by embracing torture and the deliberate bombing of civilians not just in Iraq but in "Syria and Lebanon and Iran and Yemen and the West Bank and Gaza," then there will no end to the supply of willing suicide bombers obsessed with Uncle Sam. In the meantime, we will have become monsters.

Like that famous Stanford torture experiment, some of the pro-war commentariat's reaction to Abu Ghraib has been a shocking reminder that there are many who walk among us that truly believe that the ends justify the means, that opposing American torture is "politically correct" (if ever there were a time to bury that dead phrase, I vote now), and that there is no practical downside to expanding and exerting American power willy-nilly in the world. Ironically, the many who are urging us to "keep things in perspective" and "stay the course in Iraq," are, by their supporting arguments and disgusting rationalizations, making an increasingly convincing case to do precisely the opposite.

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  1. I don’t agree with you, Matt. People are still people, whether they’re in a country or free- floating killers. While each problem has its own special variations, in general, swift, certain and devastating punishment is a very effective deterrent (joined with other tactics, of course, such as getting at leaders and shutting off supplies). So far, in fact, America has been very nice and considerate in its war against terror, essentially fighting with one hand tied behind its back. If we don’t care about the means, there are all sorts of imaginative ways we can punish people who oppose us, and they’ll know it.

    There are two main reasons people oppose torture, or even humiliation, of prisoners–that it’s an improper means of getting what you want and that it’s an ineffective method of getting what you want. (There’s also–though this has never applied in the real world–that it’d make our enemies torture our POWs whereas normally they wouldn’t.) Now it’s easy to say we should stop if it doesn’t work. The real question is what to do if it is, in fact, effective.

    Your argument is still mostly based on that it wouldn’t work, which is an open question. All- out war against those who declare all-out war on us doesn’t seem obviously wrong to me, either morally or as a tactic. Perhaps you’d better try a little harder to make the moral argument. And remember, the argument has to be good enough to withstand an atom bomb.

  2. Ted Barlow: What does that have to do with us? Don’t we have to be better than that?

    That depends ? if someone breaks into your house in the middle of the night do you shoot first and ask questions later, or do you believe that shooting the intruder would be bringing yourself ?down to his level??

  3. This just in Hot off the wire:
    Hershenson to replace Rumsfeld !
    Rumsfeld`s birthday to become a NeoCon holiday.

  4. Isn’t ‘political politeness’ oxymoronic rather than redundant? Sure looks that way…

    And to the poster who asserts “The reaction to terrorism must be so swift, horrific, inevitable, and unthinkable that the urge to kill dies in the mind before it can take hand.”
    one must ask — is this even possible? Is there any evidence whatsoever to support the notion that there is some level of response sufficient to pre-empt terrorism?
    One rather doubts it…

    Shirely Knott

  5. On the inevitability/necessity of another 9/11, I wonder if it would suit commenter gary’s purpose to mastermind and carry out such a plot himself, so that he could pin it on some unwitting Iraqis. This would kill two birds with one stone: (1) it would prove his point that we can no longer afford to play Mr. Nice Guy with the terrorists (those “people” formerly known as muslims); and (2) vindicate Our President’s Noble Cause, assuring his re-election.

    But, then I wonder, supposing greg could pull off this second 9/11, how would that prove theory A, that we’re going too easy on the Muhammadeans, as opposed to theory B, that Bush’s policies have precipitated bad will and failed to protect us from terrorism — even made things MORE dangerous for us?

    I’m not sure what the answer is. Maybe greg, through careful public opinion modeling, should finely tune the number of domestic civilian deaths necessary to prove both that the liberal elite media have, by their blame-America-first spin, undermined President Bush’s tough-on-terrorism war-on-terror, AND that President Bush has adequately safeguarded us against terror.

    Perhaps the best way really then, greg, is to get some of your patriot buddies together, put on ski masks, kidnap some queer then cut his head off while shouting about allah. Get it all on tape, then post it on a website for terrorists. That should get everybody good and mad at those brown people, while no one could say President Bush isn’t defending our shores.

  6. Wow. This all out War on Terror is gonna rule! I can’t wait until the war is over and there’s no more terrorism.

    Remember when the U.S. had a drug problem and then we declared and War on Drugs? And now you can’t buy drugs anymore!

    Damnit, if only the War on Drugs hadn’t been so effective. I could really use a fucking joint right now.

  7. Evan Williams: terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets

    I don?t think that Nazism was a ?Country? either but we sure as hell blasted the shit out of Nazism ? and the Nazi?s haven?t given us any trouble since!

    Chris M: [swift, horrific, inevitable, and unthinkable that the urge to kill dies in the mind before it can take hand ?]Yes, I can see how that would terrify suicide bombers.

    Terrifying them is a moot point if your goal is simply to annihilate them.

    Chris M: Reminds me of the “Shock and Awe” strategy, whereby the ones who were “shocked and awed” was the coalition at just how much punishment these people can take.

    Saddam and his army were willing to take about two weeks of ?punishment? from what I recall.

    But like all Secularists Saddam and his minions were thoroughly convinced that they would never have to suffer the consequences of their own actions. They foolishly believed they possessed “free will”.

  8. “Yes, I can see how that would terrify suicide bombers. Reminds me of the “Shock and Awe” stategy, whereby the ones who were “shocked and awed” was the coalition at just how much punishment these people can take.”

    Bull. The “shock and awe” strategy was simply to work on their head by talking about “shock and awe”. The military actually used a lot of restraint in the application of force to spare civilians as much as practically possible. Nor was the military “shocked and awed” by “how much punishement these people can take” because they couldn’t (and can’t) take punishment. They ambush where they can, hit and run and hide in Mosques.

    The military could have delivered plenty of REAL shock and awe if it had wanted to – napalm, fuel air bombs, daisycuter bombs, etc. Or maybe a couple of those 25 megaton H-bombs that the Stratgic Air Command used to fly in their B-52’s.
    Now that’s shock and awe.

  9. Shirley Knott: And to the poster who asserts “The reaction to terrorism must be so swift, horrific, inevitable, and unthinkable that the urge to kill dies in the mind before it can take hand.”
    one must ask — is this even possible? Is there any evidence whatsoever to support the notion that there is some level of response sufficient to pre-empt terrorism?
    One rather doubts it…

    Shirely Knott

    Yeah, but we could say the same thing about Rape.

    There is probably nothing we can do that we completely and totally prevent or deter ALL rapes. Is there any evidence whatsoever to support the notion that there is some level of response sufficient to pre-empt forcible rape? One rather doubts it…

    So following your own ?logic? I guess that means that we shouldn?t even try to prevent rape?

  10. gary wrote: “To stop terrorism, you have to invade the mind of the wannabe terrorist. The reaction to terrorism must be so swift, horrific, inevitable, and unthinkable that the urge to kill dies in the mind before it can take hand.”

    Gary, do you actually believe the stupid stuff that rolls out of your mouth? Terrorism directed against the regimes of the Stalinist Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Maoist China was ongoing despite the fact that civil liberties were non-existent in those countries and their governments could (and did) arrest and execute tens of thousands of people on the merest suspicion of anti-government activities. If mass executions in the streets of Warsaw were not sufficient to convince all of the Poles to stop resisting, why would mass executions in the streets of Baghdad be any more effective at convincing all Iraqis to stop resisting?

  11. Hey Serpent,

    Who’s broken into whose house?

  12. Re:
    “Yeah, but we could say the same thing about Rape.

    There is probably nothing we can do that we completely and totally prevent or deter ALL rapes. Is there any evidence whatsoever to support the notion that there is some level of response sufficient to pre-empt forcible rape? One rather doubts it…”

    So following your own ?logic? I guess that means that we shouldn?t even try to prevent rape?

    You should perhaps do some more study of logic, as you’ve rather badly mangled the point.
    It seems that yes, there *is* some level of response sufficient to pre-empt rape (“forcible rape” is redundant). Furthermore, and more to the point, in what way is rape comparable to terrorism, other than being morally corrupt? You draw an equivalence that does not exist.

    Finally, the original poster’s argument presents an all or nothing case — if any terrorism is not pre-empted, his policy simply ratchets up the counters, with no evidence that there is some level at which success can be reached. [nb, there is — but it requires sterilizing the planet before humanity escapes…]
    No such argument is made regarding rape, nor is such an argument implied in my objection to his insanity.

    With all due respect,
    Shirley Knott

  13. Ironically, the many who are urging us to “keep things in perspective” and “stay the course in Iraq,” are, by their supporting arguments and disgusting rationalizations, making an increasingly convincing case to do precisely the opposite.

    Who is this nameless and faceless “many” you’re talking about?

    You began by condemning the handful of nuts that are advocating torture. No problem there. But then you shifted focus to condemn the “many” who want to stay the course in Iraq. What’s up with that? The people advocating sticking to our guns with regard to Iraq aren’t the same people advocating torture. Indeed, almost without exception they are *condemning* those who advocate torture.

    What are the “disgusting rationalizations” allegedly being offered by people who want to “keep things in perspective”? Please be more specific.

  14. Evan and Chris – Click the “POST” button just once, then wait… it takes a minute or so (lately anyway.)

    Just Evan – I hadn’t immediately thought that which was so obvious to you, so please lay off Matt Welch, so that us dummies can catch up with the rest of you smarty-pants out there.

    Gary – First, I don’t understand your argument, other than maybe “force must be used to combat terror,” though I dare you to propose a more detailed plan for such an effort that would not prompt World War 3. Lastly, the comment about needing another 9/11 so that we may learn this crucial lesson (if that’s indeed what you mean,) is just MESSED UP. How can you say such things, man??

  15. The Serpent,

    I don?t think that Nazism was a ?Country? either but we sure as hell blasted the shit out of Nazism ? and the Nazi?s haven?t given us any trouble since!

    I guess that the April 19, 1995, bombing in Oklahoma City wasn’t caused by some (neo-)Nazis.

  16. “Perhaps they realize they’re fighting and losing a public relations battle too.”

    Unfortunately, many in the West are ready and willing to apologize for them while condemning (and offering 24/7 coverage) of relatively minor (in a long-term historical perspective) U.S. infractions.

    I’d feel a bit better about things if I thought we had very smart people handling this war. Instead, they appear to focus too much on brawn and too little on brain. The current war is a war of ideas. In WWII we were fighting for land, and not so much to counteract Nazi ideology.

    The people in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries know who the terrorists and extremists are and where they are. Perhaps we could pressure them to turn them out. Just as an extreme mind experiment, what if we threatened to nuke Islam’s holiest sites if they don’t do what we want. We could start small with Najaf and work up from there. If we threatened MAD on them, do you think the 99% of Muslims who are (we’re told) peace-loving would straighten out their own house?

    Now – of course – let’s find something a step or two down from MAD.

  17. >I guess that the April 19, 1995, bombing in
    >Oklahoma City wasn’t caused by some (neo-)Nazis.

    It wasn’t. McVeigh was an Iraqi agent under extremely deep cover.

  18. Evan Williams, I’ve been meaning to have a talk with you about your crappy wiskey.

  19. dumpendebat,
    Did you get that from Jayna Davis` new book?

  20. You can’t defeat an ideological mindset with guns alone, Matt. To stop terrorism, you have to invade the mind of the wannabe terrorist. The reaction to terrorism must be so swift, horrific, inevitable, and unthinkable that the urge to kill dies in the mind before it can take hand.

    Not sure how much that will do for a terrorist who flies planes into buildings or sets off strapped on bombs in public places. Although, a terrorist being displayed naked in front of their peers seems to be more horrifying for them then being KIA’d.

  21. Hydroman,

    I was just being silly. I didn’t realize that someone had actually written a book alleging links between McVeigh, Iraq, and the 11 September terrorist attacks. It doesn’t surprise me, though, that such a book would be published under WorldNetDaily’s imprint.

  22. Thanks, Serpent. Well and truly said. Terrorism is not a country it is a form of war used by countries not willing to put their money where their mouth is. It may be comforting to deny a war is being waged against us, but the casualties are real, and the naysayers are allies of the enemy. Damn the Democrats for not giving us an alternative to surrender.

  23. I don?t think that Nazism was a ?Country? either but we sure as hell blasted the shit out of Nazism ? and the Nazi?s haven?t given us any trouble since!

    dis?in?gen?u?ous
    adj.
    1. Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating: ?an ambitious, disingenuous, philistine, and hypocritical operator, who… exemplified… the most disagreeable traits of his time? (David Cannadine).

    2. Pretending to be unaware or unsophisticated; faux-na?f.

    Who here thinks we were at war with “Nazism” and not with “Germany and Japan?” Anyone? Bueller? You know, what with the declarations of war on those countries, this one should’ve been a slam-dunk, but some people are uneducatable.

  24. Just Asking: Who’s broken into whose house?

    Well, you may consider it a ?technicality?, but when someone deliberately flies an airplane into my house and kills my family, I still consider that a ?home invasion?.

    Of course the word-manglers (i.e. Liberals) just love technicalities (semantic word games).

  25. Does anyone else care about the evidence of a john doe #2 that is surfacing in the Nichols trial. And had he been light skinned, don’t you think the media would have insisted we find him by now?

  26. Hey Serpent

    I didn’t realize you were one of the morons who thought Saddam ordered 9/11.

  27. Shirley Knott: You should perhaps do some more study of logic, as you’ve rather badly mangled the point.

    Perhaps you can elaborate?

    Shirley Knott: It seems that yes, there *is* some level of response sufficient to pre-empt rape (“forcible rape” is redundant).

    I used the term ?forcible rape? in attempt to exclude such notions as ?Date Rape? from the discussion for the sake of clarity.

    So if rape *is* preventable as you claim, then why is it that rapes still occur?

    Shirley Knott: Furthermore, and more to the point, in what way is rape comparable to terrorism, other than being morally corrupt? You draw an equivalence that does not exist.

    Let me ?guess? ? you are an Atheist?

    Shirley Knott: Finally, the original poster’s argument presents an all or nothing case — if any terrorism is not pre-empted, his policy simply ratchets up the counters, with no evidence that there is some level at which success can be reached.

    ?Rape? and ?Terrorism? are both crimes. They are examples of anti-social behavior. ?Rape? and ?Terrorism? are both examples of one Individual benefiting at the expense of another (or others).

    If one can be prevented (or deterred), then BOTH can be prevented or deterred. The issue here in this forum seems to be that most people will acknowledge that ?rape? is Immoral/Evil (or ?Bad? if you prefer) and that it needs to be systematically punished (negatively reinforced). Whereas when it comes to ?Terrorism? while many begrudgingly will acknowledge it is bad, many seem none-to-eager to pony up the price for prevention.

    But hey, maybe punishing rapists isn?t worth the price either? I mean ? look, I am a male. Rape isn?t really a problem that I have to worry about.

  28. Shawn Smith: I guess that the April 19, 1995, bombing in Oklahoma City wasn’t caused by some (neo-)Nazis?

    Are you asserting that Timothy McVeigh was working for Adolph Hitler?

    Why did we attack Germany after Pearl Harbor, I didn?t think the Germans had anything to do with Pearl Harbor?

    Why were we ?wasting? our valuable Time, resources and manpower going after Hitler (Hussein) and the Nazi?s (Iraqi?s) when clearly it was only Hirohito (Osama bin Laden) and the Japanese (Al Qaeda) who were our enemies?

  29. Serpent,

    Twice you’ve implied that secularism is somehow an inherently negative thing (or at least that’s what I’ve inferred). I’m curious why.

    Also, rape and terrorism, while having things in common like being negative, are also so very different. Rape is committed under such a vast array of circumstances that don’t require planning or conspiracies that I don’t understand the benefit of comparing the two.

  30. Let me ?guess? ? you are an Atheist?

  31. Serpent,

    Germany declared war on us and was attacking our allies. I think that’s why we went to war with Germany.

  32. Why did we attack Germany after Pearl Harbor, I didn?t think the Germans had anything to do with Pearl Harbor?

    Probably because FDR had the same Wilsonian fixation that GWB has.

  33. Les: Twice you’ve implied that secularism is somehow an inherently negative thing (or at least that’s what I’ve inferred). I’m curious why.

    Well, based on my own past experiences I would say that Individuals who assert that they will ?cease to exist? when they ?die? tend to behave as if that is exactly what they believe.

    Claiming that ?you cease to exist when you die? is logically equivalent to claiming that ?the universe ceases to exist (relative to me) when I die?.

    The thing is that Secularism is based on the logically fallacious premise of Materialism, and Materialism is a mystical religion which preaches that their ?god? exists independent of ANY observation.

  34. While all you yahoos argue over what the true definition of “is” is, the terrorists are having a great time scaringe the bejesus out of the civilized world…….I’ve got a very good idea-approuch the biggest mullahs(politicians)and order them to stop any further atrocities…failure to do so will result in the immediate death of their families. It worked for the Russians years ago.
    How’s that for “non-p.c.”?
    p.s. Oh…..tell most of our worthless politicians the same thing.

  35. scaring

  36. Why did we attack Germany after Pearl Harbor, I didn?t think the Germans had anything to do with Pearl Harbor?

    Actually because Germany had an alliance with Japan, and because Germany declared war on us.

  37. Moron,
    We were economically at war against Germany well before Pearl Harbor, Lend Lease was helping our allies hold off the Nazis, who we realized had to be eventually stopped.

  38. The Serpent,

    The point I was trying to make (obviously I did a piss-poor job) was that (neo-)Nazis caused us problems long after WWII was over, and after we had “…blasted the shit out of Nazism.”

    And no, I was not asserting that Timothy McVeigh was working for Adolf Hitler.

  39. Serpent,

    Well, it’s off topic, but what the hey.

    I’m one of those folks who believes I’ll “cease to exist” when I die (I could be wrong, but until I see evidence to the contrary…) and I have quite a few friends who feel the same. But NONE of us think that it logically follows that the universe will cease to exist when we die. That would be, well, just stupid.

    I’ve never heard that materialists even believe in a god. Could you point me to some sources?

    But all this reminds me of what the President told Bob Woodward when he was asked how he thought history would judge his foreign policies (an important question, I think, for any head of state). Bush shrugged his shoulders, looked at Woodward as if he was stupid for asking, and said, “History. We don’t know. We’ll all be dead.”

    It seems to me that the President thinks the universe will die when he does.

  40. Bashing atheism in a post about the best way to defeat Islamic terrorism is pretty damned stupid; if Bin Laden were an atheist, the Twin Towers would likely still be standing.

  41. For once I agree with Jennifer. The whole afterlife concept is the real problem.

  42. I guess that the April 19, 1995, bombing in Oklahoma City wasn’t caused by some (neo-)Nazis.

    That’s correct, it wasn’t caused by neo-Nazis. Timothy McVeigh was not a Nazi, neo- or otherwise, and neither were his co-conspirators. He got the bomb idea from a book written by a neo-Nazi, that’s all.

  43. Hey Serpent

    “….a mystical religion which preaches that their ?god? exists independent of ANY observation.”

    Sounds like the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions to me.

    I have never read anything as stupid at H&R as the drivel you have been posting here today.

  44. Dan,

    Thanks for the info :-). I stand corrected.

  45. I’d like to cut and paste the comments The Onion has posted today about the torture in Abu Ghraib:

    “They wanted to provide Iraq with a smooth transition to democracy. We couldn’t just plunge them into a non-torture-based society with no time to adjust.”

    “Thank God Saddam’s in jail so he can’t commit atrocities like this anymore.”

    “I?m sure Bush was deeply saddened by the fact that American soldiers were stupid enough to document their acts of cruelty.”

    “It’s not like they made a 70-year-old woman get down on all fours, then climbed on her back and called her a donkey. What? Oh, no.”

    “If we hadn?t tortured those prisoners, we could never have achieved the post-war stability Iraq is currently enjoying.”

    “Some people want to make military prisons into country clubs? instead of the S&M clubs they are now.”

  46. “I don?t think that Nazism was a ?Country? either but we sure as hell blasted the shit out of Nazism ? and the Nazi?s haven?t given us any trouble since!”

    I think anyone who posts such stupid statements such as this really shouldn’t be dissing anyone else’s logic.

    As a Democrat aka “word mangler” (ooh, does that come on a t-shirt?), I’d like to speak for some of my party. It’s not that we don’t want to stop terrorism. It’s not that we don’t want to prevent terrorism. We’d just like to find a way to do so that doesn’t involve becoming terrorists ourselves. Because by my moral code (agnostic, Serpent, not atheist, so calm down. I think the universe continues without me after my death but in a far less glamorous manner), dropping atomic bombs on religous shrines as retaliation would make us terrorists. And tell me, how will you be sure we only kill terrorists?

  47. Heather-

    Well, if we kill all the people who want to kill us, but we kill a few extras as well, we’re still ahead of the game.

    Or at least that’s what the hawks on this forum insist.

  48. Thoreau should know, us hawks in power are taking great strides to not kill everyone in sight, which I DID support on Sept 12th 2001. Our restraint should be admired, especially since it has cost us so many lives, but there is no political gain in appreciating that, is there?

  49. “if ever there was a time to bury that dead phrase, I vote now”

    Hear, hear. I stopped using it when I noticed Holocaust revisionists resorting to calling their opponents “politically correct”. When modern-day Hitler apologists feel free to use that phrase, it’s long dead and starting to reek.

  50. Well here’s some appreciation, “Good job on minimizing the number of people killed that didn’t contribute money, time or support towards 9/11. Way to go on not slaughtering more children, women and others without power in Middle Eastern societies.” Now if only we knew how many Iraqi civilians we killed, we’d know exactly how much praise to heap upon the Hawks. But from what I understand, Iraqi civilian deaths don’t count. It was their mistake to live in that country in the first place.

  51. I’m actually really pleased with the advances in technology that have allowed the military to kill such a historically low number of civilians and their efforts to do improve on that.

    What frustrates me is that if you bring up an incident in which some members of the military make easily avoidable mistakes that end up killing men, women, and children in horrific ways (of which there are documented a good many), the response by some, including the representatives in the military, is that those deaths are “regretful.” But they’re not “regretful” enough to admit a mistake (even in cases when it’s obvious).

    I’m also frustrated by the notion that the life of a U.S. soldier is inherently more valuable than the life of a civilian. The soldier signed up to fight for good and to put his or her life at risk for that fight. The innocent men, women, and children that we’ve accidentally blown to pieces and burned alive (many more than U.S. combat deaths, it’s important to point out) never signed up for anything.

    I don’t think it’s radical or anti-military to suggest that the lives of innocent civilians are NOT inherently less valuable than the lives of U.S. soldiers.

    I know that there are many in the military who have worked and will continue to work at reducing civilian casualties and who are as concerned as I am at the civilian casualty rate and the somewhat cowardly defensiveness one encounters when daring to bring up one of the most important considerations in anything approaching ethical warfare.

  52. Well, if we kill all the people who want to kill us, but we kill a few extras as well, we’re still ahead of the game.

    Unfortunately, if it comes down to us or them, we need to make it painfully clear that we’re going to be the ones still standing, no matter what we have to do.

  53. Well, if we kill all the people who want to kill us, but we kill a few extras as well, we’re still ahead of the game. Or at least that’s what the hawks on this forum insist.

    Either you believe that it is always wrong to fight in any war, regardless of the reasons, or you agree that it is acceptable, if regrettable, to kill innocent people in a war. There is no middle ground, here. Either we were wrong to fight in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War II, et. al., or we weren’t — and since in every one of those wars, we knew innocent people would die… well, you do the math.

    So, yes. We’re in a war. If we kill everyone who wants to kill us, plus a few innocent people, that is more than acceptable to me. The point of concern is the ratio of “people who wanted to kill Americans” to “people who didn’t want to kill Americans” among the dead. Available information suggests, to me, that that ratio is still pretty good.

  54. Dan-
    The question here isn’t whether innocent people must die in a war, but whether innocent people must die in a war waged on false pretenses against a country which was not a threat to us.

    The funny thing is, the justifications used by the hawks to defend this country could, with just the tiniest bit of sarcasm added to the tone, be used by America-bashers to perform the technique known as “damning with faint praise.”

    “America? Yeah, what a great fucking country. They kill WAY less people than Saudi Arabia, man. Their views on religious tolerance are WAY more enlightened than those of the Taliban, totally. Their prisons are WAY more humane than Saddam Hussein’s were, dude. America is WAY less evil than Bin Laden, like, fer shurr. They’re, like, totally more humane than those guys who beheaded Nick Berg on video.”

    Tonight when my boyfriend comes home I’ll tell him that he’s MUCH more sexy than Woody Allen, and MUCH less irritating than Rosie O’Donnell, and see if he takes it as a compliment. I somehow doubt it. And I’m too much of a patriot not to get pissed off when people insult my country the same way. I expect better.

  55. Dan, what IS that ratio? Our military doesn’t even want to try to know the answer to that.

    I understand that there are always going to be situations in war where civilians will be killed.

    But any incident of civilian death due to negligence or use of excessive force should be considered as unacceptable in the streets of Baghdad as it would be in the streets of any American city. And there have been numerable such incidents throughout the war.

  56. Heather writes: “Now if only we knew how many Iraqi civilians we killed, we’d know exactly how much praise to heap upon the Hawks. But from what I understand, Iraqi civilian deaths don’t count. It was their mistake to live in that country in the first place.”

    This sort of thing makes me angry enough to vomit. You REALLY think when those of us who decided this nation had to defend itself against Muslim theocratic pathology are undisturbed by the knowledge of civilian deaths? I wrestled hard with what to do, and concluded we incurred harm by appearing weak. I do NOT like it, but have accepted reality.

    As for claiming to be an agnostic, please. You are an atheist. As am I. If you lack a belief in god(s) you are an atheist. You may *also* be an agnostic, which is the usual plea of those who wish to duck from the bigotry leveled against non-theistic people. (Which bigotry we have seen rear its head in this thread.) But if you lack a belief in a god you are an atheist.

    Jean Bart: please post the about.com.atheism definitions again, if you still have them bookmarked. I do not still have them, but clearly it is time for a reprise.

    –Mona–

  57. Mona,

    No one is saying that people who believed we had to attack Iraq for what people from Saudi Arabia did to us are “undisturbed” by civilian deaths. But it is an undeniable fact that we, as a nation, are much less disturbed by the deaths of Iraqi civilians than we are by the deaths of U.S. soldiers. I believe we should be at least equally disturbed whether a U.S. soldier dies or an Iraqi civilian dies.

    Also, Webster’s defines agnostic as: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and prob. unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god.

    It defines atheist as: one who believes that there is no deity.

    I describe myself as an agnostic because: I don’t know. I certainly don’t give a shit what kind of bigotry comes my way based on my feelings towards religion.

  58. Matt Welch, why do you hate America so much? You must hate America if you oppose policies based on the premise of zero blowback.

  59. I think a lot of the anger expressed is a normal reaction to the brutal murder of Nick Berg. However, I doubt that those responsible are doing any handwringing or soul-searching as we in the West are wont to do.

  60. However, I doubt that those responsible are doing any handwringing or soul-searching as we in the West are wont to do.

    That’s exactly right. They did it on purpose. They meant to do it, and they’re proud of it. They even made a promotional video and distributed it to the West, in the hope that we’d all see it.

    What does that have to do with us? Don’t we have to be better than that?

  61. You can’t defeat an ideological mindset with guns alone, Matt. To stop terrorism, you have to invade the mind of the wannabe terrorist. The reaction to terrorism must be so swift, horrific, inevitable, and unthinkable that the urge to kill dies in the mind before it can take hand.

    If we don’t see the futility of playing Mr Nice Guy by now, another 9/11 is not only inevitable, but necessary.

  62. From what I’ve heard on NPR, there has been a comparable soulsearching response from Iraqi citizens. Take the sentence “What the prison guards did is not representative of American values” and substitute “Nick Berg killers” for “prison guards” and “Islamic” for “American” and you’ve got a common view from Iraq (or so All Things Considered would have me believe).
    Perhaps they realize they’re fighting and losing a public relations battle too.

  63. Jeeeezus, does this guy THINK before he writes this shit? I mean, I didn’t even have to finish the sentence before I knew the obvious rebuttal. As soon as I read “Our victory in world war II…”, my mind automatically spat out “terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets”. If my mind can automatically spit that out without really even thinking about it, what sort of intellectual blindness does it take for someone to actually write this, much less put this into our world? Yikes.

  64. Jeeeezus, does this guy THINK before he writes this shit? I mean, I didn’t even have to finish the sentence before I knew the obvious rebuttal. As soon as I read “Our victory in world war II…”, my mind automatically spat out “terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets”. If my mind can automatically spit that out without really even thinking about it, what sort of intellectual blindness does it take for someone to actually write this, much less put this into our world? Yikes.

  65. Jeeeezus, does this guy THINK before he writes this shit? I mean, I didn’t even have to finish the sentence before I knew the obvious rebuttal. As soon as I read “Our victory in world war II…”, my mind automatically spat out “terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets”. If my mind can automatically spit that out without really even thinking about it, what sort of intellectual blindness does it take for someone to actually write this, much less put this into our world? Yikes.

  66. Jeeeezus, does this guy THINK before he writes this shit? I mean, I didn’t even have to finish the sentence before I knew the obvious rebuttal. As soon as I read “Our victory in world war II…”, my mind automatically spat out “terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets”. If my mind can automatically spit that out without really even thinking about it, what sort of intellectual blindness does it take for someone to actually write this, much less put this into our world? Yikes.

  67. Jeeeezus, does this guy THINK before he writes this shit? I mean, I didn’t even have to finish the sentence before I knew the obvious rebuttal. As soon as I read “Our victory in world war II…”, my mind automatically spat out “terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets”. If my mind can automatically spit that out without really even thinking about it, what sort of intellectual blindness does it take for someone to actually write this, much less put this into our world? Yikes.

  68. Jeeeezus, does this guy THINK before he writes this shit? I mean, I didn’t even have to finish the sentence before I knew the obvious rebuttal. As soon as I read “Our victory in world war II…”, my mind automatically spat out “terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets”. If my mind can automatically spit that out without really even thinking about it, what sort of intellectual blindness does it take for someone to actually write this, much less put this into our world? Yikes.

  69. Jeeeezus, does this guy THINK before he writes this shit? I mean, I didn’t even have to finish the sentence before I knew the obvious rebuttal. As soon as I read “Our victory in world war II…”, my mind automatically spat out “terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets”. If my mind can automatically spit that out without really even thinking about it, what sort of intellectual blindness does it take for someone to actually write this, much less put this into our world? Yikes.

  70. Jeeeezus, does this guy THINK before he writes this shit? I mean, I didn’t even have to finish the sentence before I knew the obvious rebuttal. As soon as I read “Our victory in world war II…”, my mind automatically spat out “terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets”. If my mind can automatically spit that out without really even thinking about it, what sort of intellectual blindness does it take for someone to actually write this, much less put this into our world? Yikes.

  71. Jeeeezus, does this guy THINK before he writes this shit? I mean, I didn’t even have to finish the sentence before I knew the obvious rebuttal. As soon as I read “Our victory in world war II…”, my mind automatically spat out “terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets”. If my mind can automatically spit that out without really even thinking about it, what sort of intellectual blindness does it take for someone to actually write this, much less put this into our world? Yikes.

  72. Jeeeezus, does this guy THINK before he writes this shit? I mean, I didn’t even have to finish the sentence before I knew the obvious rebuttal. As soon as I read “Our victory in world war II…”, my mind automatically spat out “terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets”. If my mind can automatically spit that out without really even thinking about it, what sort of intellectual blindness does it take for someone to actually write this, much less put this into our world? Yikes.

  73. The “domestic profiling” which Hershenson is referring to most likely means the treatment of Japanese-Americans, including the internment of large numbers of them. I wonder what exactly he wants to do to Arab-Americans, and how he thinks systematic curtailment of their liberties will help stop terrorists.

    Regarding the phrase “politically correct,” I think it’s still a valid one; but I apply it to all unthinking political orthodoxies. Conservatives have their own kind of “political correctness”; claiming that opposition to the war is “outrageous” is an example.

  74. “The reaction to terrorism must be so swift, horrific, inevitable, and unthinkable that the urge to kill dies in the mind before it can take hand.”

    Yes, I can see how that would terrify suicide bombers. Reminds me of the “Shock and Awe” stategy, whereby the ones who were “shocked and awed” was the coalition at just how much punishment these people can take.

    “Jeeeezus, does this guy THINK before he writes this shit? I mean, I didn’t even have to finish the sentence before I knew the obvious rebuttal. As soon as I read “Our victory in world war II…”, my mind automatically spat out “terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets”.

    2+2 = 5. If the obvious rebuttal to that assetion is “no it isn’t, 2+2=4” would that make the rebuttal incorrect for all its obviousness?. I fail to see how making an obvious point invalidates that point.

  75. “The reaction to terrorism must be so swift, horrific, inevitable, and unthinkable that the urge to kill dies in the mind before it can take hand.”

    Yes, I can see how that would terrify suicide bombers. Reminds me of the “Shock and Awe” stategy, whereby the ones who were “shocked and awed” was the coalition at just how much punishment these people can take.

    “Jeeeezus, does this guy THINK before he writes this shit? I mean, I didn’t even have to finish the sentence before I knew the obvious rebuttal. As soon as I read “Our victory in world war II…”, my mind automatically spat out “terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets”.

    2+2 = 5. If the obvious rebuttal to that assetion is “no it isn’t, 2+2=4” would that make the rebuttal incorrect for all its obviousness?. I fail to see how making an obvious point invalidates that point.

  76. “The reaction to terrorism must be so swift, horrific, inevitable, and unthinkable that the urge to kill dies in the mind before it can take hand.”

    Yes, I can see how that would terrify suicide bombers. Reminds me of the “Shock and Awe” stategy, whereby the ones who were “shocked and awed” was the coalition at just how much punishment these people can take.

    “Jeeeezus, does this guy THINK before he writes this shit? I mean, I didn’t even have to finish the sentence before I knew the obvious rebuttal. As soon as I read “Our victory in world war II…”, my mind automatically spat out “terrorism is not a country, it can’t be defeated by simply bombing strategic targets”.

    2+2 = 5. If the obvious rebuttal to that assetion is “no it isn’t, 2+2=4” would that make the rebuttal incorrect for all its obviousness?. I fail to see how making an obvious point invalidates that point.

  77. “What does that have to do with us? Don’t we have to be better than that?”

    I understand the point being made. However, the people responsible need to be brought to justice, otherwise our values will be used to hamsting us.

  78. Gary — another 9/11 is not only inevitable, but necessary.

    Wow.

  79. Just say no to double posts.

  80. “politically correct” is a phrase whose time has gone because few ever really believe in the “correctness” part of it; it’s really used instead of “political politeness” which is more accurate though rather redundant.

  81. Gary:
    Might I recommend, You set the House of Representatives on Fire? That is a good way of getting what you want. A gentleman from Brannau.

    Pay no heed to the FACT that Hussein had nothing to do with 11. September.

    I lost a friend in the WTC that day. Damn you for wanting that repeated.

  82. I hear lots of complaining and an inability to notice there is a difference between torture and humiliation.

    I’d like to see hear suggestions as to how the US SHOULD deal with terrorism.

    It is pretty easy to throw rocks, I’m good at it myself, so no offense intended.

    Jeezus, can’t you guys delete the 900 posts from that guy?

  83. Obviously, I have some kind of sick fanstasy about being Mona. Mona, forgive me. I obviously like you way too much and I promise to keep at least 100 yards away at all times until my therapy is complete.

  84. Your use of the words “lofty” and “sermon”

    So what’s the psycho-babble on the use of “real life” ?
    Eagerly awaiting …

  85. Les: I’ve already stated above that many in the military are working to decrease civilian casualties. I’m sorry that you think that the notion that two groups of people would have equally valuable lives is “lofty.”

    Yeah, but you don?t really believe this either — do you?

    Are you trying to tell me that if someone breaks into your house in the middle of the night that you value the burglar/murderer/rapist?s life as much as you value the lives of your wife and children?

    Les: And don’t get me started on Mother Teresa.

    Forget Mother Teresa, let?s talk about Einstein.

    Didn?t Einstein convince FDR that Germany was busy developing an Atomic bomb, which in turn caused the U.S. to invent the Atomic bomb itself, which in turn gave us nuclear Armageddon to worry about as a real and genuine threat?

    But Hitler didn?t really have any WMDs did he? Einstein pulled a fast one on us ? didn?t he? I guess that makes Einstein even more evil than Bush or Hitler combined?

  86. Serpent said: “Are you trying to tell me that if someone breaks into your house in the middle of the night that you value the burglar/murderer/rapist?s life as much as you value the lives of your wife and children?”

    Les and others were talking about Iraqi _civilian_ casualties. Like the guy walking by outside that you shoot in the head when your shot at the burglar is off target. Unless you think all Iraqis are the moral equivalent of this hypothetical burglar, simply by virtue of the fact that they’re Iraqi.

  87. “I believe we should be at least equally disturbed whether a U.S. soldier dies or an Iraqi civilian dies.”

    Very lofty. Certainly something we should aspire to. Unlike you though, i believe that the US Military already does worry about civilian casualties – i dont think we would have had any resistance in Fallujah if the marines were behaving like the Punisher. But in real life, unless they are Mother Teresa, most normal americans are going to be more upset when a US Soldier dies. You might want to factor that into your next sermon.

  88. J: Les and others were talking about Iraqi _civilian_ casualties.

    I would define a ?Civilian? as someone who has no intention of ever harming me.

    Are you claiming that all Iraqi?s meet this criteria?

  89. “I would define a ?Civilian? as someone who has no intention of ever harming me. Are you claiming that all Iraqi?s meet this criteria?”

    No, I’m certainly not claiming that. I’m pointing out that a lot of them do, and so equating them all with burglars/murderers/rapists isn’t really accurate or appropriate.

  90. SM,

    Your response is confusing. I agreed with you that in “real life” Americans care more about the lives of American soldiers than they do about Iraqi civilians. So far, you haven’t really said anything I haven’t already said.

    Serpent,

    J put it just fine. Most Iraqi civilians are like most American civilians. They just want to live their lives.

    “Didn?t Einstein convince FDR that Germany was busy developing an Atomic bomb, which in turn caused the U.S. to invent the Atomic bomb itself, which in turn gave us nuclear Armageddon to worry about as a real and genuine threat?”

    Einstein signed a letter stating that Hitler could be developing a nuclear weapon. And he was. But because he refused to consider the scientific conclusions of Jewish scientists, he couldn’t make any progress.

    Beyond that, I don’t understand your point.

    And what is the difference between an agnostic and a secularist?

  91. agnostics are not atheists.
    atheists, likewise, are not monster trucks.
    theists are not salmon.

    stop talkin’ crazy!

  92. Heather: As a Democrat aka “word mangler” (ooh, does that come on a t-shirt?) ?

    Well, it?s nice to see you have a sense of humor. Are you sure you are really a ?Democrat?? 😉

    I consider myself a Libertarian.

    Heather: I’d like to speak for some of my party. It’s not that we don’t want to stop terrorism. It’s not that we don’t want to prevent terrorism. We’d just like to find a way to do so that doesn’t involve becoming terrorists ourselves.

    Hey, I don?t like the idea of pointing a gun at another human being one bit. But you can rest assured that if you break into my house in the middle of the night I am going to have no trouble pointing a gun at you (and likely I won?t have any trouble pulling the trigger either).

    It?s a shitty situation, but (as the burglar) YOU would have been the one to put us there. I?d have no ?choice? in the matter.

    Heather: Because by my moral code (agnostic, Serpent, not atheist, so calm down.

    I have no problem with Agnostics. Agnosticism is an entirely consistent and logical position to hold in my assessment.

    Heather: I think the universe continues without me after my death but in a far less glamorous manner) ?

    Hehe ? you funny!

    But just out of curiosity what makes you believe that the universe will persist when you die? You won?t be able to observe it, will you?

    Maybe there is no ?universe?? Maybe the only thing the ?Big Bang? produced is the consciousness reading these words right now?

    Heather: dropping atomic bombs on religious shrines as retaliation would make us terrorists. And tell me, how will you be sure we only kill terrorists?

    Say what?

    Look, the terrorist are playing by One set of rules (i.e. The Laws of Physics). If you want to add some additional (imaginary) superfluous and unnecessary rules in order to make yourself a bigger target and easier to kill by your enemies, you go right ahead. I don?t mind one bit.

    But for me personally, and especially for my Family ? I?m only playing this game by the same set of rules my enemies are playing by. I?m not going to blindfold myself and tie one of my arms behind my back out of some misplaced sense of ?guilt? or ?shame?, or merely because I believe that existence is ?meaningless? and I am feeling generally suicidal.

  93. “Very lofty. Certainly something we should aspire to. Unlike you though, i believe that the US Military already does worry about civilian casualties”

    I’ve already stated above that many in the military are working to decrease civilian casualties. I’m sorry that you think that the notion that two groups of people would have equally valuable lives is “lofty.”

    “But in real life, unless they are Mother Teresa, most normal americans are going to be more upset when a US Soldier dies. You might want to factor that into your next sermon.”

    I’ve also stated that most Americans care more about the lives of U.S. soldiers than the lives of Iraqi civilians. That was the point of my statement. Your use of the words “lofty” and “sermon” is an excellent example of the defensiveness I described above as well. Thanks for the illustration.

    And don’t get me started on Mother Teresa.

  94. Les: And what is the difference between an agnostic and a secularist?

    ?Secularist? is a code word (euphemism) for ?Atheist/Liberal? (a ?Cynic?).

    Secularists deny (don?t believe in) the existence of ?God?.

    ?Agnostics? are open-minded about the issue.

  95. Again, Websters defines “secularism” as:

    indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.

    It defines “secular” as:

    1 a : of or relating to the worldly or temporal b : not overtly or specifically religious c : not ecclesiastical or clerical
    2 : not bound by monastic vows or rules; specifically : of, relating to, or forming clergy not belonging to a religious order or congregation

    So, ultimately, a secularist, is someone without religion. That’s all. Perhaps in religious, right wing circles, it’s taken on the extra definition of “liberal,” but that’s not too surprising.

  96. Les: So, ultimately, a secularist, is someone without religion. That’s all. Perhaps in religious, right wing circles, it’s taken on the extra definition of “liberal,” but that’s not too surprising.

    Religion = One?s fundamental beliefs regarding the nature and origin of existence.

    In my assessment it is impossible for anyone to not have a ?Religion?. Anyone who tells you that they don?t have a Religion is either deceiving themselves, or they are attempting to deceive you.

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