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I wish I’d written that...
Posted by: Jon Henke on Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Belgravia Dispatch...
God forbid, should there be a major terror attack that kills tens of thousands, we will see a chorus of complaints that Saint McCain helped spur on the massacre because of his too coddling approach to detainees. This is bunk. As McCain has said, if there is a real ticking time bomb scenario, the gloves will come off, but the interrogator will be responsible for his actions. In the meantime, we go forward preserving decades-long best practices that military officers have supported through myriad crises. They support it not least because they realize that they have been able to garner effective intelligence via the methods authorized in the manual, and because they further realize to muddy the waters with carve-outs and exceptions will lead to abuses—abuses that taint the repute of our armed forces and make it likelier that their men in the field will be tortured in turn.
[...]
Look, when you talk to serious people, people who have run major embassies or who have multiple stars on their uniforms, they are outraged that we have had to have a three year long debate about whether Americans can legally be allowed to torture (or were attempting to define torture down so much that a 'humaness' standard, particularly in the context of a countervailing 'military necessity' test, became largely meaningless). As David Ignatius has written, torture related issues amount and evoke directly America's very "seed corn". We just don't do it. Ever. Why? Because it's against all the better instincts of our national character. We are a moral nation, so we don't stoop to the barbarism of our enemies. We are a pragmatic, utilitarian people, so we don't engage in tactics that will often lend to dubious information regardless. We are an intelligent people, and so we realize that the cost and benefits of allowing torture (whether by military personnel or CIA interrogators or other USG employees, putting the rendition issue aside for the moment) will do us tremendous harm in terms of our moral authority.
[...]
McCain is right. Torture can never be legally preordained as an acceptable tactic, even against the monsters we face. It must remain a crime to engage in it, without exceptions, and interrogators must be held accountable for their actions. They may, under the totality of the circumstances, be pardoned or otherwise excused when the full facts come to light. But ex post, not ex ante. Again, to enshrine a right to torture in the law, even under very limited circumstances, has terrible ramifications, as it violates core American values that have stood us in good stead since the very inception of the Republic.
He's absolutely right. The arguments will continue, but the moral argument Gregory Djerejian makes seems every bit as clear as the moral argument made against Saddam Hussein's defense arguments. When questioned, Saddam's lawyer argued that Saddam "had this huge war going on, and you have to act firmly", and—while different in degree—that's really not so different in principle from the argument currently being made by defenders of the Bush administration.

History, I hope, will judge them badly.
 
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I think you are wrong. The gloves will not come off in a ticking bomb situation because bureaucracies are bureaucracies.

Look, we catch a top AQ planner, the guy who planned 9/11, and we ship him off to a CIA prison in Romania, where we waterboard him, and he breaks.

If that ain’t a ticking time bomb I don’t know what is. Maybe you want some movie version of a bad guy who we somehow know physically planted the bomb, that somehow we know is ticking...in the real world those guys don’t exist or Allahuakbar themselves before you catch them. Your best source will be the high level planners.

Now of course course that program has to end. The 14 experts who were authorized to do things the professional way will be sent off to monitor human rights in Bhutan. We’re gonna dot every i and every t for McCain.

Which is fine for most regular units in the field...I don’t want them doing anything beyond what was already allowed prior to 9/11 really. But you also take the option of getting quick and good results from the hard core AQ types via the CIA this way. (Oh, I guess in your view, we can hope that the brave Bruce Willis character will break the law to get the vital intel from the bad guy...)

and why do we need this new law? Because a bunch of yahoos at Abu Ghraib abused prisoners for their own amusement. Without them, I bet this doesn’t even register on anyone’s radar.

This is the soccer equivalent of saying, "well, since we had some idiot on our team score an own goal, let’s make a new rule saying that no one ever kicks the ball again..."

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I’ll go along with a ban that prohibits Americans from grabbing people off the streets, making videos, and beheading them. How about it? Can I get you behind that?
 
Written By: Lee
URL: http://
My position on this issue is fairly close to yours and Greg’s, but it’s worth noting that there are significant issues with the McCain amendment.
 
Written By: Matt McIntosh
URL: http://conjecturesandrefutations.net
I would not want my fate as an interrogator in the hands of a liberal judge with the McCain act in hand.
Why bother to take prisoners if you cannot sweat them?
 
Written By: Walter E. Wallis
URL: http://
I still think that anything a parent would do to a child for (non-abusive) punishment, or anything a child would do to a parent, should not be considered torture. But then again, I’m a sleep-deprived person who’s been kicked in the stomach for 24 consecutive hours by a fetus, and forced to clean up vomit while sick with stomach flu and holding a crying 18-month-old, so maybe I’m just projecting.
 
Written By: Wacky Hermit
URL: http://organicbabyfarm.blogspot.com
Harum is right.

This shit needs to happen and happens all the time. Buried somewhere in the CIA, NSA or DoD there is an office that specialises in doing torture in a deniable way. It may be farmed out to friendly and helpful nations (who have their methods updated through regular networking and instruction from the buried office). I don’t know and hope never to know because this is work that needs to be kept secret.

It has happened all the time. It was recently publicised when some highschool drop outs filmed themselves torturing peole in Abu Gharib. These idiots used methods tailored to break the will of insurgents using tech that does leave marks and is highly effective against Arabs. So either they are total morons in almost all respects, but strangely well researched and intelligent in torturing or they are complete dropkicks who were coached. Luis Posada (Cuban exile) is currently under extradition procedure to Venezuela for blowing up an airliner and killing 74 innocent people, is livin free in the USA - he claims to have tortured people for the CIA.

The McCain Act is just a slimey politician arse covering procedure. Next time some dropkick splashes his work across the networks the politicians who directed the CIA, NSA and DoD to go get the terrorists and defend the country will stand up, wave this paper and say "it wasn’t our fault. we’re innocent" - pathetic. And this Act is dangerous because as of now you have the FBI hunting down American torturers, some Fed could make a good career move out of exposing torture.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
Many people have begun to think we (military/CIA)tortute. We don’t beat people, we just do things that, while not actual pain, are "fairly harsh" to the average person.

I once had the privledge recently in my time here in Iraq to talk with an interrogater for the Army.

The conversation I had focused on the big question at the time for me, "How do you make them crack?"

While Soldiers don’t torture in pain (Abu Ghraib cases were unsupervised delinquents) some methods are just tough on the body because certain people from some areas have a natural affinity to dislike things from one culture.

For instance, many middle eastern people don’t like U.S. rap music.

Imagine now lisening to Eminem for 48 hours straight.

While some people find that music good, many dislike offensive language hammered into their psyche for many hours.

While I hold Senator McCain in a very high regard you can’t make lemonade with out squeezing some lemons first.

"If there is a real ticking time bomb the gloves will come off, but the interrogator will be responsible for his actions."

I find this passage very disturbing.

I personally see holding an interrogater reponsible will undoubtably undermine his job in the long run.

If the methods they use today are not good to do what good way could interrogaters use then?

—lock them in solitare?
—sleep depravation?
—make them listen to really bad music?

Those are just a few methods they use but even those are too harsh for some people.

While McCain raises a good argument of torture being bad PR and all, maybe he should focus on providing a solution to the problem first then focus on changing current methods.

Now some Joe will be out trying to think of nice friendly ways to get info out of someone for fear of being prosecuted for torture.

Remember McCain was tortured during the Vietnam War as a POW; therefore, he’ll always be an advocate for kinder, gentle ways to do things. This may also make him narrow-minded because sometimes extreme cases might require extreme methods.

I believe There will always be nutty people out there who might need a swift kick in the ass to extract a little info which might save hundreds.

While I don’t believe the U.S. Army does pain torture (I haven’t heard of any major cases), I think what they are doing is effective.

Until someone proves we’re doing some stuff like what happened to the 174 Sunni found in Iraq, I’ll hold on to the ideal that Americans treat prisoners better than most nations do today.
 
Written By: Ricardo Branch
URL: http://
I, like most, am against torturing detainees, whether they are unlawful combatants or legal combatants.

But the idea that nothing degrading can be done to unlawful combatants is crazy in the head. (And I will bet you this: ultimately, we will allow the detainees themselves to define what "degrading" is.)

Think of it this way. Say that I am really pissed off with my cousin, and I call him to ask him to meet me in a bar so that we can discuss our problem. When we get there, I verbally ridicule him and tell him how unfortunate it is that he is a member of my family. I’ve degraded him. No doubt about that.

It may have been un-nice of me to do that. And unwise. And unforgiveable. But I doubt that something like that would be illegal.

The point I’m making is this: the law apparently allows us to treat our family members, in public no less, in ways that we are forbidden from treating illegal combatants, even when the information so obtained could save the lives of 3,000 of our countrymen.

If we are not there now, that’s where these measures are headed.


—-Tom Nally, New Orleans


 
Written By: Tom Nally
URL: http://
Well what can you do then?

If language, sleep, and solitary confinment are questionable these days how will Soldiers do their job over here?

This debate makes me glad I’m almost out of Iraq. I’ve been here a total now of 332 days now and find many negative things concerning our efforts here.

Then again if these debates were not allowed we’d all be living in communism or some other oppressive form of government.

I guess the only way to really understand freedom is to witness some having no freedom.

Freedom isn’t free and an occasional squeeze "might" be needed.

Maybe defining torture for people would help. Does it do permanent damage, and is it really painful?

If it’s the equivalent of loud music and feeding pork to terrorists I see nothing wrong with torture.
 
Written By: Ricardo Branch
URL: http://
This is bunk. As McCain has said, if there is a real ticking time bomb scenario, the gloves will come off, but the interrogator will be responsible for his actions.

Sure, that’s a great fucking message.

Obey the law, except sometimes. Exactly when that sometimes applies is for us to decide after the fact.

And you know what? We’ll still be accused of torture.

 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Maybe forcing them to watch Gigli (that awful Ben/J-Lo movie) for days on end will send them into a rage that they’ll torture themselves.

We’d keep our hands clean that way.

"But Sir, all I did was turn the TV on!"
 
Written By: Ricardo Branch
URL: http://
The US held the USSR to a stalemate until the latter self destructed. We did so without adopting torture as approved national policy and creating our own secret chain of Gulags. The Soviets had a military arsenal far in excess of that possessed by bin Laden’s madmen, and armed with swarms of nuclear weapons and advanced delivery systems. The Soviets did have torture as an approved national policy.

We are still around. The USSR is history.

US power in the world rests on several pillars:

* military power, and even more so, PERCEPTION of overwhelming military power
* economic power based on free markets operating under the rule of law,
* an extremely compelling ideology that is based on rights, democracy, freedom, free markets, bans on things like torture, etc.
* diplomacy, including use of alliances and international organizations as levers to make policy.

I consider myself to be a patriot, and a centrist. I believe passionately that for the US to hold influence and power in the world is a good thing, not only for the US, but for the world as a whole. I believe that our ideology is the most realistic way to run a nation and a trading system, given that people are imperfect.

This is why I am incredibly disturbed by the fact that our present administration has systematically weakened all four of these pillars through ineptitude, lack of self-restraint and in some cases a wilful disregard for truth and legality.

* Military power - Utterly inept planning for post-war occupation, e.g. inadequate force on the ground, has bogged the US down in a war in Iraq that erases the impression of overwhelming power that had been generated by a series of swift, efficient victories in the field.

* Economic power - I’m a straight fiscal conservative. I don’t like being in debt. We’re deeper in the hole than ever, and as shrinking deficits (and eventually surpluses) helped to fuel the boom of the 90s, record-breaking deficits are hurting the economy.

* Ideology - The US has always been broadly associated with the compelling ideology of our forefathers. This ideology led members of the free world, and also reformers living in oppressive societies, to look at us as the guys with the moral high ground. For at least the next generation, it will be ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE for us to undo the damage wrought by pro-torture policies and other indisputable, graphic violations of human rights. Old news: US had bad-guy friends and conspiracy theorists on the fringes asserted use of torture by CIA as well. New news: Bushies back torture. Has this crippled us? No. Has it badly damaged our credibility both in the West and in the "hearts and minds" of the people in other regions who looked to us to show "a better way?" ABSOLUTELY.

* Diplomacy - Diplomatically speaking, in the 50 years since WW2, the US skillfully used multilateral organizations and treaties to achieve numerous objectives, including security and economic objectives. In many cases, the US was able to use such organizations as (pardon me) a fig leaf that allow other countries to accept US actions because they were "UN actions" or "NATO actions." We did not always get what we wanted, but overall we were fairly successful. However, Bush & co. saw these institutions as a bunch of interfering busybodies and, by fighting with them rather than using them effectively (e.g. pre-Iraq-war ineptitude by Rummy at NATO) have systematically damaged our effectiveness in the diplomatic sphere. Now we’re left building "alliances of convenience" every time a problem arises.


The Bush administration has done more damage to these four pillars of US influence than any other administration since World War II (damage to the ideological pillar is increasingly severe—thank G-d at least the Senate is trying to fix some of the worst collapses).

With these pillars damaged, the erosion of influence will not be instantaneous, but rather will grow over time. I am staggered that the American people as a whole have yet to grasp this situation. I suppose that there is too much partisan BS in the air, and not enough pragmatic understanding of the way the world works. Too much time wasted watching "reality TV", maybe, and not enough time getting a grip on the real world. :-(

I know this post veers a tad off topic. This has been sitting on my chest for a while though. ;-) Sorry ’bout that.
 
Written By: Howard
URL: http://
and why do we need this new law? Because a bunch of yahoos at Abu Ghraib abused prisoners for their own amusement.
If you still think that the torture/abuse problem is limited to Abu Ghraib, you haven’t been paying attention at all.
Why bother to take prisoners if you cannot sweat them?
Well, that’s one way of looking at it. I presume, though, that you have no problem with US POWs being tortured; that you find the Vietnam-era torture of, for example, John McCain perfectly acceptable.
We don’t beat people, we just do things that, while not actual pain, are "fairly harsh" to the average person.
A bright line has to be drawn somewhere. I understand that people will disagree over precisely where that line is drawn. The answer, then, is to be transparent about how and where we draw the line. If there’s nothing wrong with exposing POWs to days and days of loud music...then there’s no reason not to let the Red Cross observe.
If the methods they use today are not good to do what good way could interrogaters use then?
Those we’ve already committed to abide by—the interrogation methods outlined in the Army Manual, which the McCain ammendment specifies.
The US held the USSR to a stalemate until the latter self destructed. We did so without adopting torture as approved national policy and creating our own secret chain of Gulags.
It’s very important to note that the US policy of containment was predicated not on military superiority, but on moral superiority.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I presume, though, that you have no problem with US POWs being tortured; that you find the Vietnam-era torture of, for example, John McCain perfectly acceptable.

I presume that you are out of your fucking mind. Did North VietNam sign the Geneva Conventions? Did we? Was McCain a POW or a captured terrorist?

It’s very important to note that the US policy of containment was predicated not on military superiority, but on moral superiority.

It’s very important to note that MAD worked because we did not believe that the USSR would destroy itself to destroy us. I also missed out on the suicide Russian bombers, but maybe that happened while I was sleeping.

I’m also confused why you are talking about prisoners of war versus captured terrorists who do not fall under POW statutes.

 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
There’s no reason not to let the Red Cross visit detainees, unless of course knowledge of certain individuals being in US custody might be detrimental to our national security.

****
A bright line has to be drawn somewhere. I understand that people will disagree over precisely where that line is drawn. The answer, then, is to be transparent about how and where we draw the line.


Except that a terrorist knowning where the line is could be detrimental to our national security...
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Well, that’s one way of looking at it. I presume, though, that you have no problem with US POWs being tortured; that you find the Vietnam-era torture of, for example, John McCain perfectly acceptable.
Point of Fact: the torturers were on the winning side. The tortured and broken POWs reading their prepared statements back at America, the knowing that they will be tortured there forever unless America made peace, maybe shortened the war.
It’s very important to note that the US policy of containment was predicated not on military superiority, but on moral superiority.


You did not have military superiority then, so you needed something else and you found it in economic superiority. Moral superiority? If your morals meant you lived as meek, humble, totally wholesome, unremittingly nice but poor we wouldn’t want to know ya. But arrogant, brash, loud, offensive people with lots of money are swell guys to know.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
While torture is a touchy topic, I stand where I stand.

I don’t personally like it but it might be necessary.

If you still think that the torture/abuse problem is limited to Abu Ghraib, you haven’t been paying attention at all.
—Jon Henke

Well I’m stuck with only CNN over here and they show a slanted coverage on most stories so enlighten me on another case then.

You’re probably referring to a bogus story presented by another major news agency with a biased/slanted point-of-view.

By the way,
Except that a terrorist knowning where the line is could be detrimental to our national security...

good point Keith, good point.
 
Written By: Ricardo Branch
URL: http://
If there is a clearly known ticking bomb and you know that a particular suspect has information about it, this is a really tough dilemma. We are a free society that despises torture as one of our core principles. It sounds so cut and dried, doesn’t it. But it is not.

* Why is Islamist terrorism by foreigners different from internal terrorism by American groups on left or right—say, anti-abortion bombers or radical milita groups or extremist cults like the Rajneeshis? Why is torture acceptable when faced with a ticking bomb in one case, but not in the other case?

* Why is internal terrorism different from serious violence by a Russian organized crime ring? An American one? What if there is a ticking bomb in an organized crime case?

* Suppose the ticking bomb is the known planned murder of 50 people (or the blowing up of a church or a mall somewhere), whether at home or abroad. Does this make it okay to use torture to get the information?

* Suppose only 5 people are likely to be killed, e.g. there is a specific list of targets, e.g. Salman Rushdie & 4 other "enemies of Islam". Does this make it okay to use torture to get the information?

* Suppose one of these people is the US president. Does this make it okay to use torture to get the information?

* Suppose that the person being tortured was at a rally at which a senator narrowly escaped assassination. Does this make it okay to use torture to get the information?

* Now suppose that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the arresting officers just don’t believe that you could possibly be innocent. Suppose that the person being tortured is you. Is it still okay to use torture to get the information?

* I suspect that faced with a possible nuclear terrorism attack on a major city, all laws about prisoner treatment would go out the window. But I also suspect that a case like this would never be prosecuted, regardless of the law.


Cut and dried? Or not?


Another point.

You end up using torture far less often if you have moral authority, if there are honest people in the enemy ranks who think you just might have a point, and who might just defect and give you the information you want "for free." Or they help you to infiltrate the organization. These are the best intelligence sources. But if you condone torture of prisoners and you are caught buying good news coverage, it savages your moral authority, and you have to fall back on other means to gain information.

If the terrorists are essentially gangsters like the PLO, then bribery will probably work. But that won’t often work with al Qaeda.

If the terrorists are typical sociopaths/psychopaths, you may be able to manipulate them based on their lack of understanding that what they are doing is actually wrong.

If the the terrorists are Islamist fanatics, I suspect that you’d do better to hire interrogators who know a lot more about Islam than the terrorists do and who can shred their nasty rationalizations, while at the same time playing with their minds, instead of trying to beat them into submission. In particular, the likelihood that a torture victim, when released, will support terrorism is probably 100%, whereas if you can destroy the brainwashing then the person may come out having learned something that could spread.

Ultimately the way to beat Islamic terrorism is an indirect approach: hamstring the organizations that promote hateful ideologies and present terrorism as a legitimate alternative.
 
Written By: Howard
URL: http://
Well I’m stuck with only CNN over here and they show a slanted coverage on most stories so enlighten me on another case then.
Well, aside from the renditions, there was a general policy allowing certain measures which the administration insisted were not torture so long as they didn’t cause permanent organ failure—at least not intentionally. We linked some of those descriptions here, and we wrote a longer post describing incidents here.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Did North VietNam sign the Geneva Conventions? Did we? Was McCain a POW or a captured terrorist?
I believe NoVietnam did sign the ’49 GC. McCain was an enemy POW. You seem to be making this artificial distinction between the treatment we should give different kinds of POWs. After specific due process, an unlawful combatant might legally be given less rights than a normal POWs, but not before then. And, arguably, the damage to our moral authority is the same in either instance.

In any case, very few of the detainees being abused, rendered, etc have been given a tribunal.
It’s very important to note that MAD worked because we did not believe that the USSR would destroy itself to destroy us.
The policy of Mutually Assured Destruction came into existence long after the formulation of our foreign policy of containment. At the time of the Long Telegram and NSC-68, the Soviet Union didn’t have nuclear weapons.
You did not have military superiority then, so you needed something else and you found it in economic superiority. Moral superiority? If your morals meant you lived as meek, humble, totally wholesome, unremittingly nice but poor we wouldn’t want to know ya. But arrogant, brash, loud, offensive people with lots of money are swell guys to know.
I agree that economic superiority is important. But—again—at the time that the policy of containment was formulated, our economic superiority was not taken as a matter of course. It was moral superiority on which we predicated the ultimate victory of the policy containment.


 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Also...
You did not have military superiority then
I’d note that we did have military superiority at the time. We had fewer soldiers, iirc, but we had other advantages. The Soviets didn’t have our long-range air capabilities, but most importantly—and tied to that—the Soviet Union didn’t have The Bomb.

That, alone, gave us an absolute military advantage over them. It’s just that we chose not to press that advantage. Had we made it clear that we’d be willing to face them down, it’s likely that we could have gotten a better immediate-post WWII negotiating position with the Soviets.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Yet another marker falls:
When questioned, Saddam’s lawyer argued that Saddam "had this huge war going on, and you have to act firmly", and—while different in degree—that’s really not so different in principle from the argument currently being made by defenders of the Bush administration.
Jon now tells is there is a moral equivilancy between Saddam and GWB. How many more arguments are we going to see from the DNC playbook, offered as legitimate ’Libertarian’ offerings?



 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
I note that you don’t argue that the principle is different.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
It was moral superiority on which we predicated the ultimate victory of the policy containment.
So if the roles were reversed and the Soviet workers paradise out produced the Capitalist fiefdom of America then you would have still won? I don’t think so.
I’d note that we did have military superiority at the time. We had fewer soldiers, iirc, but we had other advantages. The Soviets didn’t have our long-range air capabilities, but most importantly—and tied to that—the Soviet Union didn’t have The Bomb.
Lots fewer soldiers. Russia did not have an offensive airforce, but it’s fighters and tactical bombers were very effective and they had a lot of them (more than your airforce - excluding naval carrier wings). To undertake a nuclear strike against Moscow would involve advancing within range through the Red Amy (tactical nukes from Germany to Ukraine?) and investing sufficient airpower to suppress their airforce. You would be placing your most vital weapon on European soil with Nazi & Commie sympathisers all around.

Or you could advace through Siberia (ha ha).

Plus - attacking Stalin with weapons designed to maximise Russian casualties, but not threaten him personally wouldn’t work - he was a monster who happily sacrafice every Russian to protect his arse.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
So if the roles were reversed and the Soviet workers paradise out produced the Capitalist fiefdom of America then you would have still won? I don’t think so.
Probably not—at least not in the way we eventually did. But—and I think you’re missing this—I’m referring to the predicates laid out by the creators of the containment doctrine. That’s what they said. Positions of strength helped to support that fundamental, central point, of course, but it was the moral superiority that underpinned all of that.
Plus - attacking Stalin with weapons designed to maximise Russian casualties, but not threaten him personally wouldn’t work - he was a monster who happily sacrafice every Russian to protect his arse.
Yes, but he was also a cold, hard calculator. Unlike Hitler, Stalin didn’t take losing bets for personal glory. He’d toe the line until the last minute, but he didn’t intentionally fight losing battles.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Yes, but he was also a cold, hard calculator. Unlike Hitler, Stalin didn’t take losing bets for personal glory. He’d toe the line until the last minute, but he didn’t intentionally fight losing battles.
Yes. So he did not attack the West. But if you attacked him it would be like Germany attacking him, he would need to fight. Then all the massive army, airforce, distance comes into play to Russia’s advantage wrt a defensive war.
I’m referring to the predicates laid out by the creators of the containment doctrine. That’s what they said. Positions of strength helped to support that fundamental, central point, of course, but it was the moral superiority that underpinned all of that.
Whereas I think your moral superiority was a luxury afforded by your military parity and underwritten by your economic superiority. I think morals were used as a selling point of propoganda to advise the public they were in a noble struggle. I think that the lack gulags and repression in America was advantageous to your economic prosperity rather than predicated on your morals. I justify this because you fought immorally in the rest of the world. I see the Contras massacring indians, Mujhadeen in Afghanistan, assasinating Leftist Presidents in Sth America, backing Sth African apartheid, supplying the Shah, Saudi Arabia & Pakistan, Agent Orange as all indicators that a conflict of minimal moral superiority was taking place.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
Yes. So he did not attack the West. But if you attacked him it would be like Germany attacking him, he would need to fight. Then all the massive army, airforce, distance comes into play to Russia’s advantage wrt a defensive war.
To some degree, certainly, but a lot of what the Soviets gained after WWII was gained by bravado, rather than genuinely defensible advantage. We’d have been hard pressed to invade the Soviet Union, but we could have negotiated a much more favorable outcome initially.
Whereas I think your moral superiority was a luxury afforded by your military parity and underwritten by your economic superiority.
Yes, the economic superiority certainly did give us the ability to use our moral superiority. But the moral superiority made our "side" much more appealing, cohesive and sustainable. And wealthy, too.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Yes, the economic superiority certainly did give us the ability to use our moral superiority. But the moral superiority made our "side" much more appealing, cohesive and sustainable. And wealthy, too.
Moving on to the present conflict between the West and fudamentalist Islam. The only states practicing and exporting fundamentalism (Iran & Saudi) are economically secure due to oil export. A moral code that benefits our economy also benefits theirs, so we are not going to win like we did in the Cold War. They have economic parity with our side.

They have negligible military strength, but what they have they use. They do not fear or respect the military superiority of the West because they know that West will not attack them. The West is relying on a strategy of waitng them out (similar to the Cold War), because attacking them would be very detrimental to the oil market. Our strength is irrelevent and strategic military parity is achieved.

How many people are going to die in this conflict? It all comes down to tactics of the terrorists and those who catch the terrorists. How het up either side is going to be on the morals they are willing to set aside to achieve their goals. If our side is limited in it’s effectiveness by a moral code then we will lose more people. If our moral code is designed to increase our wealth we will be richer, but more of us will die.


Personally I think we could change the entire scenario by using the military strength, accept a blip in the price of oil, save a lot of people from dying and retain our strong moral code. However if the military strength is not to be used then it is necessary to adopt a less moral posture to stop the terrorists and minimise our casualties.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
I think that Saudi Arabia and Iran are going to require very different approaches. (unless technology that replaces oil comes into existence, in which case all bets are off) Saudi Arabia, I think, has a national interest in restraining radical Islamism; with Iran, I don’t see it.

I believe it will be key, however, to win on the premise of a better way of doing things—i.e., for the "Western way" to win, rather than simply the US winning. It’s more important to propogate our value system than to assert our military dominance.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Our strength is irrelevent and strategic military parity is achieved.

On second thoughts, they have better than parity and we are the weaker side. They hold all the strategic advantage because they choose the place and time of the engagement and we only react.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Neither regime in Saudi or Iran has any interest in forming an educated secular society, because they would not be able to retain power. They need to have a system of loyalty to the regime and religion is a better tool than most.
It’s more important to propogate our value system than to assert our military dominance.
We cannot assert our value system in their society without their cooperation. They do not need to cooperate for economic reasons or out of fear. All we have left is for them to aspire to it. To arrive at our value system the leaders of those countries will have to aspire to surrendering absolute power, fabulous wealth and a "divine relationship to Allah". This would require them to have the aspirations uncommon in most human beings.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Well, Saudi Arabia does have a national (regime, anyway) interest in quelling the spread of radical Islamism, because some of those groups are contesting them for control of Saudi society. Any pan-Arab Caliphate would require the removal of the House of Saud.

So, I think we could trade them security for concessions to Western values. King Abdullah already seems to be willing to do that.

Iran, on the other hand, is a bit of an enigma.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The Saudi response so far has been to export the more religous of their young men to foriegn conflicts and to foreign mosques. We do not influence security in the Kingdom, we have nothing to trade them in terms of internal security. The solution that will be worked out will be entirely what is best for the King, not what is best for us or the Arabs. The only way we can influence is to threaten to remove external protection or threaten them directly.

A pan Arab caliphate is a very long way away and not of immediate concern. To date Al Qaeda has attacked one prince of the Sauds compared with over 100 attacks on foriegners in Saudi. They are not trying to overthrow the Sauds.

Iran is an enigma only if you behave morally - restrain from threatening them or intervening directly. People power "orange revolutions", student protests, sowing unrest, confrontations over the Iraqi border can all be used and in proportion to them reducing terrorist sponsorship.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
This is an endlessly complicated topic, and unsuited for comment section debate. Let’s agree to disagree and perhaps revisit it down the road. It’s an important topic.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Okay.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/

 
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