December 11, 2012

Torture in "Zero Dark Thirty": "It’s enough to make you wretch. It’s arguably the best and most important part of the movie."

Spencer Ackerman — whose wretched spelling may make you retch — struggles with the question that's plaguing movie fans today: Does the much-praised, Oscar-worthy Kathryn Bigelow film approve of torture?
One scene features a bloodied, disoriented and humiliated man strapped to a wall with his pants around his ankles. A second scene depicts the same man having liquid forcibly poured down his throat; later, he’s shoved into a box that could barely hold your stereo...
I'm no longer willing to view movies like this. (And I saw "3 Kings," which had a man getting liquid — crude oil — poured down his throat.) But this is what perhaps counts as serious film art these days. Crappy film entertainment is also full of torture (horror films).

Ackerman defends Bigelow: the film "presents a graphic depiction of what declassified CIA documents indicate the torture program really was" and "does not present torture as a silver bullet that led to bin Laden; it presents torture as the ignorant alternative to that silver bullet."

Bigelow's critics, linked in Ackerman's article, are worried that the film may convince people that torture is effective and worthwhile. This all sounds too rational. What does sitting quietly in a dark room with a crowd of comfortable strangers, watching huge, bright, clear moving pictures of actors pretending to be tortured do to our souls? I know the stock answer is: It's worse to live comfortably and complacently with a head free of any such picture. But the stock answer assumes that our souls are already dead.

64 comments:

prairie wind said...

Violence porn. My first exposure was in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and her Lover. The next was the stabbing scene in Private Ryan. Defenders like to claim artist/historical/moral accuracy...making this porn worse than other kinds of porn.

Nonapod said...

it presents torture as the ignorant alternative to that silver bullet

What is the "silver bullet" that will humanely extract critical information from enemy combatants?

Jay said...

The waterboarding of KSM led to Bin Laden's death.

Obama and his silly, ignorant supporters cheer Bin Laden's death.

AJ Lynch said...

Wasn't Ackerman was the Journolist tough guy who wanted to throw Repubs through plate glasse windows?

MayBee said...

Why so much more fuss over this film depicting torture than any number of James Bond or Quentin Tarantino movies?

I know those are fiction movies and this is supposedly based on facts, but we've seen lifetimes of depictions of torture working.

I suspect it is because the left needs to keep a cocoon around the "truism" that torture doesn't work.

Bob Ellison said...

Wired ain't what it used to be. It never was, really.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Wasn't Ackerman was the Journolist tough guy who wanted to throw Repubs through plate glasse windows?"

-- In the most artistic way possible!

MayBee said...

Ackerman: Helpless detainees are shown with rheumy eyes, desperate for the torture to stop, while their captors promise them nourishment and keep their promises by forcing Ensure down their throats through a funnel. Amar al-Baluchi, mocked for defecating on himself, is stripped and forced to wear a dog collar while Dan rides him, to alert the detainee to his helplessness.

I have a hard time when people who call themselves anti-torture seem to display a soft spot for really horrible people.
Helpless helpless helpless. The poor souls.

Mitchell the Bat said...

The business model used to be that guys would purchase movie tickets to frighten their dates so they'd be quicker to fuck.

Perhaps that's no longer the case and there's something more nefarious going on.

Either way, I wouldn't know.

bardseyeview said...

Whether we should view filmed depictions, let me argue that we certainly should view the real ones: Daniel Pearl's videotaped murder, the plummeting World Trade Tower officer workers, Fabrizio Quattrocchi's taped death (He was the Italian who refused to flinch, and whose last words were, "I will show you how an Italian dies.")

I asked my wife to consider naming one of our sons Quattrocchi (Fabrizio wouldn't get the point across, I thought). She considered it. Just too weird a name, she concluded.

sydney said...

So all of this torture, is it still going on? Because I thought it was Obama who got Osama, not Bush. How come I don't hear about this torture anymore? Did it stop?

traditionalguy said...

The Gulag mentality is calling out to us. Torture is safe and effective so far as the collective is concerned. So the cooperative media are now slow cooking us like the proverbial frog to appreciate it.

Civilization Marxist style requires extermination of any resistance to the new order along with the theft of all so called "private" property.

And we elected that.

MayBee said...

It's interesting, too, that all these lefties can't just leave it as ambiguous whether the "torture" led to some success or not.

Usually they are very able to see how complicated and unclear life is. But not with this movie. This movie has to teach the right lesson.

Paddy O said...

Highbrow folks don't have more refined tastes or less base desires, they just pretty it all up by calling it artistic and giving it awards.

Patrick said...

I admit to ambivalence about torture. It's not something I'd like to think is used often, but I can imagine cases in which it is very useful or necessary.

I doubt that it was justified to get Bin laden. Seems he was holed up, mostly off the grid, and out of the loop as far as planning operations for the bad guys. Assuming that was the knowledge at the time the torture occurred (it could well have not been the case), we are left with revenge as a motive or justification for torture. That is not something to be proud of.

Freeman Hunt said...

I won't watch movies like that anymore either. My husband has also mostly stopped watching them and a significant part of his job is watching movies.

Ken Green said...

I stopped watching graphically violent movies or television shows (for the most part) many years ago. I think I got fed up around the time of "The Running Man," where it seemed like a dozen men were killed crotch-first, including with a chain saw. And, I felt the torture scene in Daniel Craig's Casino Royale was simply too much, and won't watch Bond films without knowing someone who has seen it, and being told what's in it in the way of violence. Hollywood seems to revel in things that, as you point out Ann, seem intended to degrade the spirit.

Titus said...

So I guess you won't be watching The Human Centipede 2-that movie was amazing. Sewing peoples butts to each other mouths and then pouring laxatives in the first person mouth, everyone thereafter pinched in each others mouth.

I loved it.

Moose said...

when weren't our souls dead in the sense you mean? The grand old days when people died young and we openly abused black people? Or witnessed our relatives dying in our homes who were then laid out on the dining room table?
People have been witnessing horrors for some time. The only thing is we now view them in the movies/tv/internet, not in the city square or on our street.
People have more capacity for dealing with things than we think they do.

Paddy O said...

"The Most Gratuitous Use of the Word "Belgium" in a Serious Screenplay. It's very prestigious."
"The most gratuitous use of which word?" asked Arthur, with a determined attempt to keep his brain in neutral.
"Belgium," said the girl, "I hardly like to say it."
"Belgium?" exclaimed Arthur.
A drunken seven-toed sloth staggered past, gawked at the word and threw itself backward at a blurry-eyed pterodactyl, roaring with displeasure.
"Are we talking," said Arthur, "about the very flat country, with all the EEC and the fog?"
"What?" said the girl.
"Belgium," said Arthur.
"Raaaaaarrrchchchchch!" screeched the pterodactyl.
"Grrruuuuuurrrghhhh," agreed the seven-toed sloth.
"They must be thinking of Ostend Hoverport," muttered Arthur. He turned back to the girl.
"Have you ever been to Belgium in fact?" he asked brightly and she nearly hit him.
"I think," she said, restraining herself, "that you should restrict that sort of remark to something artistic."
"You sound as if I just said something unspeakable rude."
"You did."
In today's modern Galaxy there is of course very little still held to be unspeakable. Many words and expressions which only a matter of decades ago were considered so distastefully explicit that, were they merely to be breathed in public, the perpetrator would be shunned, barred from polite society, and in extreme cases shot through the lungs, are now thought to be very healthy and proper, and their use in everyday speech and writing is seen as evidence of a well-adjusted, relaxed and totally un****ed-up personality.
So, for instance, when in a recent national speech the Financial Minister of the Royal World Estate of Quarlvista actually dared to say that due to one thing and another and the fact that no one had made any food for a while and the king seemed to have died and most of the population had been on holiday now for over three years, the economy was now in what he called "one whole joojooflop situation," everyone was so pleased that he felt able to come out and say it that they quite failed to note that their entire five-thousand-year-old civilization had just collapsed overnight.
But even though words like "joojooflop," "swut," and "turlingdrome" are now perfectly acceptable in common usage there is one word that is still beyond the pale. The concept it embodies is so revolting that the publication or broadcast of the word is utterly forbidden in all parts of the Galaxy except for use in Serious Screenplays. There is also, or _was_, one planet where they didn't know what it meant, the stupid turlingdro- mes.

"I see," said Arthur, who didn't, "so what do you get for using the name of a perfectly innocent if slightly dull European country gratuitously in a Serious Screenplay?"

edutcher said...

"Torture" was OK with the Lefties when they thought their asses were on the line.

Only when they knew Dubya, Darth, Rummy, and Condi had made them safe and they needed a political edge did they make a fuss.

Put another way, the Lefties, in their yoot, had no problems with what the VC did to people on a daily basis.

And still don't.

PS bardseyeview is absolutely right.

tim maguire said...

Part of the problem with discussions of torture is that torture is usually defined (roughly) as "whatever the person arguing against it needs it to be."

All punishment is uncomfortable and unpleasant, so all punishment is arguably torture. But not all punishment is wrong. Obviously.

Our value as a culture and society is not drawn on whether we do or do not allow torture, but on what forms of torture we do or do not allow.

Though I've never been waterboarded and am open to the possibility that I might change my mind if I were, descriptions of it don't sound like torture to me.

I would consider "torture" to be techniques and punishments that fall into 1 of 2 categories: (1) that which is more unpleasant and uncomfortable than necessary to acheive a legitimate purpose (yes, I realize "legitimate" is a slippery term); and (2) that which inflicts permanent damage, whether physical or psychological.

William said...

You can fairly argue that torture debases the soul of the torturer, but you cannot fairly argue that torture does not work......At the Battle of the Bulge, there was an SS unit that went around executing American POW's. After the war, the men of this SS unit were interrogated harshly. Sen. Joe McCarthy accused the Army of using torture tactics to gain information from these SS detainees in order to gain convictions. When McCarthy raised this issue, the left did not flock to his banner and it's seldom mentioned as a fact in his favor. If noted at all, just the opposite......I'm in favor of using harsh methods on both SS detainees and AQ operatives. Perhaps I do not exist at the pinnacle of morality, but I'm closer to the top than this hypocrite.

machine said...

"The waterboarding of KSM led to Bin Laden's death."

When has this claim ever been proven?

Big Mike said...

So now humiliation is torture? Can we go back and indict the mean girls and bully jocks from high school?

Colonel Angus said...

.At the Battle of the Bulge, there was an SS unit that went around executing American POW's

When word of the Malmedy Massacre got out, captured SS troops were often shot outright. Skorzeny's 'Grief' commandos infiltrated behind American lines dressed as US MPs and were summarily executed as saboteurs when caught.

As I mentioned yesterday in an earlier thread, this country has no stomach for a real war. It can barely tolerate fraternity level hazing of Islamic terrorists that make the SS look like cub scouts.

LarsPorsena said...

Gosh! I can remember when folks like Akerman thought 'Pulp Fiction' with it's ball-gag and anal rape scenes was 'edgy' and provocative.

creeley23 said...

What does sitting quietly in a dark room with a crowd of comfortable strangers, watching huge, bright, clear moving pictures of actors pretending to be tortured do to our souls? I know the stock answer is: It's worse to live comfortably and complacently with a head free of any such picture. But the stock answer assumes that our souls are already dead.

I can't follow Ann's arguments here. The whole piece comes across as a slapdash set of emotional appeals and personal dislikes disguised as something larger.

[What does watching torture in a movie] do to our souls?

Leaving aside the question of what Ann means by the soul, I imagine the answer depends on any number of things -- from the nature of the torture, how it is filmed, and in what context to the millions of individual souls who might watch it and the particular moment in their lives when they do.

Does Ann believe there is only one answer to her question?

...the stock answer is: It's worse to live comfortably and complacently with a head free of any such picture.

I guess some might make that argument, though I'm not sure who does these days since, like it or not, most of us have already been so bombarded with violent images that, aside from small children, no one has a head free of such pictures.

My stock answer is that it depends on what the filmmaker is communicating, and potential viewers are free to pass on the communication.

But the stock answer assumes that our souls are already dead.

Really? No, the stock answer doesn't assume anything about our souls. It assumes that, at least in some cases, a person is better off being aware of uncomfortable truths as may be communicated in images. From there it's off to specific discussion of what images and what truths with plenty of room for individuals to stake out their own boundaries.

As far as Zero Dark Thirty goes, I'd say presenting torture makes sense, but no one is obliged to watch or is necessarily better for having done so.

machine said...

I trust what the soldiers say...and CIA interrogators...and scientists (science!)...and John McCain...

Torture doesn't work.

Clyde said...

I'm glad that Osama assumed room temperature. I have no desire to see a movie that supposedly overglorifies Obama's role in that temperature change.

I'll be seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey this weekend instead.

Colonel Angus said...

Torture doesn't work.

I agree. If the terrorist isn't willing to cooperate then his usefulness is nil and should be dispatched in the same manner that the Royal Navy eradicated piracy.

Big Mike said...

"Torture doesn't work" is a modern catechism, but (1) what is torture and(2) what does it mean to "work"?

If American interrogators use "harsh methods" on a suspected terrorist and are told that there is an arms cache at such-and-such a house on such-and-such a street, and a squad of soldiers goes to that house and finds an arms cache, then the "harsh methods" certainly have worked. If the soldiers find no such cache and no signs that there has ever been a cache in that house, then it has not worked.

And if merely humiliating a prisoner is now "torture," then the term has been defined down to the point were it has no meaning.

edutcher said...

machine said...

I trust what the soldiers say...and CIA interrogators...and scientists (science!)...and John McCain...

Torture doesn't work.


Waterboarding wasn't torture when Pelosi Galore signed on to it.

Marla Singer said...

I don't think our "souls" are any better off watching romantic comedies. What do our "souls" get out of that?

Some people are made very uncomfortable by violent scenes, but still watch them, for various reasons including the fact that life shouldn't be all comfortable all the time. You want to criticize people for being too comfortable but want to remove yourself from a place that would make you uncomfortable. Reading abou torture in the New York Times really isn't the same, in terms of making you understand how uncomfortable it is, or forcing you to confront it in a visceral way. You don't want to be forced. You want to be comfortable in this world that includes torture, so you'd prefer to read about it, if even that, in a dry and removed sort of way. That's fine, just like I guess it's fine for people to disparage hunting and think that the normal and comfortable way of buying meat (in little plastic-wrapped trays) is superior, but you don't then have the moral standing to criticize other people who want to be reminded of how uncomfortable it really is.

Since I've had two little boys, I've been very surprised that children (or boys, at least) do not need to watch violence in order to put these ideas in their heads. Might makes right is already in their head; ways of hurting other people, some quite creative and powerful, are already in there, waiting to come out. It takes quite a lot of teaching to undo that, and even then it doesn't always work. It shouldn't be a surprise. Before the advent of the good/evil morality, the winners and the strong and the courageous were good, and the losers and weak and cowardly were bad--end of story. We like to think that our new beliefs are really superior, but those are just our beliefs. And the old beliefs still come out sometimes to make us uncomfortable with the very violent nature of the human animal.

Also, what creeley23 said.

Colonel Angus said...

Speaking of waterboarding I found this bit of trivia about the movie Jaws quite interesting.

To create the sound of a drowning woman during post-production, Susan Backlinie was positioned, head upturned, in front of a microphone, while water from above was poured down into her throat.

Lydia said...

This movie originally had an earlier release date, a month or so before the election, I think.

Wonder if the ambiguity about our tactics re terrorists was the reason it was held back until after? Just in case it might have driven more lefties over to the Green Party, or something.

Robert Cook said...

"...the left needs to keep a cocoon around the 'truism' that torture doesn't work."

One does not need to be "left" to oppose torture as reprehensible and monstrous, one just has to be a human being rather than a beast.

It's not about whether torture "works" or not--based on testimony, I'm inclined to agree it can sometimes elicit factual information, but generates more noise than signal in most cases--it's about what is humane and ethical.

(And legal, let's not forget that. Torture is illegal, and there are no extenuating circumstances under the law that remove or mitigate that illegality.)

Those who offer specious and self-serving "arguments," (rather, childish excuse-making), that this country or that person or those terrorists regularly inflict so much more terrible acts of mayhem on their victims than we do (assuming this is even true) simply lower the bar on our own standards of behavior, and place us in the same category of evil actors as those against whom we're being compared, supposedly favorably. All this may even arguably demonstrate is that we may not yet have acted in ways as thoroughly vile as these others, but we have certainly joined their company.

John McCain said it best, in objecting to justifications of our use of torture in response to (and as contrasted with) the violent acts of others: "It's not about who they are, it's about who we are."

Robert Cook said...

"Waterboarding wasn't torture when Pelosi Galore signed on to it."

Sure it was, and still is. To the degree Pelosi--or anyone else in Washington--"signed on to" waterboarding, she and they are complicit in war crimes.

machine said...

"Waterboarding wasn't torture when Pelosi Galore signed on to it."

Yes, it was. And it was when we pursued lower-ranking Japanese soldiers as war criminals for doing this to our soldiers.

Colonel Angus said...

Those who offer specious and self-serving "arguments," (rather, childish excuse-making), that this country or that person or those terrorists regularly inflict so much more terrible acts of mayhem on their victims than we do (assuming this is even true)

I'm pretty confident our military personnel weren't making snuff videos where helpless prisoners were having their heads sawed off like Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl.

I must say Robert, you appear to have little compunction in attributing the worst of all 'Wall Street' financial types while granting a margin of doubt the width of the English Channel to Islamic murderers who post their butchery on YouTube for all to see.

That is certainly some unique bubble of reality you constructed for yourself.

Colonel Angus said...

I think we can all agree that torture is abhorrent, however its always viewed in the abstract and not as something any one of us would probably ever consider. Yet, if placed in a situation where a captured terrorist refused to divulge where a daycare was about to be blown up, I suppose torturing the bastard is a lessor evil than letting a bunch of toddlers be vaporized.

The problem with fighting savages like Islamic terrorists is that inevitably, you have to sink to their level or be willing to settle with the death of your side on a massive scale in order to 'maintain ones humanity'. Quite frankly I don't see how its possible to do so in either case.

machine said...

Do you think torture should official US policy?

With a published handbook explaining exactly how to perform torture according to official US policy?

creeley23 said...

Speaking (sort of) of Kathryn Bigelow and waterboarding, back in 1991 Bigelow pulled off a sturdy crime thriller centered on surfers titled "Point Break," which this ex-surfer enjoyed greatly.

Robert Cook said...

"I'm pretty confident our military personnel weren't making snuff videos where helpless prisoners were having their heads sawed off like Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl."

Of course, we'll probably never know what acts were carried out and recorded on video by our government, as the CIA illegally destroyed the tapes they made of interrogations where torture was reportedly inflicted on their bound and helpless subjects.

Colonel Angus said...

Do you think torture should official US policy?

Of course not. Then again we should also come to the realization that there is a heavy price to be paid for our 'humanity' toward a subhuman foe.

Colonel Angus said...

Of course, we'll probably never know what acts were carried out and recorded on video by our government, as the CIA illegally destroyed the tapes they made of interrogations where torture was reportedly inflicted on their bound and helpless subjects.

The poor dears. On the other hand we do know the brutality exhibited by the Islamic terrorists to anyone who has the misfortune to wind up in their hands.

The Drill SGT said...

harsh methods work. if the context is correct, and the questioning is framed properly to obtain verifiable results rather than wild conjecture.

examples:

- Is Althouse a Russian agent? a useless question that will ultimately be answered in whichever way the detainee thinks will cause him less pain (or more harm to the questioners)
- where did Meade bury the explosives? If the answer isn't correct, x will happen to you... The results of this question are verifiable and feedback can be applied to improve the responses..

The dirty secret is that everybody breaks. It's just a matter of how long you last. Which is why SERE training accepts the secret and focuses on protecting operationally sensitive information until it is o less value.

buying time by resistance.

creeley23 said...

There is no doubt that waterboarding is a strong technique, but since we regularly subject our soldiers to it as part of special forces training and mere journalists are willing to undergo it for the sake of magazine articles, distinguishing waterboarding from real tortures such as drilling people with Black-and-Deckers, ripping out their fingernails, or wiring up their genitals to crank telephones seems reasonable to me.

Wake me up if anyone volunteers for those tortures.

And I'm sure the people whom Obama personally approved for predator bombing would have preferred to have been waterboarded and gone on living instead of being blown up along with any unlucky family or friends who happened to be nearby.

Colonel Angus said...

And I'm sure the people whom Obama personally approved for predator bombing would have preferred to have been waterboarded and gone on living instead of being blown up along with any unlucky family or friends who happened to be nearby.

There are plenty of liberals who are strongly opposed to the drone strikes so in that respect, they have much in common with the Islamic terrorists who don't like it either.

Clearly we are destined to lose the assymetric war we are currently fighting if the Greenwalds and Robert Cooks get their wish. We certainly are giving the terrorists a reason to plan and execute future attacks with impunity if we aren't even going to fight them on the cheap using unmanned drones.

bgates said...

Do you think torture should [sic] official US policy?

Do you think sending military units or vehicles into sovereign nations with which we are not at war for the purpose of finding and killing or capturing enemies of the United States should be official US policy?

What should go in the publicly available handbook about that?

Robert Cook said...

"The poor dears. On the other hand we do know the brutality exhibited by the Islamic terrorists to anyone who has the misfortune to wind up in their hands."

So, you see nothing wrong in our behaving according the bad standards set by those whom we deem to be villains.

I thought we were the "exceptional" country, the acme of virtue in the world.

Oh, well...leave it to those who always say we're the greatest country in the world to endorse our acting like those we consider the worst of the worst.

Colonel Angus said...

Do you think sending military units or vehicles into sovereign nations with which we are not at war for the purpose of finding and killing or capturing enemies of the United States should be official US policy?

If said sovereign nation isnt going to do it then they are basically harboring the enemy.

Colonel Angus said...

So, you see nothing wrong in our behaving according the bad standards set by those whom we deem to be villains.

Typically in warfare, even during WW2 in the ETO, both sides by and large adhered to the rules of war. The North African campaign was noted by both sides as acting in a chilvarous manner. Then you have the Eastern Front where barbarity ruled. It's called reciprocity Robert.

I thought we were the "exceptional" country, the acme of virtue in the world.

We are. The luckiest thing that can happen to you is bring born in America.

Oh, well...leave it to those who always say we're the greatest country in the world to endorse our acting like those we consider the worst of the worst.

I think hacking off someone's head and filming it for the world to see is the worst of the worst. Right up there with shoving a wheelchair bound cripple over the side of a cruise ship because he was a Jew. When we start doing that than maybe you'll have something for comparison.

Robert Cook said...

"If said sovereign nation isnt going to do it then they are basically harboring the enemy."

So you see nothing wrong with our acting criminally by invading sovereign countries--whether with boots on the ground or via flying robots--in order to kill those we deem to be the enemy.

I'm sure at least most of the children who have been killed by our drone assassins were not guilty of thoughtcrimes (or worse) against America the Greatest and Bestest Country of the Freest and the most Cowar--er, uh, the Bravest that ever existed in any plane of existence.

Colonel Angus said...

Perhaps the problem, Robert, is you see Islamic terrorists as human beings and I don't. One has to forego their humanity to do the things they do.

Colonel Angus said...

So you see nothing wrong with our acting criminally by invading sovereign countries--whether with boots on the ground or via flying robots--in order to kill those we deem to be the enemy.

Not at all. They certainly deem you as the enemy Robert and attacked us long before we had boots on the ground or sent in drones.

They certainly don't care about children Robert considering how many they have murdered with suicide bombers.

Robert Cook said...

"Perhaps the problem, Robert, is you see Islamic terrorists as human beings and I don't. One has to forego their humanity to do the things they do."

Well, they are human beings, brutal acts notwithstanding. Would you accept that American soldiers who do brutal acts--or pilots who kill children via dronebot--are not human beings?

That aside, how do you know who they--that is, those we're killing--are? It's easy for us to kill people and label them after the fact as "terrorists." How do we know who they are--or were? How casually or carefully are we throwing around the term "terrorist?"



"'So you see nothing wrong with our acting criminally by invading sovereign countries--whether with boots on the ground or via flying robots--in order to kill those we deem to be the enemy.'

"Not at all. They certainly deem you as the enemy Robert and attacked us long before we had boots on the ground or sent in drones. They certainly don't care about children Robert considering how many they have murdered with suicide bombers."

Again...who is "they?"

And, invading or shooting missles into sovereign countries because we claim they're harboring bad guys is an act of aggressive war, a crime. When the deposed Shah of Iran, a brutal dictator, fled to America under Carter's invitation, would Iran have been justified to shoot rockets into an American city in order to kill him because we were harboring a criminal, (their Hitler, you might say)? That's what you're justifying, nothing less.

No one killed us before we put boots on the ground other than those who died on 9/11.

But again, you're happily defining our standard of behavior down. You and your ilk love to trumpet America the Virtuous, yet you excuse our barbarity by saying "they did it first and worse. (This last argument is, in many cases, arguable.)

Colonel Angus said...

Well, they are human beings, brutal acts notwithstanding. Would you accept that American soldiers who do brutal acts--or pilots who kill children via dronebot--are not human beings?

If they were specifically targeting children, no, I consider them as subhuman as child predators.

That aside, how do you know who they--that is, those we're killing--are? It's easy for us to kill people and label them after the fact as "terrorists

Well I'm going on the safe assumption that we aren't spending millions of dollars killing innocent goat herders and children on a hunch. Kind of like when we designated strategic bombing targets in WW2, they were done based on best intelligence. Again, it is very telling that you assume the very worst of our side while assuming the terrorists are just simple innocent folk.

Again...who is "they?"

Well let's see Robert, who is strapping explosives to themselves and detonating then in crowded markets. Who then patiently waits for emergency services to show up and then sets off another round? Is it the CIA's special jihadistis unit?

Oh and comparing the Shah to Hitler reaches such a depth of absurdity it doesn't warrant a response.

No one killed us before we put boots on the ground other than those who died on 9/11.


Such a statement displays a complete ignorance of Islamic terrorism that reaches long before 9/11.

But again, you're happily defining our standard of behavior down. You and your ilk love to trumpet America the Virtuous, yet you excuse our barbarity by saying "they did it first and worse. (This last argument is, in many cases, arguable.)

Your last remark of course is expected. Obviously everything bad in the world is Americas fault. Then again you and your ilk happily denigrate the country they live in yet cheerfully enjoy the fruits and luxuries it offers. You remind me of the typical spoiled teenager who hates his patents yet is too much of a coward to admit he/she can't survive without them. If you had any self respect at all, you would never live in a country whose values and government you find so distasteful.

Icepick said...

What is the "silver bullet" that will humanely extract critical information from enemy combatants?

Higher tax rates on rich people.

Icepick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Icepick said...

Someone mentioned above that Japanese soldiers were tried for war crimes for water-boarding, or something analogous.

I would point out that more than a few people in the US armed forces were of the opinion that had we lost they would have been tried for war crimes. Amongst those people were Curtis LeMay and Chuck Yeager. (LeMay's quotes are well known. You can find Yeager's comments in his autobiography.)

The Japanese soldiers were tried for war crimes not because they committed war crimes, but because their side lost. If we had really cared about the concept we would have tried our own leaders, all the way up to the top, for ordering various horrors committed.

Fortunately common sense prevailed. The most immoral thing in war is losing if that means subjecting your children to the whims of the enemy.

Besides, decades later Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks would make it safe for The Greatest Generation to be given the most exalted moral status of any group of human beings that ever lived.

Robert Cook said...

"Well let's see Robert, who is strapping explosives to themselves and detonating then in crowded markets."

How do you know our drone bombers are killing these people? In fact, how could we be killing the suicide bombers, since they're killing themselves?

You point to the awful acts of awful people but do not make the connection between them and those we're killing with our robot bombs.

How do you know we're killing the suicide bombers and no one else? How do you know we're killing the suicide bombers at all? How do you know who the people are we're killing? You don't and I don't and I'd bet our own government doesn't.

You are happy to let reason slumber within you so you don't have to face the uncomfortable implications that arise from considering we may be simply killing people like you and me...and their children.

"Well I'm going on the safe assumption that we aren't spending millions of dollars killing innocent goat herders and children on a hunch."

Hahahahaha! There's nothing at all "safe" about that assumption.

"Oh and comparing the Shah to Hitler reaches such a depth of absurdity it doesn't warrant a response."

That's a very convenient dodge. I don't say the Shah was equivalent to Hitler in his depredations, but I suggest that he may have been seen by the Iranians as their equivalent...a brutal dictator who tortured and murdered many Iranians. If "Hitler" is too provocative a comparison, then let's compare him to...Saddam Hussein.

If the Iranians saw the Shah as their Saddam Hussein, who fled Iran and was given safe harbor by America, why could they not have sent missiles flying to whatever city held the Shah in an attempt to kill him? After all, you justify our sending robot bombs flying into Pakistan and wherever else we please because "they're harboring the bad guys."

Eric said...

...it presents torture as the ignorant alternative to that silver bullet."

The idea that "torture doesn't work" seems to be an article of faith in some circles, because then you don't have to deal with the ticking bomb scenario. It's a cop out - torture does work, which is why it's employed all over the world.

There are certainly some good reasons to argue against the use of torture, but your stance against torture can't be unequivocal unless you're willing to let innocent people die.

Eric said...

In fact, how could we be killing the suicide bombers, since they're killing themselves?

Obviously we're not killing suicide bombers. But every suicide bomber has a network of people propelling him to his fateful day. There are financiers, bomb makers, strategists, and the people who do the actual indoctrination. Those are the people we're killing, and it's a good thing.