Sunday, April 26, 2009

Success in the "War on Terror?"

This post has nothing original to say. Even fertile minds sometimes need to get seeds from elsewhere, to mangle a metaphor.

It is easy to dismiss the claims of the far right, Mr. Cheney, clowns on Fox, and various fans of torture. I do it, but I wonder if what we believe is true - is it true that torture is not a useful tool in getting information? Even if it were a useful tool, I would still reject it, because I think the essential strength of this country and all countries is moral. At the end of the day, if countries are not believable I think they will succeed only by force, and if they do that, they may win in the short run but not the long run.

But I am suspicious of myself. It's too much of a goo-goo argument. Everything in the end works out. Let's do what is moreal and ethical and that will be the most successful. Too easy! Yet it is the belief I walk around with. Of course, since I am just a bystander, I can afford to be self-indulgent. Still, I believe.

The other side says, "The Bushies kept us safe." It is an argument that reeks of bullshit to me. I thought, well, yes, we've been safe, but who knows what did that? Where is the evidence? When I hear "It's classified," I just don't believe it. And these guys are inveterate liars.

But what I hadn't thought of is this, from the Washington Monthly:

A TWIST OF THE 'KEPT US SAFE' ARGUMENT.... As the Bush/Cheney administration was poised to end, and there were an abundance of pieces reflecting on the Bush era, the most common defense tended to be that Bush "kept us safe." I've never understood this argument.

Indeed, it's generally offered with a series of pretty important caveats. Except for the catastrophic events of 9/11, and the anthrax attacks, and terrorist attacks against U.S. allies, and the terrorist attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Bush's inability to capture those responsible for 9/11, and waging an unnecessary war that inspired more terrorists, and the success terrorists had in exploiting Bush's international unpopularity, the former president's record on counter-terrorism was awesome.

Ha! There's the answer. Plus the recent reports of what Cheney was looking for when they were torturing at the start - evidence linking Al Qaida with Iraq, which of course did not exist. Thus, torture the hell out of them because the objective was not truth at all, but convenient evidence.

Just trying to reason it through.

Budd Shenkin

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