Explaining how the Soviets had made Poland the main target for Nato, [Polish defence minister Radoslaw Sikorski] argued: "We need to know about our past. Historians have the right to know the history of the 20th century. If people did some things they were not proud of, that will be an education for them too.
"I think it is very important for a democracy for the citizens to know who was who, who was the hero and who was the villain. On that basis we make democratic choices.
"I think it is also important for the health of civic society for morality tales to be told: that it pays to be decent and that if you do things that did not serve the national interest, one day it will come out and you might be called to account."
…Interestingly, the Warsaw Pact training map illustrates a defensive military operation in response to a Nato nuclear strike, and the Soviet forces appeared to stop at the English Channel. French territory is also avoided, a fact which Waldemar Wojcik, head of Poland's central military archive, explained by the fact that France was outside Nato's integrated military command structure.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
"I think it is very important for a democracy for the citizens to know who was who, who was the hero and who was the villain"
Friday, December 02, 2005
Sarcelles-Guantanamo aller-simple direct. Heading out on the red eye from Paris' shithole banlieues to sunny Cuba. Hasta la vista, suburban shithead. We learn that those those secret CIA planes made stop-overs in Fwance. Guess the French have some explaining to do before they get back to lesson giving.
This will really get the French going. Screw 'em. They believe that human rights can be granted to animals.
CNN picks up the story.
Le Figaro gives some flight data:
Les aéroports français ont, eux aussi, accueilli les avions de «Guantanamo Express». Le premier vol identifié date du 31 mars 2002. Le plan de vol indique que le Learjet N221SG a décollé à 13 h 36 de Keflavik, en Islande, à destination de Brest-Guipavas, d'où il serait reparti vers la Turquie. Il arrivait de Saint-Jean de Terre-Neuve. La Sécurité canadienne enquête d'ailleurs sur les allers et venues de ce Learjet. Cette escale à la pointe de Bretagne a vraisemblablement été nécessitée par l'autonomie limitée de ce biréacteur de 6/8 sièges qui ne peut rallier Guantanamo à Istanbul non stop. La direction de l'aéroport de Guipavas a retrouvé trace de ce vol ; elle a précisé au Figaro que, selon les indications données par l'équipage, celui-ci était ce jour-là seul à bord. Après Brest, l'avion a mis le cap sur Rome pour une nouvelle escale.
L'autre vol d'un avion connu comme étant utilisé par la CIA date du 20 juillet 2005 : le Gulfstream III, immatriculé N50BH, est arrivé à Paris-Le Bourget à 19 h 22, venant d'Oslo-Gardermoen, selon le quotidien norvégien Ny Tid. A l'aéroport parisien, les avions gouvernementaux américains sont d'ordinaire accueillis par Aéroservices situé près du Musée de l'air et de l'espace, mais il est vraisemblable que le jet a été reçu ce jour-là par une société d'assistance implantée dans une zone plus discrète. L'avion s'est posé, par ailleurs, dix fois au Canada et six fois à Guantanamo. Biréacteur capable de traverser l'Atlantique sans escale, il appartient à une firme new-yorkaise. Elle le confie en gestion à RSVPair, qui le loue 4 550 dollars l'heure.
Nous savions depuis le début qu'il était très facile de partir en guerre, mais très difficile de se retirer d'Irak.
Dominique de Villepin
CNN, 29 November 2005
Here is an ironic finding I brought back from Iraqsays Joe Lieberman, who noticed something that that all-knowing Frenchman, Villepin, somehow managed to omit in the presentation of his deep wisdom on CNN (final paragraph).
While U.S. public opinion polls show serious declines in support for the war and increasing pessimism about how it will end, polls conducted by Iraqis for Iraqi universities show increasing optimism. Two-thirds say they are better off than they were under Saddam, and a resounding 82% are confident their lives in Iraq will be better a year from now than they are today. What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory.
Paul Volcker's findings on Oil for Food have been widely received as the final word on the United Nations relief program for Saddam Hussein's Iraqwrites Claudia Rosett.
Far from it--as Mr. Volcker himself has admitted. In reporting that Saddam, along with his smuggling and oil graft, diverted $1.8 billion in kickbacks from U.N.-approved relief contracts under the program, Mr. Volcker underestimates, quite probably by billions, the amount the U.N. allowed Saddam Hussein and many of his favored business partners to graft out of Oil for Food deals for goods such as oil parts, milk, laundry soap and baby food. In low-balling the total, Mr. Volcker understates the negligence of the U.N., and overlooks some of the most potentially virulent links in Oil for Food.
Here are the headlines you may have missed: "Iraqi democracy takes bow to standing ovation, global applause" Or "Iraqi voter turnout another blow to al-Qaida." Or perhaps: "Joyful Americans dance in streets as Iraqi voters approve new constitution."Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin points out that
Fat chance. In some towns and cities, Americans who rely on the local paper for news might not have known there was a constitutional referendum in Iraq on Saturday. Or that there was almost no violence. Or that more than 10 million Iraqis voted, including many Sunnis.
The victims of Saddam are being overshadowed by media reports about terror-apologizing "human rights" activists decrying the "show trial." Meanwhile, journalists are complaining about courtroom security procedures.Several months back, Sabrina Tavernise in the New York Times:
It is to be the largest military action led by Iraqis since the American-led invasion two years ago and an important step by the government to convince Iraqis, who have been killed by the hundreds in the past month, that it is serious about taking on the insurgency.The IHT version of the article was slightly different:
…the first attempt by the government to convince Iraqis, whose deaths have jumped five-fold since it took power, that…Notice the passive tense in both versions:
Iraqis, who have been killed by the hundreds in the past month…A couple of days later, an IHT headline read Iraqi insurgents drive out doctors (and inside, "Insurgents in Iraq are targeting doctors") while Tavernise's original NYT headline reads Facing Chaos, Iraqi Doctors Are Quitting.
Iraqis, whose deaths have jumped five-fold since [the government] took power…
Again, the use of the passive, as if Iraq's chaos were something the Americans had brought with them (willingly or not) to an innocent, unsuspecting, more or less normal country, and as if the chaos were not the result of deliberate decisions planned, discussed, and carried out by amoral thugs; and, while we're on the subject, the continued use of the word "insurgents", as if the deliberate targeting of healers were an act of justified rebellion. (Almost as courageous as using dogs — merci à Hervé). A much better expression would be "paramilitary death squads" (see below).
As if that were not enough, we get this immortal sentence, in which Tavernise lends credence to the 12 years of propaganda from the state-owned press of a one-party dictatorship.
Under Saddam Hussein, the health care system in Iraq was a showcase, with many Iraqis receiving excellent, inexpensive care, though portions of the population — poor Shiites in Baghdad slums and Kurds in Iraq's north — were skipped. Later, under the economic sanctions of the 1990's, Saddam used the increasingly worn system to persuade the world to ease economic pressure.(On the web version, this was rendered: "In the early years of Saddam Hussein, the health care system in Iraq was a showcase, with most Iraqis receiving excellent, inexpensive care. But Saddam let the economic penalties of the 1990s bite deeply into medical care and used the damage to the increasingly worn system to try to persuade the world to ease economic pressure on Iraq.")
Can you imagine the outrage — domestic and international — if Washington were to say something along the lines of "the health care system in America is a showcase, with many Americans receiving excellent, inexpensive care, though portions of the population — poor blacks in L.A. slums, rednecks in America's south, and the inhabitants of New Orleans — were skipped."
But when foreign countries make that kind of claim, or even loftier ones of 100% protection (such as the case of the Soviet Union), the MSM takes those claims at face value.
The victims of Saddam are being overshadowed by media reports about terror-apologizing "human rights" activists decrying the "show trial." Meanwhile, journalists are complaining about courtroom security procedures.And
Under Saddam Hussein, the health care system in Iraq was a showcaseIs it truly any wonder why we blog?
Let the last word go to the late Steven Vincent:
Once, in a Baghdad restaurant, I overheard some Westerners and Iraqis discussing the conflict — when the Westerners asked what they thought of the "occupation", one Iraqi retorted, "What 'occupation'? This is a liberation."
…How, then, should we describe this war? What words and concepts define the situation more accurately? Since Iraq is now liberated, we might replace "occupation" with a word taken from the post-Civil War era: "Reconstruction," as in, "the Coalition is reconstructing Iraq." We might then exchange the term "guerilla fighters" for the more precise term "paramilitaries." Rather than noble warriors fighting to liberate their people, "paramilitaries" evoke images of anonymous right-wing killers terrorizing a populace in the name of a repressive regime — which is exactly what the fedayeen and jihadists are doing. Or we could simple dust off the venerable term "fascists."
The middle minded in Europe have a kind of permanent rage about ‘certain’ parts of the world, forgetting entirely about the backward, small-minded, deadly state of corrosion within. On 1 December The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial on the predicable Kabuki of their moral outrage (subscription), the one which want to appear to intend to do good, but has yet to help anyone, anywhere, except to aggrandize the delusion of those who howl.
Never, NEVER, will they dare discuss or pay attention to their more harmful and unproductive practices of the same, or have enough actual moral forthrightness to understand that you can’t emotionally oppose war and emotionally support terror movements at the same time:
Europe is enthralled by another American "torture scandal." Governments demand the truth behind allegations, first made by the Washington Post last month, that the CIA has operated covert prisons in Europe and secretly transported terrorist suspects through European airports. Human Rights Watch claims to have located the prisons in "New Europe" -- Poland and Romania.Indeed, let the theater begin. For the sake of our own self-hatred, the west needs to only fight with Nerf weapons, while we obsess with our own wrongness in going after scum who decapitate the people they kidnap. After all it’s the polite thing to do.
We'd be the first to applaud Europeans for finally concerning themselves with moral principles instead of commercial interests. Many of the Middle East's problems, including terrorism, would be easier solved if Europe were seriously concerned about morality. Europe would no longer be Iran's No. 1 trading partner, and its companies wouldn't be able to attend trade fairs in Sudan anymore.
Unlike American companies -- recently defamed in Germany as "(blood) suckers" and "locusts" by the former government -- European firms are quite busy in Sudan. The chamber of commerce and industry in Stuttgart has enthused over what great opportunities Sudan's oil resources offer to German companies.
Lest people think they are doing something morally reprehensible, the salesmen from Stuttgart prefer to describe the massacres of black Africans in Darfur as "political disturbances."
Where is the outrage? How does that jibe with supposed European values?An angle that would be painful for many of them to see, therefore it isn’t presented. When you’re dealing with emotional adolescents, you need to realize that one of the biggest reasons they say and do things, even when they no longer believe them, is because it is embarrassing to admit to others and oneself that they were ever wrong. It is very literally the hobgoglin of the small mind – and it thinks an rubber wristband or a “Free Tibet” sticker will actually “Free Tibet.”
In much of Europe's public debate, the true meaning of human rights has degenerated into a tool that gives anti-Americanism an aura of legitimacy. The real, horrendous human-rights violations in the Middle East, North Korea, China, Cuba, etc., are largely ignored or relegated to news blurs on the back pages. For front-page coverage, you need an American angle.
After all, aren’t they people who can do anything? If they think about something often enough, it can BE! If they can dream of a perfect world, it’s possible right?
Let's look at some recent European violations of human rights.Nor have they ever done anything to definitively help the poor or the oppressed in the world other than wallow around in their love of themselves with ‘the world’s biggest white ribbon.’ In effect it’s one part of brain-dead ‘wristband generation’ trying to outdo another part of it, in their inability to do anything.
Let's imagine for a moment the media coverage, the moral outcries and the calls for inquiries if those unfortunates had not been harmless migrants held in the City of Lights but jihadi terrorists held by Yankee soldiers?
Or take the double standard about allegations that CIA planes have used European airports to bring terror suspects to third countries where they might be tortured. The fact that Europe routinely sends back thousands of asylum seekers to countries where they could be tortured does not make the front pages, though.
. . .
Those decrying secret prisons and tougher interrogation methods (assuming the allegations have some validity) have yet to spell out what kind of "humane" treatment they would give to bombers whose mission it is to destroy Western civilization. If they can't, their complaints are hypocritical and intellectually shallow. How many bombing murders on European soil does it take for this realization to sink in?
First, Corine Lesnes has this to say about the secret prisons in Europe:
For the Europeans, who contest the legality of this prison [Guantanamo], visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross, but where 500 alleged "terrorists" are held, the very passage of such [CIA] planes, if it is confirmed, is a violation of the values which form the foundation of the European Union.Never mind whether France's "understanding of Russian sensibilities" represents the values which form the foundation of the European Union.
Never mind whether Germany's attempt to sell weapons to China represents the values which form the foundation of the European Union.
Notice how the piece, allegedly by an independent reporter, not only fits strangely into the French authorities' (self-serving) policy (stand up to democrats who you know won't do much against you, but refrain from antagonizing dictators you want to do business with), but also how it forms a message to the Eastern Europeans: "For the Europeans who contest" means that all real, true-blood Europeans stand up, or should stand up, to America; "the very passage of such planes … is a violation of the values which form the foundation of the European Union" means that countries that have been in the Common Market from its inception would naturally understand this and that any discussion thereof doesn't even have to be brought up, so clear-cut this is.
…his partisanship creates a certain bad feeling. Such as the systematic and anachronistic use of the word "genocide" to qualify the repression that befell the peoples of the CaribbeanGautheret goes on to complain about similar provocations, the ultimate being the book's cover,
a photograph of Adolf Hitler meditating on the tomb of the Emperor in June 1940.I have no problem with that book review, except this: how many scores, nay, hundreds, of French (and European) novels, history books, school textbooks, and school essays use the term "genocide" for the treatment of Native Americans and American slaves, without a French journalist, historian, and/or teacher jumping in to say somebody may have gone overboard? And how many times have you heard, read, or seen comparisons of Bush with Adolf Hitler?
We have said it before, and we will say it again. We the bloggers on this weblog are not against France, per se. It is the double standards — and the fact that they form a long, unending pattern — which grates us and which we, consequently, document here.
In other words, an agency mixing together militants, poster pasters, strongmen, policemen, and thugs in charge of supporting, by any means possible, the decisions of the General [de Gaulle]. Including, and especially, violence.Francis Cornu and Martine Delahaye note that the "names of Chirac and Pasqua are mentioned".
Notwithstanding films and TV shows, how often do French newspapers and other media mention the SAC (who even knows the organisation's name, in France or elsewhere?) when they relate the heroics of Charles de Gaulle and the Fifth Republic, either to a foreign audience or to a domestic one? Not often, n'est-ce pas? In contrast, how often do French novels, documentaries, and schoolbooks mention the CIA (a word so present on everybody's lips we hardly need list that organisation's full name) in relation to periods of recent of American society? Now that's an entirely different story…
Finally, best of all, we have Christophe Jakubyszyn's story on Villepin's passage on CNN. The title in the newspaper of reference says it all: Mr Villepin Explains France to Americans, i.e., the clueless American dolts are put right by a lucid Frenchman. (Or, at least, he tries to, as the first sentence says; the Yanks are that clueless.) The "French prime minister corrects straight away the star journalist, Christiane Amanpour." The newspaper that has been independent since its inception goes on: "The reply of CNN, a band at the bottom of the screen while the prime minister is speaking", indicating that the riots broke out when two adolescents were electrocuted.
The French speak as if CNN represented America, and that every America media outlet is out to "get" France, no matter how low they stoop, even going to the point of . Wake up, guys: You are not getting special treatment, ill or otherwise; Americans do this to everybody (although the MSM does do it less to America's Democrats and their ilk, but that needn't concern foreign countries).
"'Affirmative action?' asks the CNN journalist, who is finally seeing a point of convergence between the two countries" writes the newspaper of reference, pointing her out as a clueless American who is uninterested in seeing the truth — i.e., that France is far above America — but who is frothing to get France down to America's (low) standard.(I guess Jakubyszyn doesn't realize Amanpour is not American.)
There is more about Villepin's wisdom, "which he spectacularly defended at the UN tribune in February 2003." But I think we have heard — and read — enough.
Again, the only creatures capable of understanding everything in the world, about themselves and about others, are the French. The French and their ruling élites.
Update: See what Villepin forgot to tell his American audience…
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Backstage at the Country Music Awards, celebrities provided messages of thanks to soldiers around the globe as part of the launch for Thank A Soldier Week which begins December 19th.That week is normally the one when people are quite preoccupied preparing to spend time with their own families and friends – the week that a soldier far from home is least likely to have contact with friends back home. That makes it a better time than any to reach out to them.
During Thank a Soldier Week (December 19-25), Townhall.com is encouraging Americans to stop for a moment and give thanks to the men and women risking everything for us.
Soon after the bombing in July 1985, French media reported the theory that Britain's foreign intelligence MI6 agency had sunk the Rainbow Warrior as the environmental group was protesting France's nuclear testing in the South Pacific …A few days earlier, The Independent's Stephen Castle revealed the Soviet plan to annihilate Europe, while Graham Bowley reported in the International Herald Tribune that Poland's government opened up previously sealed Warsaw Pact military archives, including a 1979 map showing Soviet plans to sacrifice Poland in the event of nuclear war with the West.
Malcolm Rifkind, then a Foreign Office minister, instructed British diplomats in Paris to urgently tell the French government to put a stop to this "campaign of misinformation." The scandal rocked then French President Francois Mitterand's government, which for more than two months denied responsibility for the act of state terrorism.
The map showed the widespread destruction of Western Europe, including mushroom clouds over key areas of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark. Cities such as Brussels would have been destroyed as Soviet troops advanced to the Western shores of the ContinentBack in September, John Hooper wrote in the Guardian that
A book published in Italy … is set to reignite a smouldering controversy over how close the Nazis came to manufacturing a nuclear device in the closing stages of the second world war.Nobody believed him.
The 88 year-old author, Luigi Romersa, is the last known witness to what he and some historians believe was the experimental detonation of a rudimentary weapon on an island in the Baltic in 1944.
Hitler's nuclear programme has become a subject of intense dispute in recent months, particularly in Germany. An independent historian, Rainer Karlsch, met with a barrage of hostility when he published a study containing evidence that the Nazis had got much further than previously believed.
Mr Romersa, a supporter of Mr Karlsch's thesis, … told the Guardian how, in September 1944, Italy's wartime dictator, Benito Mussolini, had summoned him to the town of Salo to entrust him with a special mission. Mussolini was then leader of the Nazi-installed government of northern Italy and Mr Romersa was a 27 year-old war correspondent for Corriere della Sera.
Mr Romersa said that when Mussolini had met Hitler earlier in the conflict, the Nazi dictator had alluded to Germany's development of weapons capable of reversing the course of the war. "Mussolini said to me: 'I want to know more about these weapons. I asked Hitler but he was unforthcoming'."
Mussolini provided him with letters of introduction to both Josef Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief, and Hitler himself. After meeting both men in Germany, he was shown around the Nazis' top-secret weapons plant at Peenemünde and then, on the morning of October 12 1944, taken to what is now the holiday island of Rügen, just off the German coast, where he watched the detonation of what his hosts called a "disintegration bomb".
"They took me to a concrete bunker with an aperture of exceptionally thick glass. At a certain moment, the news came through that detonation was imminent," he said. "There was a slight tremor in the bunker; a sudden, blinding flash, and then a thick cloud of smoke. It took the shape of a column and then that of a big flower.
… "The effects were tragic. The trees around had been turned to carbon. No leaves. Nothing alive. There were some animals — sheep — in the area and they too had been burnt to cinders."
On his return to Italy, Mr Romersa briefed Mussolini on his visit. In the 1950s, he published a fuller account of his experiences in the magazine Oggi. But, he said, "everyone said I was mad".
By then, it was universally accepted that Hitler's scientists had been years away from testing a nuclear device. … But documents published recently by Mr Karlsch and an American scholar, Mark Walker of Union College, Schenectady, have punctured this consensus.
Are you ready?
Are you sitting down?
Here it is: Regularly, the world is informed of secrets which it hadn't known about before; or, at least, if it had reason for suspecting the truth, secrets that it wasn't sure about before.
Thus, 30 years after Watergate. we find out that Deep Throat was a head of the FBI by the name of W Mark Felt.
Thus, decades after World War II, we discover that Britain had broken Germany's enigma code and America had broken the wartime code of Japan's imperial army.
Thus, 50 years after world War II, we discover that the real culprit behind the massacre of thousands of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest were not the Nazi army but the Soviet KGB.
Thus, after the end of the Cold War, we discover Warsaw Pact plans for atomic attacks on Western European cities, along with maps of West German cities renamed with communist hagiography.
Thus, we discover that a certain policy of a given government (in the case mentioned above, of the French governement) was based perhaps not on objectivity, but on partisanship, and that it may even have lied, or been willing to lie (or at least mislead), in order to cover up small dirty secrets of its own.
So far, so good. I am not revealing any deep secrets.
But here is where the paths start to merge.
Let's take the Cold War.
While Warsaw Pact generals were detailing intensive attacks to "annihilate Europe", the "voices of wisdom" were telling us that "mad" NATO generals were warmongers incapable of tolerance. (At best, the Western NATO allies and the Soviets were "equally bad".)
If you believed in Soviet aggression, you were "met with a barrage of hostility", you were told you were a reactionary, blinded, "mad" (see title of post).
This is what brings us to both Saddam Hussein and the war on terror.
We are "met with a barrage of hostility". We are told that Saddam's attitude, Iraq's aggressiveness has nothing to do with the war; we are told that there is "naturally" no link between Saddam and al-Qaeda; we are told that we are chumps to think that WMDs ever existed in Iraq, that with 100% certainty there were were none, and we are told that to accept with no scepticism whatsoever the (Saddamite Information Ministry's) death figure of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children and with no scepticism whatsoever that the West bears full responsibilty for the dead; we are told the American army's presence in Iraq is what is stoking the terrorists' plans and what is making their numbers grow; we are told the United Nations could have, would have brought about a solution satisafactory to all; we are told that the UN and members of the "peace camp" had nothing but honorable intentions; we are told to think that the stand of the "peace camp" was based on the better angels of our nature.
And if you don't believe that, you must be a reactionary, blinded, "mad" (see title of post).
Insomuch as it appears that we have been informed of past secrets in the 1990s, in the 1980s, in the 1970s, in the 1960s, and so on back throughout history, it stands to reason that we will be informed of similar secrets in the 2000s, in the 2010s, in the 2020s, and so on forever into history.
Who, then, are the descendants of, say, the 1980s pacifists to say that there is no connection whatsoever between Saddam and Al Qaeda; that there can be no question that Saddam had no WMD; that it's all America's fault; that European "allies" have nothing but honest, reasonable, and down-to-earth opinions that should be listened to; that America is doing nothing but stoke the embers of what would otherwise be a pretty benign status quo; and that Bush lied?
As Winston Churchill said:
If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.
Merkel grew up behind the iron curtain. She seems to know what the face of evil looks like:
Germany will not be blackmailed by kidnappers, says Merkel:
«"We will not be blackmailed," said Merkel in her first speech to the German parliament since taking office last week. "We cannot fail in our fight against terrorism."She also seems to know well enough what diplomacy is. To take on these clowns she appears to realize that she has to ‘slip a slimy one’ to the left at home as well as the kidnapping decapitators and their bewilderingly naïve passive supporters.
In a video delivered by the kidnappers to a public TV station in Baghdad, the kidnappers demanded the German government to stop cooperating with the Iraqi government and threatened to kill the hostages otherwise.»
«Also on Wednesday, Susanne Osthoff's sister Anja urged the German government to show flexibility to save the life of Susanne.Is that a call to take a realistic line with global jihad, or a dhimm view regardless of the cruelty and criminality of the actions?
"I hope that the government is not too obstinate and will give more thought to changing its policy on Iraq," said Anja. »
One could look at it as a small beginning for Merkel, given the narrow set of views she’s forced to work with in Germany. Merkel condemns Iran's statements on Israel:
« German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday condemned as "absolutely unacceptable" statements by Iran's president that Israel should be "wiped off the map."»Euro-lefties might be convinced of some sort of cloudy concept to support this, such as it representing a muscular form of feminism for the gilded age that they’re hoping for. What I see is a leader who understands perception and has her head screwed on straight. Don’t forget that Woodrow Wilson started off with a generally domestic focus only to find himself doing a great deal of international statesmanship.
As someone would say, “developing”…
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.Today is the birthday of Winston Churchill, the British Statesman, Soldier, and Author (1874-1965) who said:
A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.That last one is important enough that the French version be presented also:
A joke is a very serious thing.
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.
A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him.
Advertising nourishes the consuming power of men. It sets up before a man the goal of a better home, better clothing, better food for himself and his family. It spurs individual exertion and greater production.
Air power can either paralyze the enemy's military action or compel him to devote to the defense of his bases and communications a share of his straitened resources far greater that what we need in the attack.
All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.
The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.
Les hommes trébuchent parfois sur la vérité, mais la plupart se redressent et passent vite leur chemin comme si rien ne leur était arrivé.
Does your emphasis on authority give any substance to the claim, so often found on the lips of liberals, that conservatism is repressive and dictatorial?Max Goss asks Roger Scruton during his interview (in two parts) with the author of The Meaning of Conservatism.
To describe an obligation as transcendent in my sense is not to endow it with some kind of oppressive force. On the contrary, it is to recognize the spontaneous disposition of people to acknowledge obligations that they never contracted. There are other words that might be used in this context: gratitude, piety, obedience -- all of them virtues, and all of them naturally offered to the thing we love.
What I try to make clear in my writings is that, while the left-liberal view of politics is founded in antagonism towards existing things and resentment at power in the hands of others, conservatism is founded in the love of existing things, imperfections included, and a willing acceptance of authority, provided it is not blatantly illegitimate. Hence there is nothing oppressive in the conservative attitude to authority.
It is part of the blindness of the left-wing worldview that it cannot perceive authority but only power. People who think of conservatism as oppressive and dictatorial have some deviant example in mind, such as fascism, or Tsarist autocracy. I would offer in the place of such examples the ordinary life of European and American communities as described by 19th century novelists. In those communities all kinds of people had authority -- teachers, pastors, judges, heads of local societies, and so on. But only some of them had power, and almost none of them were either able or willing to oppress their fellows.
…The example of the hunt master is a good one, since it shows both the spontaneity of authority and the willingness of people to accept it, when they see how intricately it is connected to their own well-being and to the well-being of their community. To put the point in the arid terms of game theory: authority is a spontaneous solution to problems of coordination, and may be the only solution available. In all matters when discussion, voting and bargaining would delay the decision beyond the point when it must be made, the artefact of authority is the rational solution to problems of collective choice. This is obviously so in the military, but the principle extends through all society.
A £48m, five-star, 23-storey hotel rising in the city centre; an opulent palace complex being turned into a theme park; cheap flights to the picturesque "Venice of the east" - all the trappings of a country gearing up for a tourist boom.Why, oh why, wouldn't the neo-cons listen to the wise voices of the "peace camp"?
Except the country in question is Iraq. With a new constitution and elections in the offing, officials insist there is a new beginning. The tourist board has 2,400 staff and 14 offices.
There has been a rise in the volume of travellers, with Iraqis either leaving or expatriates returning for visits. And there is also the continuous and steady number of foreigners, mainly contractors, coming in for the huge wages they can now command for working in such a risky environment.…
Another plan is to turn Saddam Hussein's former palaces at his home town of Tikrit into a themed tourist destination. The complex, which contains 18 palaces and 118 other buildings, is surrounded by rolling gardens overlooking the Tigris.
Mohammed Abbas, a regional official, said: "Ordinary Iraqis were never allowed into these palaces. It will be an opportunity for them to see how their money was spent. International visitors will also be able to see the kind of lifestyle Saddam enjoyed."
L'histoire de ce fils de polytechnicien tombé tout jeune dans l'extrême gauche est d'abord une histoire de pouvoir. Jean Guisnel, auteur de Libération, la biographie (La Découverte), raconte : "Serge est arrivé au journal, au cours de sa conception, comme un apparatchik de la Gauche prolétarienne. Ce sont ses talents de manager et de politique qui l'on conduit là où il est."
If Any World Leader Deserves to Be Compared to Adolf Hitler, Who (Besides Bush, Naturally) Should It Be?
A French historian has said that Napoleon Bonaparte had provided the model to Adolf Hitler for the latter's 'Final Solution' by slaughtering more than 100, 000 Caribbean slavesreports ANI (danke schön to S Stevens) in news too unimportant to be noticed at length by Frenchmen in general, too occupied as they are in always castigating America for her treatment of her Indians and black slaves (among other things), and, specifically, by some of our readers, too preoccupied in denouncing the alleged racism of fellow webmaster U*2 and other like-minded Americans.
Claude Ribbe has [in] The Crime of Napoleon, accused the French emperor of genocide and held him responsible for gassing rebellious blacks, a century before Hitler and Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler put the extermination of the Jews into practice at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka Dachau, and other concentration camps across occupied Europe.Who is it again who is the one of the heroes of France's current prime minister?
Napoleon had apparently used extreme methods to put down a ferocious uprising in Haiti at the start of the 19th century. Then known as San Domingo, the colony was considered a jewel of the French Empire, and to save it, French troops launched a campaign killing all blacks aged over 12.
The rebels were gassed in the ships' holds using sulphur dioxide and the killed rebels were replaced with new docile slaves from Africa …
While sitting around melting the polar ice caps and putting puppies in the blender, this item turned up.
It has entirely to do with the EU expressing bitterness at the US and punishing Poland and Romania to do it. I suppose they see no irony in this at all, that they want to dictate to the US, or their own member states, and yet still expect them to furnish them with the action that their assumed wisdom and authority comes from. AP:
«EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini warned Monday any EU nation found to have operated secret CIA prisons could have their EU voting rights suspended.The EU already gave up on their investigation of the matter, having found nothing meaningful, but apparently that’s not enough for these narcissists. They actually made the statement at a counter-terrorism conference. Brussels being whit it is, suspending a nation's vote is effectively an economic sanction.
"I would be obliged to propose to the Council (of EU Ministers) serious consequences, including the suspension of voting rights in the Council," Frattini said at a counter-terrorism conference.»
Indeed the laughs just keep on coming. This headline is especially telling:
EU countries warned over alleged secret CIA jails
«Franco Frattini, the EU justice and security commissioner, said the countries would face "serious consequences" if reports prove true that the U.S. intelligence agency has been running clandestine detention centres in Europe to interrogate suspects in Washington's war on terror.»Like the source of the Abu-Ghreib business which was caused by the transparency and reporting of the US military, they want the US to blow what is likely an ongoing anti-terrorist operation itself. Very bright, and very encouraging indeed. Let me repeat this: they made the statement at a counter-terrorism conference.
As far as opacity of power is concerned, just who IS this mysterious ‘Europe’ anyway? Isn’t it made up of member states who are scolding themselves? It also goes to the root of the whole problem they have: the democratic deficit: some member states are forcing themselves on member states that are nearly as populous, and certainly more geopolitically relevant for suicidal and emotional reasons.
Further from the CBC:
«The secret detention system was conceived in the first months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the newspaper said.»This clearly attests to their ineffectual “shaking their tiny fist” nature. If they’re so good at dealing with terror, how is it that detention facilities were being operated on their patch for 4 years without the EU knowing?
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
The most recent AP-Ipsos poll, released on November 11, brought bad news for President Bushwrites John Rosenthal.
The headline told the story: "Poll: Most Americans Say Bush Not Honest". Coming just after the indictment of vice presidential aide "Scooter" Libby for perjury in the so-called CIA leak affair, the implication was clear: the majority of Americans were beginning to get what Democrats and Frenchmen had understood all along (or almost): "Bush lied!"Read the answer (the one neither the American nor the French MSM will tell you).
But this was not the first time that an AP-Ipsos poll had been the bringer of bad tidings for the President. … Why, if one were to judge by AP-Ipsos polling, one would have to conclude that American attitudes toward their President -- and indeed themselves! -- were beginning to seem positively… well, French. Americans were finally acknowledging that they were mistaken for re-electing the malevolent boob -- and that they were themselves uncivilized and fat to boot.
But, then again, if one were to judge by AP-Ipsos polling, George Bush would not have been re-elected in the first place. On October 22, 2004, just ten days before the presidential election and at a time when other polls almost all showed Bush in the lead with just a smattering of ties, the AP released an Ipsos poll showing John Kerry with a three-point lead. …
So, maybe Americans are not turning French, after all. Maybe the anomalous AP-Ipsos results have to do rather with the firm that is doing the polling.
What exactly is Ipsos?
in their war against the U.S.:
«The German Foreign Ministry has reported that one of its citizens in Iraq has been missing for five days.Make that the lefts war agaist the U.S. A small band of kidnappers seems to have made 80 million Germans very easy to manipulate - nearly into mush. One of the group is a retired professor and peace campaigner in his 70s. The kidnappers will likely very easily evoke more sympathy from German peaceniks for those who kidnapped their "co-religionists".
Germany's ARD television reported the woman had been kidnapped and that the pictures were taken from a video demanding Germany stop any dealings with Iraq's government.
The group said it would not identify the other three people taken hostage, but stressed it worked on behalf of Iraqi civilians.
"The team's work has focused on documenting and focusing public attention on detainee abuses, connecting citizens of Iraq to local and international human rights organisations, and accompanying Iraqi civilians as they interact with multinational military personnel and Iraq's government officials," the group said.»
Mind control ray? We report, you decide.
I think we all know how theyre likely to react, but a surprise would be nice from time to time.
The Iraq of Corporal Mayer's memory is not solely a place of death and loss; it is also a place of hope
The Iraq of Corporal Mayer's memory is not solely a place of death and losswrites Mark Sappenfield in the Christian Science Monitor (shookhran to Robert Tracinski and Gregory Schreiber).
It is also a place of hope. It is the hope of the town of Hit, which he saw transform from an insurgent stronghold to a place where kids played on Marine trucks. It is the hope of villagers who whispered where roadside bombs were hidden. But most of all, it is the hope he saw in a young Iraqi girl who loved pens and Oreo cookies…. It is a perception gap that has put the military and media at odds, as troops complain that the media care only about death tolls, while the media counter that their job is to look at the broader picture…. Kidnappings and unclear battle lines have made war correspondents' jobs almost impossible. Travel around the country is dangerous, and some reporters never venture far from their hotels. 'It has to have some effect on what we see: You end up with reporting that waits for the biggest explosion of the day,' says Mr. Hart.Robert also has this:
Lincoln famously said that you cannot fool all of the people all of the time--and my experience is that, on the big issues, we can count on most of the people to do their best, most of the time. Here iss an example: a poll showing that most of the people see through the Democrats attempt to paint their demands for American surrender and defeat as an act of "patriotism."Nevertheless, Robert adds that
The left's wave of defeatism over the war against Sunni insurgents in Western Iraq may not cause an American withdrawal and defeat in Iraq. But it has already achieved the strategic goals set by the leftists--and by their allies in Tehran: it has paralyzed the US and Europe in dealing with Iran's nuclear threat.
The latest symptom of paralysis is the failure of the US and Europeans to push for UN sanctions against Iran, despite overwhelming evidence of Iran's nuclear program. Instead, our leaders are considering a stalling action--one meant to stall us, not the Iranians--put forward by Russia.
Having outsourced our Iran policy to wobbly, appeasing allies--Britain, France, and Germany--will the Bush administration and the Europeans outsource the whole problem to the corrupt and hostile government of Russia?
That is, all of 20 minutes...
Following the implementation of the Taif Accord when Lebanon state of Civil War seemed to truly cease, a number of measures were taken to “detribalize” the social and political environment. Among them were the making of military service an opportunity to integrate a society in conflict by breaking up regional military units, and consciously blending the assignments in platoons to reflect the range of society. Unit cohesion is critical to protecting one anothers’ lives, by its’ very nature causes people to make friends across confessional and social lines.
Key to this was half an billion dollars a year in aid including military aid from the U.S. It has been so successful, that they’re actually phasing conscription out, and now feel quite comfortable saying that without the national defense forces, they could not guarantee the promise of a free society in a culture where the general instinct would be to evade or bribe ones' way out of military service.
France now finds itself toying with similar things, and at a similar level to a nation that had to reconstruct itself after it went through a 16 year long civil war.
France 2 reports that the Prime Minister rejected the notion of introducing a kind of compulsory civilian service similar to a military draft, but had at least weasely, guarded proponency to at least removing another barrier, albeit lat in the game: the photo required with a CV.
«M. de Villepin indicates that "he doubts that the idea of an obligatory non-military national service would be accepted by young people, and that that it corresponds to our needs".It all goes back to the onerous “employment contract” system which is wrecking the economy, and making the getting of a job vicious and unrelated to the appropriateness of a job-seeker to the field.
It was in addition declared "completely favorable" to the experimentation of the use on anonymity in job applications.
For M.Villepin "the process has limits, but if that gives access in job recruiting, all the better", adding that "he’s not sure that it is necessary to make it compulsory but that it should be encouraged", after "discussion with labor and industry".»
They have a long way to go. Traditionally the Army was a means of getting young men to grow into decent, productive, and non-rioting citizens – the essence of the Republican concept. But in a society where anti-military notions are always lurking quietly in the background, it’s hard to see how they have any other method with which to create a viable and productive social contract.
Back before the war in Iraq, French and German voices expressed some fairly prescient nervousnesswrites John Vinocur in the IHT.
Enlarging the European Union to 25 members, they said, meant a surge of new American influence in Europe because the newcomers' allegiance, in terms of security and national independence, belonged to the United States.Meanwhile, the country of the twins has only ordered 17,000 copies of the latest Astérix album — the one with unflattering allusions to President Bush, which has been savaged (for entirely different reasons) throughout Europe.
Poland, by far the biggest and most influential entrant from the old Soviet bloc, and the region's potential power center, was privately singled out as the heart of the problem.
In the run-up to the fighting, this French-German concern about losing authority in Central and Eastern Europe became a significant element in formulating a joint policy against the war. The idea was to press the newcomers hard to line up with Paris and Berlin, the subtext being big trouble in the EU later if they did not. Explaining his position to German Social Democratic officials, Gerhard Schröder said then that Iraq, beyond the conflict itself, was crucial in insuring Europe's "independence" over the next decades.
In the event, the Poles made what Jacques Chirac leapt to call the existentially wrong decision of siding with the Americans and British. Almost all the Poles' former Warsaw Pact allies joined them.
As it turned out, Geza Jeszenszky, a former Hungarian foreign minister, talking at a conference here, said, "The Poles made up their minds, and you know, it hasn't hurt them in the least in the EU."
Forward to the present through both French and German talk of "strategic partnerships" with Russia, considerable American and Polish misery in Iraq, and little in the way of new unity inside the EU. Whatever, the Polish view of reality hasn't changed.
This year, as if to expressly confirm the Poles' always nervous reading of history and geography, the Russians of Vladimir Putin and the Germans of Schröder, without consultation, completed a gas pipeline deal that will let Russia supply Germany while bypassing Poland. France, in the meantime, after anchoring the Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis of the Iraq war, created "the Polish plumber" as a notional free-trade bogeyman, and blocked an attempt to open the EU to more competition in the service sector.
The result: The Poles have wrapped themselves deeper into an approach to the world and Europe that Schröder and Chirac so wanted to discourage - tightening binds to the United States, reconfirming their priorities in terms of national independence and national identity, and refusing to define a European future that could ever be in opposition to the Americans.
Last month, the country elected a new center-right Parliament that will hold to what is pretty much both conviction and emotion here: that you stick to the Americans for security, support for your still great notions of freedom, emphasis on the place of religion in society, and Polish independence. You back neighboring Ukraine's break from dictatorship to democracy to the hilt, and you wish insistently and out loud for democratic change in Belarus, another neighbor still under authoritarian rule.
The EU, rather more coolly, is associated mostly here with both caution and aspirations for prosperity - specifically the cash subsidies that are needed to sustain the Polish voyage to higher living standards. As for freedom, the Polish mind-set on Western Europe had been indelibly marked by considerable hesitation there to openly support the Solidarity trade union's rebellion against Communist rule in 1981. No joke, an Austrian speaker recalled, but his country's labor officials didn't recognize Solidarity until 1989! …
Jeszenszky, who likes the Poles, sounded forlorn - but mostly about Hungary. He said, "Our thinking stops with trying to be clever and not taking a stand."
Monday, November 28, 2005
The two very unpleasant but very real cases in which we are morally permitted — indeed morally compelled — to do terrible things
DURING THE LAST FEW WEEKS in Washington the pieties about torture have lain so thick in the air that it has been impossible to have a reasoned discussion. … Now, John McCain has great moral authority on this issue, having heroically borne torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese. McCain has made fine arguments in defense of his position. And McCain is acting out of the deep and honorable conviction that what he is proposing is not only right but is in the best interest of the United States. His position deserves respect. But that does not mean, as seems to be the assumption in Washington today, that a critical analysis of his "no torture, ever" policy is beyond the pale.Update to the Glittering Eye who invokes Saint Augustine's stand against torture: Actually, Saint Augustine and this post do not contradict one another. Augustine is saying that torture to "discover whether [an accused person] is guilty" is unacceptable, and Charles Krauthammer says nothing that contradicts that. Au contraire: …"whatever extreme measures are used are for reasons of nothing but information. Historically, the torture of prisoners has been done for a variety of reasons apart from information, most prominently reasons of justice [cf Augustine] or revenge. We do not do that. We should not do that. Ever."
Let's begin with a few analytic distinctions. For the purpose of torture and prisoner maltreatment, there are three kinds of war prisoners:
First, there is the ordinary soldier caught on the field of battle. There is no question that he is entitled to humane treatment. Indeed, we have no right to disturb a hair on his head. His detention has but a single purpose: to keep him hors de combat. The proof of that proposition is that if there were a better way to keep him off the battlefield that did not require his detention, we would let him go. …
Because the only purpose of detention in these circumstances is to prevent the prisoner from becoming a combatant again, he is entitled to all the protections and dignity of an ordinary domestic prisoner--indeed, more privileges, because, unlike the domestic prisoner, he has committed no crime. He merely had the misfortune to enlist on the other side of a legitimate war. He is therefore entitled to many of the privileges enjoyed by an ordinary citizen--the right to send correspondence, to engage in athletic activity and intellectual pursuits, to receive allowances from relatives--except, of course, for the freedom to leave the prison.
Second, there is the captured terrorist. A terrorist is by profession, indeed by definition, an unlawful combatant: He lives outside the laws of war because he does not wear a uniform, he hides among civilians, and he deliberately targets innocents. He is entitled to no protections whatsoever. People seem to think that the postwar Geneva Conventions were written only to protect detainees. In fact, their deeper purpose was to provide a deterrent to the kind of barbaric treatment of civilians that had become so horribly apparent during the first half of the 20th century, and in particular, during the Second World War. The idea was to deter the abuse of civilians by promising combatants who treated noncombatants well that they themselves would be treated according to a code of dignity if captured--and, crucially, that they would be denied the protections of that code if they broke the laws of war and abused civilians themselves.
Breaking the laws of war and abusing civilians are what, to understate the matter vastly, terrorists do for a living. They are entitled, therefore, to nothing. Anyone who blows up a car bomb in a market deserves to spend the rest of his life roasting on a spit over an open fire. But we don't do that because we do not descend to the level of our enemy. We don't do that because, unlike him, we are civilized. Even though terrorists are entitled to no humane treatment, we give it to them because it is in our nature as a moral and humane people. And when on rare occasions we fail to do that, as has occurred in several of the fronts of the war on terror, we are duly disgraced.
The norm, however, is how the majority of prisoners at Guantanamo have been treated. We give them three meals a day, superior medical care, and provision to pray five times a day. Our scrupulousness extends even to providing them with their own Korans, which is the only reason alleged abuses of the Koran at Guantanamo ever became an issue. That we should have provided those who kill innocents in the name of Islam with precisely the document that inspires their barbarism is a sign of the absurd lengths to which we often go in extending undeserved humanity to terrorist prisoners.
Third, there is the terrorist with information. Here the issue of torture gets complicated and the easy pieties don't so easily apply. Let's take the textbook case. Ethics 101: A terrorist has planted a nuclear bomb in New York City. It will go off in one hour. A million people will die. You capture the terrorist. He knows where it is. He's not talking.
Question: If you have the slightest belief that hanging this man by his thumbs will get you the information to save a million people, are you permitted to do it?
Now, on most issues regarding torture, I confess tentativeness and uncertainty. But on this issue, there can be no uncertainty: Not only is it permissible to hang this miscreant by his thumbs. It is a moral duty.
Yes, you say, but that's an extreme and very hypothetical case. Well, not as hypothetical as you think. Sure, the (nuclear) scale is hypothetical, but in the age of the car-and suicide-bomber, terrorists are often captured who have just set a car bomb to go off or sent a suicide bomber out to a coffee shop, and you only have minutes to find out where the attack is to take place. This "hypothetical" is common enough that the Israelis have a term for precisely that situation: the ticking time bomb problem.
And even if the example I gave were entirely hypothetical, the conclusion--yes, in this case even torture is permissible--is telling because it establishes the principle: Torture is not always impermissible. However rare the cases, there are circumstances in which, by any rational moral calculus, torture not only would be permissible but would be required (to acquire life-saving information). And once you've established the principle, to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, all that's left to haggle about is the price. In the case of torture, that means that the argument is not whether torture is ever permissible, but when--i.e., under what obviously stringent circumstances: how big, how imminent, how preventable the ticking time bomb.
That is why the McCain amendment, which by mandating "torture never" refuses even to recognize the legitimacy of any moral calculus, cannot be right. There must be exceptions. The real argument should be over what constitutes a legitimate exception.
Let's Take An Example that is far from hypothetical. You capture Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Pakistan. He not only has already killed innocents, he is deeply involved in the planning for the present and future killing of innocents. He not only was the architect of the 9/11 attack that killed nearly three thousand people in one day, most of them dying a terrible, agonizing, indeed tortured death. But as the top al Qaeda planner and logistical expert he also knows a lot about terror attacks to come. He knows plans, identities, contacts, materials, cell locations, safe houses, cased targets, etc. What do you do with him?
… It would be a gross dereliction of duty for any government not to keep Khalid Sheikh Mohammed isolated, disoriented, alone, despairing, cold and sleepless, in some godforsaken hidden location in order to find out what he knew about plans for future mass murder. What are we supposed to do? Give him a nice cell in a warm Manhattan prison, complete with Miranda rights, a mellifluent lawyer, and his own website? Are not those the kinds of courtesies we extended to the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, then congratulated ourselves on how we "brought to justice" those responsible for an attack that barely failed to kill tens of thousands of Americans, only to discover a decade later that we had accomplished nothing--indeed, that some of the disclosures at the trial had helped Osama bin Laden avoid U.S. surveillance?
Have we learned nothing from 9/11? Are we prepared to go back with complete amnesia to the domestic-crime model of dealing with terrorists, which allowed us to sleepwalk through the nineties while al Qaeda incubated and grew and metastasized unmolested until on 9/11 it finished what the first World Trade Center bombers had begun?
Let's assume (and hope) that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has been kept in one of these black sites, say, a cell somewhere in Romania, held entirely incommunicado and subjected to the kind of "coercive interrogation" that I described above. …
But let us push further into even more unpleasant territory, the territory that lies beyond mere coercive interrogation and beyond McCain's self-contradictions. How far are we willing to go?
This "going beyond" need not be cinematic and ghoulish. … Consider, for example, injection with sodium pentathol. (Colloquially known as "truth serum," it is nothing of the sort. It is a barbiturate whose purpose is to sedate. Its effects are much like that of alcohol: disinhibiting the higher brain centers to make someone more likely to disclose information or thoughts that might otherwise be guarded.) Forcible sedation is a clear violation of bodily integrity. In a civilian context it would be considered assault. It is certainly impermissible under any prohibition of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. …
Less hypothetically, there is waterboarding, a terrifying and deeply shocking torture technique in which the prisoner has his face exposed to water in a way that gives the feeling of drowning. According to CIA sources cited by ABC News, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed "was able to last between two and 2 1/2 minutes before begging to confess." Should we regret having done that? Should we abolish by law that practice, so that it could never be used on the next Khalid Sheikh Mohammed having thus gotten his confession?
…elected leaders, responsible above all for the protection of their citizens, have the obligation to tolerate their own sleepless nights by doing what is necessary--and only what is necessary, nothing more--to get information that could prevent mass murder.
GIVEN THE GRAVITY OF THE DECISION, if we indeed cross the Rubicon--as we must--we need rules. The problem with the McCain amendment is that once you have gone public with a blanket ban on all forms of coercion, it is going to be very difficult to publicly carve out exceptions. …
…I would propose, contra McCain, a ban against all forms of torture, coercive interrogation, and inhuman treatment, except in two contingencies: (1) the ticking time bomb and (2) the slower-fuse high-level terrorist (such as KSM). Each contingency would have its own set of rules. In the case of the ticking time bomb, the rules would be relatively simple: Nothing rationally related to getting accurate information would be ruled out. The case of the high-value suspect with slow-fuse information is more complicated. …
One of the purposes of these justifications would be to establish that whatever extreme measures are used are for reasons of nothing but information. Historically, the torture of prisoners has been done for a variety of reasons apart from information, most prominently reasons of justice or revenge. We do not do that. We should not do that. Ever. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, murderer of 2,973 innocents, is surely deserving of the most extreme suffering day and night for the rest of his life. But it is neither our role nor our right to be the agents of that suffering. Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. His, not ours. Torture is a terrible and monstrous thing, as degrading and morally corrupting to those who practice it as any conceivable human activity including its moral twin, capital punishment.
If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew nothing, or if we had reached the point where his knowledge had been exhausted, I'd be perfectly prepared to throw him into a nice, comfortable Manhattan cell and give him a trial to determine what would be fit and just punishment. But as long as he had useful information, things would be different.
Very different. And it simply will not do to take refuge in the claim that all of the above discussion is superfluous because torture never works anyway. Would that this were true. Unfortunately, on its face, this is nonsense. Is one to believe that in the entire history of human warfare, no combatant has ever received useful information by the use of pressure, torture, or any other kind of inhuman treatment? It may indeed be true that torture is not a reliable tool. But that is very different from saying that it is never useful.
The monstrous thing about torture is that sometimes it does work. … Faced with a similar choice [as the Israelis in 1994], an American president would have a similar obligation. To do otherwise--to give up the chance to find your soldier lest you sully yourself by authorizing torture of the person who possesses potentially lifesaving information--is a deeply immoral betrayal of a soldier and countryman. Not as cosmically immoral as permitting a city of one's countrymen to perish, as in the Ethics 101 case. But it remains, nonetheless, a case of moral abdication--of a kind rather parallel to that of the principled pacifist. There is much to admire in those who refuse on principle ever to take up arms under any conditions. But that does not make pure pacifism, like no-torture absolutism, any less a form of moral foolishness, tinged with moral vanity. Not reprehensible, only deeply reproachable and supremely impracticable. People who hold such beliefs are deserving of a certain respect. But they are not to be put in positions of authority. One should be grateful for the saintly among us. And one should be vigilant that they not get to make the decisions upon which the lives of others depend.
… As for exception number two, the high-level terrorist with slow-fuse information, Stuart Taylor, the superb legal correspondent for National Journal, argues that with appropriate legal interpretation, the "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" standard, "though vague, is said by experts to codify . . . the commonsense principle that the toughness of interrogation techniques should be calibrated to the importance and urgency of the information likely to be obtained." That would permit "some very aggressive techniques . . . on that small percentage of detainees who seem especially likely to have potentially life-saving information." Or as Evan Thomas and Michael Hirsh put it in the Newsweek report on McCain and torture, the McCain standard would "presumably allow for a sliding scale" of torture or torture-lite or other coercive techniques, thus permitting "for a very small percentage--those High Value Targets like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed--some pretty rough treatment."
But if that is the case, then McCain embraces the same exceptions I do, but prefers to pretend he does not. If that is the case, then his much-touted and endlessly repeated absolutism on inhumane treatment is merely for show. If that is the case, then the moral preening and the phony arguments can stop now, and we can all agree that in this real world of astonishingly murderous enemies, in two very circumscribed circumstances, we must all be prepared to torture. Having established that, we can then begin to work together to codify rules of interrogation for the two very unpleasant but very real cases in which we are morally permitted--indeed morally compelled--to do terrible things.
To understand things that may seem foreign and theoretical to us, I have often found it helpful to put a personal context to it. Imagine that a neighboring house has been blown up, with all its inhabitants inside it, and it is discovered that the people had all been chained down to prevent them from escaping before the fireball went off. Now imagine you have found the guilty party, or even only a suspect, albeit a pretty credible one. At that moment, a policeman comes over from your own house and gives you this message: your spouse, your children, your parents, and, say, a half dozen of your friends have been chained to the walls. No bomb has been found. Yet.
What do you do? A related question: what would you do if you were one of the chained persons, with your friends, your children, your nieces and nephews, and other family members in risk of suffering a premature (and horrible) death, and a person you knew well -- perhaps your spouse -- refusing to do anything because it would bring "injury" upon the torturer. Personally, the answer is easy: I would not forgive that person (either in this life or in the afterlife) for sacrificing good and honest peoples' lives so that a piece of $&*@ should not feel violated — nor should I!....
Theoretical? Imagine Zacarias Moussaoui, the only 9-11 terrorist to have been captured before the attack on the World Trade Center. Imagine if that Frenchman, under torture, had named only one of his co-conspirators. Could 9-11 have been averted? Could at least one of the four planes' hijackings have been fouled, avoiding, say, the attack on the South Tower? Those are examples — one hypothetical, the other real — of what Charles Krauthammer calls
cases in which we are morally permitted--indeed morally compelled--to do terrible things.