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Author Topic: Rational, informed and conservative.
IrishTD
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Going back to something hobsen posted a couple pages back:
quote:
1) Bush misinformed the American people about how he decided to go to war. The Republican platform in 2000 called for removing Saddam, and US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill later reported that an attack on Iraq was discussed during Bush's first Security Council meeting.
This is not a surprising platform given the Iraq Liberation Act which called for regime change in 1998. Granted, the act specifically denied the use of military force (funny that, considering that the bombing campaign came a full 6 weeks after Clinton signed this act). In any case, here are the relevant paragraphs relating to Iraq in the 2000 Republican platform.

quote:
Perhaps nowhere has the inheritance of Republican governance been squandered so fatefully as with respect to Iraq. The anti-Iraq coalition assembled to oppose Saddam Hussein has disintegrated. The administration has pretended to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, but did nothing when Saddam Hussein's army smashed the democratic opposition in northern Iraq in August 1996. The administration also surrendered the diplomatic initiative to Iraq and Iraq's friends, and failed to champion the international inspectors charged with erasing Iraq's nuclear, biological, chemical, and ballistic missile programs. When, in late 1998, the administration decided to take military action, it did too little, too late. Because of the administration's failures there is no coalition, no peace, and no effective inspection regime to prevent Saddam's development of weapons of mass destruction.

A new Republican administration will patiently rebuild an international coalition opposed to Saddam Hussein and committed to joint action. We will insist that Iraq comply fully with its disarmament commitments. We will maintain the sanctions on the Iraqi regime while seeking to alleviate the suffering of innocent Iraqi people. We will react forcefully and unequivocally to any evidence of reconstituted Iraqi capabilities for producing weapons of mass destruction. In 1998, Congress passed and the president signed the Iraq Liberation Act, the clear purpose of which is to assist the opposition to Saddam Hussein. The administration has used an arsenal of dilatory tactics to block any serious support to the Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella organization reflecting a broad and representative group of Iraqis who wish to free their country from the scourge of Saddam Hussein's regime. We support the full implementation of the Iraq Liberation Act, which should be regarded as a starting point in a comprehensive plan for the removal of Saddam Hussein and the restoration of international inspections in collaboration with his successor. Republicans recognize that peace and stability in the Persian Gulf is impossible as long as Saddam Hussein rules Iraq.

Nothing explicit here about the use of force (to be expected), but certainly implied. However, given our previous history with Iraq, planning for some kind of attack would almost certainly be expected for an incoming administration.

Edit to add following link:
Republican Party platform found here (American Presidency Project).

[ November 18, 2009, 01:00 PM: Message edited by: IrishTD ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Republicans recognize that peace and stability in the Persian Gulf is impossible as long as Saddam Hussein rules Iraq."

Well, there's an unproven assertion implied as fact.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
Saying that it's not drowning the subject is like saying "We're not poisoning him; we're just not giving him anything to eat or drink at all."

That really doesn't make any sense, so I'm going to ignore it.

quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
Guess what else isn't drawn into the respiratory system during the procedure.

Air.

The precess makes it impossible to breath.

If you actually read the description, you would have encountered these sentences:

quote:
During those 20 to 40 seconds, water is continuously applied from a height of twelve to twenty-four inches. After this period, the cloth is lifted, and the individual is allowed to breathe unimpeded for three or four full breaths... The procedure may then be repeated.

quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
The person is not drowned. His fingers aren't broken, his skin isn't burned. He'll have no lasting physical effects. He almost certainly will have psychological after affects. I don't care. Stop trying to kill civilians and then will stop hurting you.

And, actually, right there at the end you point to the actual truth. It's not about doing anything directly useful, it's about tit-for-tat vengeance.
No that's not about vengeance at all! Vengeance would be torturing them for what they did. No one is claiming this was about vengeance.

The torture was to extract information and perhaps a secondary effect of making terrorists afraid to practice terrorism. That's coericion. I'll freely admit to that. Of course, the whole predator drones dropping bombs on their head procedure, probably gave that away.

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KE
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quote:
So, thus no water should be drawn into the respiratory system. Granted the procedure is rough and no doubt many did inhale some water. But it is designed and implemented as a psychological event, not to physically harm the person.

It is designed to simulate drowning. Ever almost drowned? It hurts. Your lungs burn and your brain, a physical thing, registers pain, and all pain is registered in the brain. So it isn't meant to cause "lasting physical harm".

And that isn't even addressing the fact that the brain is permanently injured and the brain is a physical thing.

KE

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Wayward Son
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If it doesn't cause permanent physical harn, it ain't torture, means that twisting someone's arm until he screams ain't torture. I don't think that satisfies anyone's definition.

If you think waterboarding ain't torture, check out this video.

"Mancow" decided to prove it ain't so bad, that it ain't torture.

He lasted all of six (maybe seven) seconds.

(The comment said someone else lasted 16 seconds. Whoo! [Roll Eyes] )

You have all the wonderful feelings and sensations of drowning.

That's torture.

No question.

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hobsen
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Repeated waterboarding can probably kill. The problem is the same as with "nonlethal" weapons used by police. Perhaps the weapon is only intended to give an incapacitating shock, but the officer may deliberately choose to shock a fragile old woman fifty times in a row. And if her heart stops, that may be what he wanted - to kill her without leaving a large pool of blood and a bullet hole in her body. He has a much greater chance of escaping punishment for what he can claim was at most excessive use of force in subduing a suspect resisting arrest.
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kenmeer livermaile
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"That really doesn't make any sense, so I'm going to ignore it."

Lack of water builds up toxins in the system and you die. Not that I think that was precisely what pyrt was after, but still, his ass is covered.

He was just making an analogy to show that an effect not be directly caused by intent to produce predictably bad results.

Like driving drunk and cranked on meth: you don't intend to cause a bad wreck, but everyone knows it's in the cards.

[ November 18, 2009, 04:11 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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seagull
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seekingprometheus:
quote:
I have noticed a trend of you changing the subject rather than acknowledge the validity of interlocutors' points.
Thank you for pointing out the apparent trend. I could try to wiggle out of it with the true and relevant assertion that: It is hard to avoid the impression of "changing the subject" when there is more than one subject that people find of interest. But the last sentence itself can be seen as a change of subject from the valid point that I do not always acknowledge the validity of interlocutors' points. There are so many valid points in seekingprometheus' insightful response that I am bound to miss some of them but let me at least try ...

I will try to address the point about the objective truth thread in that thread itself.

I also acknowledge that I often refuse to be dragged in to a discussion that I am not interested in and that I try to focus my own posts on subjects that are of interest to me. I believe we all do that and I see nothing wrong with it.

quote:
I do think it can be rightly criticized as failing to address the impact of the argument that actually has been made.
A well formed rational argument stands on its own merits, it does not need my acknowledgement to have an impact. I tend to respond only when I have something to add to the discussion. If someone else already wrote a response that addresses the impact, I see no point in reiterating it especially when the discussion already on the board is by people who are more informed than I am.

For example, I agree that talltwin's post about Clinton's impeachment was rational and insightful. I also think it was right on point, but I still found it irrelevant to what I care about so rather than distract this thread I started another one about the process of Clinton's impeachment. I believe that what my Arab friends have come to call "the Monica Lewinsky bombing of Iraq" caused more damage to the credibility of the US military than any of the issues that were actually discussed in the impeachment process itself. The message that the US military is used against foreign countries for "wag the dog" purposes and regardless of what the facts on the ground are was all too clear. I am not saying that it justifies what Cheney did. What I am saying is that by the time Bush/Cheney got around to it the US had no international credibility left to be destroyed by their actions.

I considered posting that I was disappointed with both parties for the way they handled the clinton impeachment and the weapons inspectors and the UN Sanctions, but decided not to do it. Considering the realistic need to "string up a politician as a scapegoat" and the fact that my expectations from politicians were very low to begin with saying that I was disappointed would have been disingenuous and irrelevant to the discussion so I chose to stay quiet.

Later, when you made that exquisite reference to being caught with the pants down, it gave me an opportunity to concisely express how I felt about arguments like "someone on my team did it, and I won't admit my team is capable of doing something wrong" in a context that is relevant to the topic of this thread.

quote:
Perhaps your point was that liberals are also guilty of irrationally defending the actions of their political leaders out of partisanship, so conservatives should not be criticized for doing so? ... I don't think that pointing out the sins of political opponents absolves one of the responsibility to make rational choices of one's own.
The fact that some "liberals are also guilty of irrationally defending the actions of their political leaders" was not my point. My point was exactly what I said: "regardless of which party he belongs to" and it was a concious choice not to mention specific names (like Giuliani, Sanford, Edwards and Clinton) because any specific example would distract from the point I was trying to make.

The more subtle point which often gets missed is that: NOTHING "absolves one of the responsibility to make rational arguments of one's own". "pointing out the sins of political opponents" is just a special case of that point.

Finally, with regard to your question about torture, I must admit that I am not as well informed on that topic as I would like to be. I must also admit that I prefer to remain less informed about it to becoming informed through first hand experience (either being tortured or as a torturer). [Humor]for one thing I wouldn't want to give Aris an excuse to chop off my head [Smile] [/humor]. Luckily, I can try to learn more without being personally involved. But even if I did, I am not sure it would help me get a clear answer to the question of whether "waterboarding should not be publicly defended as a policy of the US"?

I believe that there are some rare instances when torture (however you choose to define it) is justified and that there are many more instances when the same type of torture is not justified but people do it anyway. This is the reason that I personally do not condone torture even though I refuse to categorically condemn it. To me the discussion about whether you define waterboarding to be torture or whether the torture is physical or Psychological is moot. I care more about whether torture is justified in a specific situation than I do about publicly defending it as a policy.

With regard to your specific argument that publicly defending torture undermines our ability to protest when our soldiers are tortured. I acknowledge the logic but I reject the implication that people should avoid publicly defending torture because of it. I believe that it is futile to protest in the first place. Most people who would refrain from torturing our soldiers because they consider torture to be uncivilized are likely to refrain from torturing Al-Qaeda operatives as well. The increased danger to our soldiers from making public statements condoning torture is dwarfed by advantages we gain from the effects of these statements on the people being interrogated. The threat of torture that is implied by such a public defense may reduce the number of cases when torture would actually have to be applied in order to extract the information we need. There are several good arguments against the use of torture and for keeping these discussions classified (as oppposed to public) but this is not one of them.

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seekingprometheus
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seagull:
quote:
It is hard to avoid the impression of "changing the subject" when there is more than one subject that people find of interest.
I'd agree.

I'd further agree that drawing parallels is an excellent and apropos tactic in discussion, as it often is the most effective way to re-frame complex issues simply and concisely.

And given the fact that this particular thread seems to have multiple distinct topics being discussed simultaneously (something I personally find quite interesting), I can understand the temptation to use a point made by another poster to segue to a separate issue--though I'd probably avoid it when possible since it does function to distract from the impact of the original point, and can be particularly irksome if the segue appears to take the form of twisting the original argument to fit to a separate issue.
quote:
A well formed rational argument stands on its own merits, it does not need my acknowledgement to have an impact.
Your acknowledgment of the validity of an argument is unnecessary, but when you respond to an argument being made in a discursive format without addressing the impact, such a criticism aptly applies to what you've said as a response.

People post what they will here for whatever motives they may have. Many posters involve themselves in discussions when it is clear that they are not remotely following the meaning of the arguments others make. Perhaps they're not even really reading other posts, but simply wish to see their opinions published in the ether, in a thread that piques their interest. The discursive nature of the forum assures that their opinions will be subject to intense criticism, regardless of what they felt they were signing up for.
quote:
For example, I agree that talltwin's post about Clinton's impeachment was rational and insightful. I also think it was right on point, but I still found it irrelevant to what I care about so rather than distract this thread I started another one about the process of Clinton's impeachment. I believe that what my Arab friends have come to call "the Monica Lewinsky bombing of Iraq" caused more damage to the credibility of the US military than any of the issues that were actually discussed in the impeachment process itself. The message that the US military is used against foreign countries for "wag the dog" purposes and regardless of what the facts on the ground are was all too clear. I am not saying that it justifies what Cheney did. What I am saying is that by the time Bush/Cheney got around to it the US had no international credibility left to be destroyed by their actions.

I considered posting that I was disappointed with both parties for the way they handled the clinton impeachment and the weapons inspectors and the UN Sanctions, but decided not to do it. Considering the realistic need to "string up a politician as a scapegoat" and the fact that my expectations from politicians were very low to begin with saying that I was disappointed would have been disingenuous and irrelevant to the discussion so I chose to stay quiet.

Later, when you made that exquisite reference to being caught with the pants down, it gave me an opportunity to concisely express how I felt about arguments like "someone on my team did it, and I won't admit my team is capable of doing something wrong" in a context that is relevant to the topic of this thread.

This is interesting, and provides appreciated stream-of-consciousness context for the desultory trend.
quote:
With regard to your specific argument that publicly defending torture undermines our ability to protest when our soldiers are tortured. I acknowledge the logic but I reject the implication that people should avoid publicly defending torture because of it.
Hmm. I'll observe that the weakened diplomatic position is only part of the harm caused by the decision to publicly defend this particular policy. On a broader level, the ability to attain a reasonable objective (in terms of the conflict to which this policy is specifically being applied) is fundamentally undermined by the public support of the policy.

That is: the problem we're trying to resolve here is clearly "terrorist tactics." Organizations are engaging in tactics that deviate from an "acceptable standard" of modes of action deemed appropriate to further political agendas. By targeting civilians, they are "breaking the rules," if you will.

The ability of these organizations to engage in such tactics is entirely contingent upon their ability to recruit individuals that can be convinced to engage in said tactics.

In order to resolve the problem, it is clearly important that the meme that there is an "acceptable standard" of behavior that can be agreed upon and kept by all parties be spread and reinforced among individuals who might be swayed to engage in the objectionable tactics.

(Whether or not any such standard actually can exist or be adhered to is moot--successfully convincing targeted populations through the use of effective propaganda will work just as well to resolve the problem).

The public defense of this policy fundamentally undermines our ability to resolve the problem of terrorism through such a tactic. It actually is working as anti-propaganda. In the minds of the target population, this public argument functions only to reinforce the idea that America doesn't abide by civilized rules either--that no such reasonable standard exists or needs be adhered to.

Having this public argument literally plays right into the objective of "terrorism." To show that "civilization" is a veneer that can, should, and will be dropped if sufficiently important objectives arise.
quote:
I believe that it is futile to protest in the first place. Most people who would refrain from torturing our soldiers because they consider torture to be uncivilized are likely to refrain from torturing Al-Qaeda operatives as well.
I'm not clear on what your meaning here.
quote:
The increased danger to our soldiers from making public statements condoning torture is dwarfed by advantages we gain from the effects of these statements on the people being interrogated. The threat of torture that is implied by such a public defense may reduce the number of cases when torture would actually have to be applied in order to extract the information we need.
First, this attitude seems awfully cavalier regarding the increased risk of being tortured you acknowledge is assumed by our soldiers as a result of this public argument.

Second, you need to provide further reasoning for your claim that this harm that you acknowledge is outweighed by the benefit you say "may" be derived from the threat implied by by public support of torture.

Third, your position doesn't seem to grasp the full extent of the harm being done by this public defense of the policy.

[ November 20, 2009, 02:32 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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JW:
quote:
So what?
I should think the matter would be apparent.
quote:
The debate as I see it is:
1) Do you think water boarding is torture?
I think so, others think otherwise, largely based on whether or not they lump psychological torture and physical torture together.

2) Should we make use of torture in extreme circumstances?
I think yes. Indeed we always have.

I'm glad to see an argument that doesn't rely on obfuscating the definition of "torture." I appreciate the integrity it shows, and agree that the second question is relevant, and rational arguments can be made for affirmative and negative responses.

But here:
quote:
So your argument seems to be we should follow the letter of the law.
...you're not following my argument.

My argument is rather that it is expedient to maintain the idea that a civilized standard can and should be upheld--whether or not individuals believe it.

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seagull
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To clarify what I meant by:
quote:
people who would refrain from torturing our soldiers because they consider torture to be uncivilized are likely to refrain from torturing Al-Qaeda operatives as well.
The danger that such people would start torturing our soldiers because the US publicly supports torture is small. It might happen in a few cases but too few to be a significant consideration.

On the other hand, enemies who think that torturing our soldiers is acceptable will not stop using it even if the US publicly condemned every form of torture. Our soldiers and our generals need to be prepared for the possibility of torture. People who sign up to be soldiers are signing up to be tortured if they get caught and thinking otherwise is not realistic. Protesting it after the fact may be futile except to the extent that it can serve as a recruiting tool to get more people to sign up to fight for our side (and therefore risk being tortured themselves).

quote:
this attitude seems awfully cavalier regarding the increased risk of being tortured you acknowledge is assumed by our soldiers as a result of this public argument.
There is nothing cavalier about accepting a small increase in the risk of a soldier being tortured in return for a large decrease in the risk of civilians being killed. This is exactly what I signed up for when I was a soldier.

When torture is used as a last resort to extract information (as opposed to a confession) from a terrorist, kidnapper or enemy combatant that information can be used to save lives. The harm caused to the meme of "acceptable behavior" fades in comparison with the stronger meme that our society tries to "protect innocent civilian lives". I do not wish to belong to a society in which the priorities between those two memes are reversed.

You may want to consider how my last statement affects the ability of various versions of the "acceptable behavior" memes to spread before you accuse me of not grasping the full extent of my position.

quote:
The discursive nature of the forum assures that their opinions will be subject to intense criticism, regardless of what they felt they were signing up for.
I agree that this forum subjects opinions to "intense criticism, regardless of what [people] felt they were signing up for" and I think that point is too important to weaken it by assuming that it is the discursive nature that brings this about. As a matter of fact the discurive nature (in the meandering sense) also assures that some opinions will not be subjected to criticism (because they get drowned out by other topics). A critical response does more than argue (and/or agree with) with the opinion stated, it also steers the meandering thread to focus on the topic.

quote:
weakened diplomatic position is only part of the harm caused by the decision to publicly defend
We seem to be in agreement that: "There are several good arguments against the use of torture and for keeping these discussions classified (as oppposed to public)". I also note that we are steering the debate to the question of using torture in extreme circumstances rather than the "many more instances when torture is not justified but people do it anyway". This is fine with me, I just want to make the context clear.

quote:
Organizations are engaging in tactics that deviate from an "acceptable standard" of modes of action deemed appropriate to further political agendas. By targeting civilians, they are "breaking the rules," if you will.
These organizations are breaking OUR rules. If we want to stop them from doing so, we must first recognize that they can have their own set of rules and that they are under no obligation to accept our rules. Even if we manage to spread the "acceptable standard of behavior" meme to 95% of the population, there will still be 5% that do not accept it and they would be entitled to operate outside of our rules. Our society must be able to survive in the face of terrorist attacks from those who do not accept our rules. A society that can not survive under those conditions does not deserve to survive.

I believe that OUR rules should be ones that can survive in the face of terrorism. If in order to survive we need to accept torture in extreme circumstances than our rules should reflect that reality. There are many cases when we do not need to accept torture and in those cases my statement would be moot. For people who take the position that torture is never justified, my statement will always be moot. But, even when we disagree on when we "need to accept torture" we can still agree that the hypothetical statement as I phrased it above is true. Are you willing to accept that premise?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The harm caused to the meme of "acceptable behavior" fades in comparison with the stronger meme that our society tries to "protect innocent civilian lives". I do not wish to belong to a society in which the priorities between those two memes are reversed.
Why? Bear in mind, of course, that refusing to torture suspected terrorists may also fall right into the category of "protecting innocent civilian lives."
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kenmeer livermaile
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Not to mention the false dichotomy between 'acceptable behavior' and 'protect innocent civilian lives' (or 'refuse to torture').
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seagull
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Tom, stop baiting, I know you can do better than that cheap diversion.

If anyone actually believes that "refusing to torture suspected terrorists" can fall under the category of protecting lives, I'd like to see that explained rationally.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by seagull:
Tom, stop baiting, I know you can do better than that cheap diversion.

If anyone actually believes that "refusing to torture suspected terrorists" can fall under the category of protecting lives, I'd like to see that explained rationally.

Any number of ways, the most simple being not torturing a suspected terrorist who turns out to be completely innocent.
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seekingprometheus
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quote:
If anyone actually believes that "refusing to torture suspected terrorists" can fall under the category of protecting lives, I'd like to see that explained rationally.
The explanation has already been provided in this thread.

The fact that America "tortures" is a tremendously powerful selling point for those individuals who are being targeted for recruitment by terrorist organizations.

"America publicly declares its support of torture" --> "more people who otherwise would not take up arms against America become convinced of the necessity of fighting the torturing monster"--> "more people die."

vs.

"America maintains image of civil, rules-abiding culture " --> "less successful recruitment of individuals who engage in terrorist activity" --> "less people die."

I tend to believe that what impedes people from understanding this easily understood train of logic is a failure to understand the perspective of the "terrorists."

They're actually very similar to the humans in your family and community, they just experience extremely different circumstances. So you may have to stretch your imagination little. [Wink]

And just like with your own children, it's more effective to try to understand the root causes of their bad behavior and deal with those causes than it is to simply react to the bad behavior.

It may be simpler and more incitefully provocative to label the enemy an "evil" that must be "fought," but it's frequently more effective to understand the "enemy" and tweak the system with such an understanding.
quote:
The harm caused to the meme of "acceptable behavior" fades in comparison with the stronger meme that our society tries to "protect innocent civilian lives"
You still demonstrate no understanding of the implications of the successful dissemination of this meme.

You seem to think that these are mutually exclusive memes that require prioritization.

They're not. "Protect innocent civilian lives" is a subset of the categorically broader "acceptable standard" of behavior.
quote:
You may want to consider how my last statement affects the ability of various versions of the "acceptable behavior" memes to spread before you accuse me of not grasping the full extent of my position.
I won't accuse you of misunderstanding the extent of your position. (And lest you think I'm "missing" the "difficult" point here, I understand that you're saying that the "good guys" need to keep their lives in order for acceptable behavior meme to spread). I think the logic of your position and what you think is entailed by the set of responses you advocate is easily graspable, and as I've seen you demonstrate considerable intelligence and erudition, I believe that you have explored the implications of your position quite thoroughly and effectively. What I think you don't grasp is the position I'm advocating--regarding which you've demonstrated very little understanding.

[ November 21, 2009, 12:53 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
I'm not clear on what your meaning here.
Hmm. I would say this construction warrants suspicion of the author's claims that he is American. [foreign accent]Whoever is writing this sentence clearly not speaking English as his first language is.[foreign accent]

I wish I could claim that I was being purposefully ironic.

[Big Grin]

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seekingprometheus
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oz:

I've back-read this thread multiple times now, and I laugh at "Godel" every time.

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
Originally posted by seagull:
If anyone actually believes that "refusing to torture suspected terrorists" can fall under the category of protecting lives, I'd like to see that explained rationally.

It's been explained repeatedly already.

a) Some of the suspected terrorists are innocent. So you're not protecting *their* lives when you're torturing them to death.

b) The more you utilize torture, the more you help convince people that the United States are an evil empire that must be fought.

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cherrypoptart
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Didn't al-Qaeda saw off people's heads and post it on the internet?

How are their ranks being swelled because of the torture issue?

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Aris Katsaris
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Cherry, I'm not sure what you are asking.

Are you asking why Muslim potential recruits might care more about the treatment of fellow Muslims rather than that of Americans?

I'm guessing for the exact same reason that many Americans care more about the rights of American citizens than that of foreigners.

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cherrypoptart
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Yes, I think that was the point I was getting at. So if we waterboard their guys they will join up to fight us, and if they saw the heads off of our guys and non-Muslim civilians and post it to the internet they just shrug their shoulders and couldn't care less. Yes, that about sums it up I think. I was just making sure that was clear is all.
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PSRT
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Cherry, most interrogators who've talked about torture also tell us that torturing people produces false leads, it does not get us real evidence. If we're in a ticking time bomb scenario (for example) torturing someone to find out where the bomb is and how to defuse it is less likely to get us the correct information, making it more likely that the bomb goes off, meaning more people die.

That is a practical, immediate, concern that does not get into the ethics of torture and the international politics of torture. Its simply bad business for crime prevention.

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
Originally posted by cherrypoptart:
So if we waterboard their guys they will join up to fight us, and if they saw the heads off of our guys and non-Muslim civilians and post it to the internet they just shrug their shoulders and couldn't care less.

It's the same with Americans: If Al Qaeda kills Americans then Americans join the army to go fight Muslims, but if Americans torture Muslims to death, you just shrug your shoulders and couldn't care less.

There's not a single monolithic "they", cherry. Many Americans don't give a damn about the treatment of Muslims. Many Muslims don't give a damn about the treatment of Americans. That's a given.

But some do care.

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kenmeer livermaile
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My impression is that beheadings and torture intrigue cherry. Sort of a pulp fetish or something?
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cherrypoptart
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I'm afraid to click on that link.
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seagull
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SeekingProm:
quote:
I understand that you're saying that the "good guys" need to keep their lives in order for acceptable behavior meme to spread
That is not what I was trying to say. It is true that ""good guys" need to keep their lives in order for [the] acceptable behavior meme to SURVIVE" but that was NOT my point. My point is that before you try to spread a meme to other cultures you might want to try and phrase it in such a way that it could at least spread to people like CherryPopTart and me.

Your quote includes a reference to "my last statement" but omits that statement itself so I would like to repeat (and slightly rephrase) it for clarity:

I do not wish to belong to a society in which categorical "objection to torture under ANY circumstances" would prevent the police from saving the lives of kidnap victims:

Cherrypoptart (third page of this thread):
quote:
But let me understand this. So if a perp picks up the ransom money and then refuses to tell where the child he kidnapped is, the police, after failing to persuade him and unable to locate the victim, have to just wait and let the child die alone of thirst?

Maybe never even find the body and never successfully prosecute the kidnapper, setting him free to try, try again?

Okay. That's fine I guess. As long as we have that clear.

And as long as we have that clear, don't expect me (and many others who feel like me) to subscribe to your version of what constitutes "acceptable behavior". I would willingly accept a meme of acceptable behavior that places restrictions on torture to make sure that it is used:
  • only as a last resort
  • to extract verifiable information that is needed to save lives
  • not used to extract confessions
But I make no pretenses to myself or others that accepting this meme will significantly reduce the number of terrorists who want to kill me. If you want a public categorical condemnation of torture you can count me out. If you can't even convince me to join your extreme version of this anti-torture meme, what makes you think you could ever convince the terrorists to accept it.

Pyrtolin:
quote:
not torturing a suspected terrorist who turns out to be completely innocent
I was not surprised to see this kind of baiting from Tom or Aris. Equating torture with death in order to win an argument does not even look rational, instead it exposes the agenda of the person making that claim. Since Pyrtolin has made rational arguments on this thread, I am wondering if I am missing something.

I accept the premises that:
quote:
The more you utilize torture, the more you help convince people that the United States are an evil empire that must be fought.
I am even willing to concede that a few people might die at the hands of terrorists recruited in this way, but I fail to follow the logic that leads you to think that adopting a public ban on all forms of torture would help with the goal of having "less pepople die". Innocent people will still die at the hands of terrorists who will simply be recruited based on our other percieved abuses. Meanwhile, innocent kidnap victims will continue to die and more of them will die if the credible threat of torture is removed from the arsenal of the interrogators.

quote:
I tend to believe that what impedes people from understanding this easily understood train of logic is a failure to understand the perspective of the "terrorists."
Ooooh, what a mouthful ...
I can not follow your so called "easily understood train of logic" and that has nothing to do with understanding the perspective of our enemies. Using the derogatory word "terrorist" to describe your enemy is not conducive to understanding their perspective. I challenge you to try and "stretch your imagination a little" and to consider the possibility that their different experience may not be what you imagined it to be. Have you ever considered the possibility that our enemies' experience is more like that imagined by Lisa Liel in Peace, as opposed to Peace"?

All of us say that we want peace but tragically, it means very different things to different cultures:
Peace in English implies lack of conflict.
Salaam in Arabic implies submission.
Shalom in Hebrew implies harmony.
Thinking that you can spread your "acceptable behavior" meme to a people from a different culture simply by imagining that they are "just like you" is not just arrogant, it is unrealistic and can lead to tragic consequences. [Frown]

quote:
it's frequently more effective to understand the "enemy" and tweak the system with such an understanding
Exactly.
Which is why I think it is important to try and really understand them rather than thinking of them as children and imagining that you could spread any version of our "acceptable behavior" memes to them.

quote:
You seem to think that these are mutually exclusive memes that require prioritization.
I do not think they are mutually exclusive, in fact I like to have some version of "acceptable behavior" meme in my own belief system. I do think that WHEN the two memes come into conflict (as in Cherry's example of intrrogating the kidnapper) prioritization is required.

[ November 21, 2009, 12:33 PM: Message edited by: seagull ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I would willingly accept a meme of acceptable behavior that places restrictions on torture to make sure that it is used:

only as a last resort
to extract verifiable information that is needed to save lives
not used to extract confessions

I have repeatedly said that I would be willing to accept torture in the event that the torturer had to spend life in prison.

If it's important enough to torture someone, it's important enough for the torturer to voluntarily give up his freedom.

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
Meanwhile, innocent kidnap victims will continue to die and more of them will die if the credible threat of torture is removed from the arsenal of the interrogators.
Are you describing truth or fiction here?

Do you have real-life examples of the use of torture saving the lives of kidnap victims?

quote:
I would willingly accept a meme of acceptable behavior that places restrictions on torture to make sure that it is used:

only as a last resort
to extract verifiable information that is needed to save lives
not used to extract confessions

You also have to tell us HOW you'll ensure that these criteria will be strictly followed -- or your criteria sound nice but will in practice be meaningless.

I'm with Tom Davidson in this. If it's important enough to torture, it's important enough for the torturer to volunteer giving up a significant portion of his life as well.

I don't necessarily say his whole life, but let's say at least a mandatory 10 years in prison for every person tortured.

I find that such would prevent frivolous usage of torture.

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seagull
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quote:
If it's important enough to torture someone, it's important enough for the torturer to voluntarily give up his freedom.
I agree (Thanks Tom).

This is a "meme of acceptable behavior" that I suppprt. It addresses both my abhorrance of torture and my willingness to accept the fact that in some rare cases in it necessary.

I am still concerned about how such a policy would be enforced. If the prison term is too short, the policy would not be effective. If the prison term is too long it would discorage reporting of torture and leave the torture in the hands of the unscrupulus people who enjoy it.

I don't have an answer to that condundrum but I still think that this is a good starting point.

[ November 21, 2009, 01:29 PM: Message edited by: seagull ]

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PSRT
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quote:
It addresses both my abhorrance of torture and my willingness to accept the fact that in some rare cases in it necessary.
I am not sure where there are any cases where torture will produce better information faster than conventional interrogation techniques, meaning that I am not sure there are any cases where torture is necessary. In fact, I think when we think it is necessary, torturing people hurts us.
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seagull
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PSRT, I am intrigued and fascinated by your argument because I would love to be convinced that it is true.

Can you present an informed explanation of how "conventional interrogation methods" would be used to make the kidnapper in Cherry's example provide the information about where the kidnapped boy was in a timely manner?

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PSRT
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What my statement relies on is the reports of people who have been involved in investigations which rely on information gathered from people who have been tortured, from a variety of countries and a variety of time periods. The tendency seems to be for people subjected to torture to tell their torturer what they THINK the torturer wants to know, whether it is true or not. This means that information gathered from tortured people is highly unreliable, but because you have any information, as an investigator, you have to follow up on it, which ends up mostly wasting the time of the investigator. Even when we have a person that we know has information, the tendency, as reported by the torturers, is for the torturee to provide whatever information he thinks will end the torture the fastest, which is usually not the information the torturer wants.

In other words, you can get accidentally lucky with torture and get information that helps the investigation quickly, but most of the time, you'll end up following bad leads until the "Ticking time bomb," has detonated.

Again, I'm relying on what I've read from times and places where torture has been engaged in. I'm not relying on logic, or hard evidence. The lack of real evidence bothers me, but on the other hand, how the heck would you gather evidence in a systematic fashion about the results of torture?

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kenmeer livermaile
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"how the heck would you gather evidence in a systematic fashion about the results of torture?"

Torture 'em.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
If it's important enough to torture someone, it's important enough for the torturer to voluntarily give up his freedom.
I can almost hear the 24 soundtrack theme starting up as you recite that mantra. The trouble is, Jack Bauer's become the inspiration for folks that don't deal with ticking time bombs. Cops that will do whatever it takes to bust a pimp, a drug dealer, or whatever.

It's one thing to say, I'm willing to go to jail in order to save a million lives. But what if the torture doesn't pan out? Worse yet, what if the guy's innocent? You can't make yourself a public martyr, since you broke the rules just to come out looking like a fool. And as a government employee, you've been trained from day one to cover your ass. Innocent tortured boy is going down a manhole.

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
"The lack of real evidence bothers me, but on the other hand, how the heck would you gather evidence in a systematic fashion about the results of torture?"
The problem is that the supporters of torture are usually also the ones that want to classify everything there is about torture.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
You can't make yourself a public martyr, since you broke the rules just to come out looking like a fool. And as a government employee, you've been trained from day one to cover your ass. Innocent tortured boy is going down a manhole.
Which is, of course, why every torture should be reviewed by a panel. Because, of course, a panel completely prevents that sort of abuse, right? [Wink]
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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
I can almost hear the 24 soundtrack theme starting up as you recite that mantra. The trouble is, Jack Bauer's become the inspiration for folks that don't deal with ticking time bombs. Cops that will do whatever it takes to bust a pimp, a drug dealer, or whatever.
I'm hoping that 10 years mandatory imprisonment will make them reconsider.

quote:
It's one thing to say, I'm willing to go to jail in order to save a million lives.But what if the torture doesn't pan out? Worse yet, what if the guy's innocent? You can't make yourself a public martyr, since you broke the rules just to come out looking like a fool. And as a government employee, you've been trained from day one to cover your ass. Innocent tortured boy is going down a manhole.
Which is already what is happening, even without the need for a million lives being at stake.

I'll be happier if torture ends up restricted to nuclear-bomb ticking bomb scenarios rather than its current justification of "let's torture anyone who may know anything about anyone who may know anything about anyone."

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kenmeer livermaile
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I like the way that Aris wields his scalpel.
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velcro
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Two points of fact:

1) Several posters have said that you can not prove a negative, in regards to the lack of evidence to support Cheney's allegations. This is false, of course you can prove a negative. If I say "I have three ears", and I only have two, you have proven a negative (assuming you believe in objective truth enough to function in the real world).

Cheney said -there exists classified documentation about nuclear weapons in Iraq that is more definitive than what has been released-. The set of classified documentation is finite. If Cheney saw it, the CIA has it. The CIA sent ALL the relevant data, 19 volumes, which were reviewed by qualified people. Based on the best efforts by everyone involved, the documentation does not exist, except in Dick Cheney's mind.

Is it possible that everyone just missed the documentation, and Cheney inexplicably refrained from pointing it out? Yes, just as it is possible that you didn't notice the third ear on my forehead, and I didn't point to it to prove my assertion. I think the level of proof we use for real life would reject those remote possibilities.

2) Quinnalus wrote
quote:
Are you suggesting that this mob was organized by the republican party?
Umm, yes.
quote:
But Strayer, it turns out, is a top aide to New Mexico's Republican Congresswoman, Heather Wilson, and was one of hundreds of paid G.O.P. crusaders who descended on South Florida last Wednesday to protest the state's recounts. .
As far as objective truth,

Quinnalus wote
quote:
On a site that demands statistics, support and proof... ultimately we all interpret that information based on a background forwhich we can provide no support.
Yes, but when someone "interprets" 2+2=4 to be false, then all the statistics, support and proof are useless. Any attempt to have a discussion based on facts and reasoning fails, because they "interpret" up to mean down, and black to mean white. It is, to borrow a phrase, like talking to the dining room table.

Seagull says
quote:
2+2=4 is not an "Objective truth".

I do not trust any of the people you refer to in 2a.

Politicians lie

I understand in a philosophical sense, 2 clouds plus 2 clouds does not equal 4 clouds. But in the reality-based community, is is universally accepted that the mathematical concept of 2+2=4 is true, under all conditions, and at all times. I'd like to think that posters here are dealing with the real world, where if I owe you $40, I can pay with two $20 bills and you won't ask for more because I only gave you one "cloud" of bills.

Your tangent about objective truth simply provides you with a way to deny any hard, reality-based evidence that conflicts with your ideology.

You state that you don't trust any of the people who are providing the evidence that conflicts with your ideology. You have provided no basis for that mistrust, other than your belief that all politicians lie, or something like that. Do you even know who the people in 2a are? Porter Goss, Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee at the time, former CIA Agent, who was later appointed head of the CIA by G. W. Bush, wrote the letter. Why do you not trust him? He had zero incentive to hide documentation that would exonerate Cheney. He even had incentive to make something up, if you think he is untrustworthy.

So how exactly does someone prove something to you, Seagull? If I say that lead in gasoline is harmful, as proven by studies, you can just claim the math involved is not objective truth. Or regarding the dozens (hundreds?) of independent studies by a broad range of groups all with the same conclusions, you can just say they were all done by people you "don't trust".

You don't believe universally accepted facts like 2+2=4. Your justification for denying bipartisan findings of fact is that you "don't trust" them, with no explanation. Then you pop out this corker:
quote:
One of the main reasons I hang out on this forum is that reading through a thread like this and applying critical thinking to quotes from both sides helps me become more informed.
Please tell us, how do you decide to trust the quotes? Politicians are out. Anyone using math is out. That leaves ... Fox News?

Finally, I said

quote:
Given ironclad facts and reasoning, you refuse to acknowledge that an idea you had may be wrong.
You conveniently left out the initial clause in your retort.

If you can descend to the reality-based world for a moment, provide evidence to demonstrate when I refused to acknowledge that an idea I had may be wrong, when confronted with facts. I pointed out facts, with sources to back them up. I have not seen hard facts, backed up with sources, to change my mind on most of my points. I have seen hand-waving and false facts and bad logic, which does not change my mind. I agreed that Clinton did something wrong, but my opinion was that it did not merit the time and resources spent on the impeachment.

I come to Ornery to learn. I do not come here to win. But when I see someone break the rules of logic to win, or dance around questions to win, or deny evidence for no reason to win, or just plain make stuff up to win, I call them on it. I don't often try to prove I am right. Most of my effort goes into demonstrating, with sourced facts, that the falsehoods and misleading reasoning that some people post are provably wrong.

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