From Daily Kos: What We Know So Far: A Torture Timeline (Updated).
Obama doesn’t care about pursuing real torture:
“The hostages argue that Iran supported their confinement and abuse, with visits from government officials, stays in government prisons and buildings and threats of trial in Iranian courts. The lawsuit says current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of their interrogators.
The lawsuit says the hostages were tortured, beaten sometimes until they lost consciousness and kept in fear of their lives, at times even lined up in front of marksmen locking their guns. It says they were imprisoned without adequate food, clothing or medical care, blindfolded with their hands tied, interrogated for hours at a time and kept in isolation for months at a time.”
This is the same Ahmadinejihad that Obama wants to make nice with. Just like he wants to make nice with Hugo Chavez and Castro. Just like he wants to make nice with Saudi royal family (just google “torture saudi arabia” and see what comes up).
Prosecutions of Bush/Cheney will never happen unless Obama wants to ‘splain his reasons for spooning with *real* mass murders and torturers.
oooh, Goose has a completely irrelevant issue to distract us from the George W. Bush administration’s criminal misdeeds:
A thirty-year old lawsuit that should have been resolved through the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal twenty-some years ago.
… a completely irrelevant issue…
According to the CIA World Factbook, the median age for Iranians is 27 years old. That is, over half of their current population was born after their revolution dismantled SAVAK:
In 1978 the deepening opposition to the Shah errupted in widespread demonstrations and rioting. SAVAK and the military responded with widespread repression that killed thousands of people. Recognizing that even this level of violence had failed to crush the rebellion, the Shah abdicated the Peacock Throne and departed Iran on 16 January 1979. Despite decades of pervasive surveillance by SAVAK, working closely with CIA, the extent of public opposition to the Shah, and his sudden departure, came as a considerable suprise to the US intelligence community and national leadership. As late as September 28, 1978 the US Defense Intelligence Agency reported that the shah “is expected to remain actively in power over the next ten years.”
You wonder why Iran remains a “hard target”?
You reap what you sow. Sow the wind….
it never occurred to me to wonder why Iran remains a “hard target”.
…could you explain what you mean?
…could you explain what you mean?
As long as the world’s industries continue to demand oil, the Mideast and the Persian Gulf will remain as a vital geostrategic region for the United States, and its friends and partners around the world. This is obvious.
So, it is in the interests of the United States to have sympathetic people in that region to enlighten our intelligence and help our democratically-elected leaders see their way to wisdom.
It’s hard to see when your eyes sting with dust from the whirlwind.
there’s an obvious hole in your logic:
As long as the world’s industries continue to demand oil, the Mideast and the Persian Gulf will remain as a vital geostrategic region for the United States
There’s big implicit assumption here: That the Mideast and Persian Gulf will be able to meet the world’s demand for oil. Or even the needs of the United States, and its friends and partners around the world.
If that assumption is incorrect, then far from being a vital “geostrategic” region, focusing our nation’s resources on controlling the Mideast and Persian gulf will prove to be a costly strategic blunder.
You might want to read Matthew Simmons’ book: Twilight in the desert : the coming Saudi oil shock and the world economy.
To tie this discussion back to the topic at hand:
Abandoning our moral principles for what has proved to be very costly and very ephemeral control of Iraq, and Afghanistan has been a costly strategic blunder entirely independent of whether Middle Eastern oil could sustain our energy needs.
There’s an obvious hole in your logic as well:
“There’s big implicit assumption here: That the Mideast and Persian Gulf will be able to meet the world’s demand for oil. Or even the needs of the United States, and its friends and partners around the world.”
The assumption that is required in your statement, implicit in your refernce to Simmons, is the idea of Peak Oil, as Simmons is one of the high priests of that idea. Now it may or may not be that Peak Oil is true, but for your statement to be true, one must assume that it is.
To be fair, I think there’s abundant evidence in both directions – leading to the conclusion that we just don’t know yet – but if one looks historically at claims about one resource or another, in nearly every case (I say “nearly” but I don’t know off hand of one that was an exception), predictions about a coming lack of X have turned out to not only be false, but REALLY false.
But, to tie this discussion back to the topic at hand:
“Abandoning our moral principles” is not exclusively the idea of doing bad things, making us as bad as “they” are. Exercising our moral principles can and should include such things as preventing bad people from doing bad things, even if it means doing some bad things ourselves for the greater good. I know, it’s a slippery slope, blah, blah, blah. But if the biggest kid on the world’s block refuses to keep some sense of order, and most of the other kids do the same (look at Europe in regards to Kosovo, for but one example), then it is inevitable that the meanest bullies on the block will take as much as they can. We can justify ourselves to ourselves by noting that we never descended to their level, but it won’t help the innocent dead anymore than it’s helped anybody else who died while we stood by on our pedistal of morality.
This is NOT to say we’ve been doing this all right since the get go, BUT I think it is dangerous and naive beyond measure to think that being Mr. Rogers while all about us are dying, just so we can point out that our cardigan actually has no blood on it, is moral in any way.
Zed (for Zorglub?),
Let’s call Peak Oil a theory rather than an ‘idea’, because it has empirical evidence to back it up. If you have a theoretical explanation for why the U.S. doesn’t produce as much oil as it did in the ’60s, let’s hear it. I don’t consider the idea (implicit in your counter-argument) that the Middle East has bottomless oil wells to be a valid theory.
Also, if you think that Peak Oil is about predicting a ‘coming lack of’ Oil, then you clearly don’t understand Peak Oil theory.
With regards to torture and the abandonment of our moral principles, I find your argument wholly unconvincing. From a purely strategic perspective, the U.S. has a bigger, better equipped, more sophisticated military than any other combination of countries in the world, much less the capabilities of paramilitary groups like Al Quaeda . There should be no need for us to abandon our laws and our principles to fight against such groups. I question the competency of anyone who argues otherwise.
That said, even with it’s million men and women, our military is dwarfed by the civilian population of the countries that we have invaded. The only way we can keep control of those countries is with the tacit acceptance of that civilian population. Losing the moral advantage of the justness of our cause, of being just and strict with our principles in how we treat those we have captured is frighteningly incompetent stupidity. Napoleon knew what he was talking about when he observed that “In war, moral factors account for three quarters of the whole; relative material strength accounts for only one quarter.”
“The only way we can keep control of those countries is with the tacit acceptance of that civilian population. Losing the moral advantage of the justness of our cause, of being just and strict with our principles in how we treat those we have captured is frighteningly incompetent stupidity.”
Please elaborate, citing to historical precedent in the Middle East, where Western “principles” and “moral advantages” lead to popular respect from the Muslim “street.” The Napoleon reference is irrelevant of course. I think if you try, you will find that the British and particularly Churchill have some interesting things to say about how to gain the advantage in that part of the world. Did Clinton fail to apply our morality to the fine peoples of the Middle East, is that why we were attacked on 9/11? So please, since you are such a “competent” authority on the region, enlighten us. Show us where Western Judeo-Christian values are flourishing in the Middle East. You could start by naming one Muslim country where Jews and Christians are not persecuted–I’d find that very interesting.
with respect for your request for historical precedent, since you mention Churchill, you might want to read up on FDR’s and Churchill’s meeting with Ibn Saud in 1945:
With regards to “Judeo-Christian values flourishing” in the Middle East, My wife and I have a friend from Syria who has told her that the way that Syria deals with having so many religious groups with different holy days is that everybody get’s everybody’s holy days as official holidays from work. This friend, as it happens, is not Muslim, but Orthodox Christian.
Now Middle Eastern friends and a bit of historical knowledge in no way make me an expert on the Middle East, but I do think it’s a more complicated place than the cartoon version you seem to believe in.
Peak oil is theory as is its opposite (though technically that makes neither a theory in the scientific sense) as both ideas do have empirical evidence to back them. Like global warming, climate change, or whatever we’re calling it this week, lots of reasonable people still disagree on interpretation of what is known – whatever the truth might be. If peak oil is anything other than the claim that our use of oil cannot be maintained as stocks deplete, then yes, I apparently do NOT understand peak oil – but since I don’t really care about that idea anyway for the purposes of this argument…
As to your idea that the strength of our impressive military should help us keep the moral high-ground, you act as if our military is able to act unconstrained! I would argue, and perhaps you agree, that our military forces are the finest in the world, and I would further assert, based on the evidence of past conflicts, that even nations using the most advanced other-bloc hardware, would not be able to maintain against our military and its technology. (certainly, one of the most valued lessons of the first Gulf War was that former Soviet technology, it all its glory, was simply no match at all for our own). I truely think that we have technology that is the most advanced the world has ever seen and way ahead of all rivals.
That said, I think it is obvious that if we were actually USING that military might that we would be long gone from our current conflicts. We are constrained by political requirements from using the technology that gives us the edge. It doesn’t matter how accurate our bombing can be, if we can’t drop the bomb in the first place because the enemy has placed their targets on mosques, hospitals, or schools. Effectively, because of constraints, we do not have the most effective military on the planet, and we do not therefore have such an edge that we can complacently see our enemies as children. Moral good, in this case, constrains us, not military ability, so you cannpt equate military superiority with anything.
Whatever you might think of what we are doing (and it might surprise you to know that I don’t claim we are doing the right thing either), it is clear from history that Good cannot stand by, citing moral superiority. These are not people making some sort of valid argument that must be heard. Capturing civilians and sawing their heads off in front of a camera to inspire others to do the same is nothing but barbarity. Blowing up mosques and people to glorify your cause, while saying that we’ve somehow committed some mortal sin if we, even accidently, do the same, is just propagandistic showmanship. No moral high-ground will ever serve as counter example to that, any more than the 99%+ of our population that doesn’t murder somehow sways those who do.
There comes a time, and not everybody agrees or likes it, when Good, in the name of Good, must step in and use force to eliminate Evil. Just as we did in WWII, and just as we should have in time to keep 150 million from dying under the various Communist/Socialist governments over the last 100 years. Our moral imperitive is not to be good at all costs, but to make sure that Good survives, that Good still exists, and that Evil does not.
I do not, and never would, make the argument that we should go all out and turn our enemy’s lands into a giant parking lot, for the sake of the future. We’ll leave that sort of behavior to the Communists and despots. But your apparent prescription of claiming moral superiority, while simultaneously refusing to commit to actual war, on its own terms, is a recipe for disaster. Some effort must be made to find a reasonable middle ground that combines our respect for human life generally, and our recognition that not all human life is worthy of that respect.
As to your civilian argument, noted by falafel, what can one even say to such nonsense? So under Saddam Hussein, the civilian population of Iraq apparently approved of his goveroning style? All those elections held by despots where 100% of votors approve of re-electing them is because of the actual respect of the populace? C’mon. It’s because in any population 90% of the people are just trying to get by – whoever is in charge, while 5% is battling the final 5% for superiority. Civilian populations have always just gone along with however things are. That they approve or disapprove of anyting anybody does is just plain irrelevant. Or are you suggesting that currently they approve of suicide bombings, the murder of civilians for propaganda, and the widespread use of slavery and oppression in the muslem world – and if we could just act moral enough, they’d see things our way and approve of us instead. Sorry, that just doesn’t pass the laugh test!
“As to your idea that the strength of our impressive military should help us keep the moral high-ground”
You have that 180 degrees backwards. Without the moral high-ground, what’s most impressive about our military is its absurdly high costs.
“Capturing civilians and sawing their heads off in front of a camera to inspire others to do the same is nothing but barbarity.”
Change the context slightly, and you’ve just described Abu Graib. You cannot justify the policies that led to Abu Graib by citing morally equivalent acts by your opponents and label yours as ‘Good’ and theirs as ‘Evil’.
Our moral imperitive is not to be good at all costs, but to make sure that Good survives, that Good still exists, and that Evil does not.
If you are Christian, your moral imperative is to be Good in the face of Evil, to the point of martyrdom if need be. I am not aware of any moral framework that purports that Good can eradicate Evil, still less do so via evil acts.
Civilian populations have always just gone along with however things are. That they approve or disapprove of anyting anybody does is just plain irrelevant.
Cynical, a-historical, and fundamentally anti-democratic claptrap.
“Now Middle Eastern friends and a bit of historical knowledge in no way make me an expert on the Middle East, but I do think it’s a more complicated place than the cartoon version you seem to believe in.”
Patrick, I am sorry but you are not competent to speak on the issue then if your sole basis of viewing the middle east is based on gossip from Syrian friend. I will show you the milder evidence against Syria:
It is really sad that as an American with so much information at your fingertips you choose to remain ignorant to the world around you. I am really amazed an American can be so clueless as to what is going on in the Middle East. You act high and mighty, then try rebut falafel with third hand evidence from a “friend of a friend.” Wow.
“If you are Christian, your moral imperative is to be Good in the face of Evil, to the point of martyrdom if need be.”
But Obama says America is not a Christian nation. Obama’s sworn duty is to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States of America against all threats, foreign and domestic. Guess what all the countries in the Middle East want to do with your Constitution patrick? They want to piss on it.
Obama is indeed sworn to defend and uphold the U.S. Constitution, but you are conflating the Presidential Oath of Office with the Military Officer’s Oath of Office.
If you make mistakes like that, you reveal yourself as a fool who can’t even follow his own advice about using the information at your finger tips.
Otherwise, I trust the testimony of someone who grew up in Syria as an Orthodox Christian more than I trust a Swiss-based Christian proselytization organization that I’ve never heard of before.
Heh great one Patrick.
That left a mark, for sure.
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