Saturday, September 23, 2006

Torture: for and against

- makes you sound "tough on terrorism"
- wins votes from cowards who crave any semblence of "security"
- might pay off if the ticking time-bomb scenario ever eventuates

- it's immoral
- impractical (leads to bad intel from false confessions, etc.)
- reduces your moral authority and international standing ('soft power')
- reduces co-operation from allies (who wants to share fallible intel that could lead to their own citizens being mistakenly tortured? Just ask Canada.)
- makes more people want to blow you up

Am I missing something? Compare this to a policy of randomly shooting Arabs (perhaps selected from a lottery). This would have comparable benefits -- just imagine a scenario where the would-be nuclear terrorist gets drawn from the lottery! Wouldn't that be so worth it! -- and you don't have to worry about the cost of false confessions. Boy, I could go a long way in the Republican party...

[On a more serious note, go read Obsidian Wings.]

1 comment:

  1. You left off one of the most important benefits: it allows you to get whatever "information" you want. Are you seeking to go to war against another country, and in search of "evidence" that they have dangerous and scary weapons programs so that you can attract support from people who care about things like evidence? Try torture.

    Also, the votes you can win aren't just from cowards, and most of those votes won't come from people who crave just any semblance of security. Many of the people you can win over consistently think that being tougher, harsher, or more violent is what we need to suceed, and that any restraint is weakness or softness that is going to undermine our cause. They only want the semblances of security that involve increasing ruthlessness.

    Also, there are reasons to be for torture besides these practical ones, such as: it just feels right (especially if you're one of those people who I described in the last paragraph).

    For reasons against torture, you're also missing a few, including:

    - makes fewer people want to turn in those who seem to be planning to blow you up
    - makes enemy combatants less willing to surrender
    - lowers the quality and moral conviction of your soldiers


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