Thursday, May 17, 2007

Torture -- Does it work or Does it make things worse?

In the recent GOP debate, with the exception of John McCain, most of the candidates said something to the effect that something akin to torture was okay. They didn't say "torture" was okay, but if you give people carte blanche you will end up using methods that are the same thing, even if we don't use the words. Use whatever it takes -- well where do we draw the line? Is water-boarding okay? What about humiliation? And ultimately is the information gathered useful? Because most interrogations are classified, it's hard for any of us to know for sure.

Two retired Marine Generals, one a former Commandant of the Corp and the other head of Central Command say no, it doesn't work and in fact inflames the situation. But why do we find it attractive? Well the generals suggest, it's fear. When we let fear drive us we will make choices that might not be appropriate. They broach their opinions in a Washington Post op-ed piece. These two men, Charles Krulak and Joseph Hoar, should know something about what they speak. They speak not from a religious perspective, but from a military one. They understand the issues and call into question some of the decisions made recently and the attitudes that undergird them.
They write:

We have served in combat; we understand the reality of fear and the havoc it can wreak if left unchecked or fostered. Fear breeds panic, and it can lead people and nations to act in ways inconsistent with their character.

I wonder what you think about what they write in this column?

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