About Rationally Speaking


Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bush vs. the Republicans

Occasionally even progressives can have a good time with the Bush administration. As is now well known, Bush's latest attempt to reinterpret the Geneva conventions (is there no limit to the ego and stupidity of this man?) has sparked an internal fight within the Republican party, something unlikely to do much good for the GOP in the upcoming November elections.

But what is really eye-opening (for the few left whose eyes ain't open yet) is that a President who has never been to active military duty is criticizing three men of his own party for being soft on terror, even though the three in question (and his own former Secretary of State, Colin Powell) have in fact been much more involved with military matters than Georgy boy himself. The offenders are John McCain (former prisoner of war), Lindsey Graham (military judge), and John Warner (former Secretary of the Navy and current Chairman of the Armed Services Committee). One has to wonder in amazement at the sheer audacity of W. and at his absolute conviction that he can do no wrong (then again, he has admitted in public that he regularly talks to God asking for personal advice on policy matters...).

The criticism of the latest Bush legislative attempt on terrorism, the one that would entail a “clarification” of the Geneva conventions, and which was prompted by the Supreme Court's rejection of Bush's inhumane and illegal way to handle terror suspects so far, builds on two crucial points. First, there is Powell's moral argument. In his letter to McCain he states that “the world is beginning to doubt our moral basis for the war against terrorism.” No kidding. That, of course, is the understatement of the year, but the point is clear: the US has always sold its foreign policies from a self-perceived high moral ground, and it has often succeeded in having most of the world see it that way (partly thanks to Hollywood's decades of extremely successful propaganda, of course). In some cases, that position was clearly justified (World War II, at least before the bombing of Dresden and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan), in others it was so preposterous that even Americans didn't buy it (Vietnam). Powell is doing too little too late (where was his sense of high morality when he lied at the United Nations about Iraq's WMDs?), but at the least now he's speaking up.

The second argument is McCain's, and it deals with the more practical consequences of re-interpreting the Geneva conventions (McCain has been, after all, acting very pragmatically while positioning himself for the '08 presidential race). He said that “weakening the Geneva protections is not only unnecessary, but would set an example to other countries, with less respect for basic human rights, that they could issue their own legislative reinterpretations.” To which Bush replied, in effect, bulls---.

The Decider-in-Chief has now gone so far as to claim that conservative, military men in his own party are undermining national security because they disagree with what he wants to do. This is delusion of grandeur that rivals that of Napoleon or Caesar (no, I'm not going to be drawn into a cheap comparison with Hitler...), and it could have lasting consequences for the next couple of generations of Americans. Unless the current generation finally wakes up and boots this horde of lunatics out of office in a little more than a month.

35 comments:

  1. This is the faith-based administration. I mean that literally, and not with regard to their religious beliefs, which I also find problematical.

    What I mean is that they believe whatever they believe with total faith, in the sense that no evidence will change their minds. That is why this is such an ideological administration.

    They are so convinced of their rightness, as if it was as unchangeable as their mass, that no change in circumstances (as in Iraq, for instance) nor evidence will change their minds. In fact, they seem to think (if that word can be credibly used in this context) that changing one's mind is a failure of some kind.

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  2. Funny you wrote this blog, today I was just talking about a similar subject with a friend (totally unaware of the Powell and McCain story).
    We were dicussing how it would even be logistically possible to win a war with terroist. The conclusion we both agreed to, was that it would only be logistically possible if Geneva Convention rules were all but left behind. I had mentioned that if we learned from history that sometimes what is considered moral in time of war must be changed in order to win. Such as happened in the Revolutionary war, where it was considered moral to line up in colums and fight in an orderly fashion. Then the American Indians taught us that much more ass could be kicked if you hid behind rocks while you faught. The malitias soon adopted these technique held off the British for months. This type of fighting was considered immoral by the Brits.
    I am not saying this to align myself with Bush, but I wonder how effective we can be in a war on terror while sticking to the Geneva convention rules. It really only works if both sides use it, and thats already not gonna happen. So the only reason to uphold the geneva rules is because we worry how the rest of the world views us. I wonder which is more important? how we are viewed or if we can actually fight terrorist. I Think we may have to stoop to their level unfortunately, or they may have already won.

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  3. Jim,

    first off, we are NOT in a war. Terrorists are not organized states with armies, hence there is no war going on. As the recent success of the British to halt a terrorist plot to bomb US-bound airplanes should have amply demonstrated, terrorism is a matter of police work, not the military (this is also true for other successful fights against terror, such as the Italians against the Red Brigades, or the Spanish against the Basque).

    Second, the Geneva convention is about sticking to moral standards. As a Christian, you should know that moral standards ought to be upheld regardless of the circumstances. Or are you telling me that because the Romans didn't play fair with Jesus, his apostoles were suddenly released from the injunction to offer the other cheek?

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  4. If you have a car that doesn't start because of a flat battery, it doesn't matter how much petrol you put in it, it won't start. You can swear black and blue that it is because of the petrol, steal all your neighbours petrol because you think more must be better to start the car, but unless you fix the actual cause of the problem, you are going nowhere.

    You can't win a war on terror without fixing the root cause of the terror. Terrorism is not a war based strategy. It is a strategy used to achieve an aim unrelated to conquering an entire country. Terrorism in general, and yes, even this terrorism, is related to achieving the general aim of getting an occupying force out of a country e.g. Saudi Arabia, Northern Ireland, Algeria etc. Terrorists do not want to "take over" America. And how could they, considering their numbers? How would they patrol the street? How would they form government? It is a ridiculous proposition. There is no war. They are not interested in our "freedoms". They want a specific aim. And understanding and dealing with that will produce a resolution. Not some misguided War On Terror.

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  5. Is War terrifying? If yes, then how can we logically have a War on Terror?

    Maybe we should have a War on War.

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  6. I'm overjoyed that the almost exclusively politically oriented Bush administration is failing even more. These next elections are going to be interesting, I suspect the GOP will have to nominate someone moderate- of course, almost anyone would appear moderate to reactionary Bush.

    Ann Coulter will probably call Colin Powell a liberal in her next book.

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  7. "Bush's inhumane and illegal way to handle terror suspects"

    Oh pardon me. How dare we deprive terror suspects of their basic rights?... oh I know.. Maybe it has something to do with them trying to deprive us of the right to live... silly me.
    What about the atrocities of Guantanamo, you might ask?

    Here's an article in the New York Post describing the jailing conditions of those who seek to destroy us.

    http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/a_deadly_kindness_opedcolumnists_richard_miniter.htm

    Of course you can argue that no one knows where to draw the line between matters of security and personal freedoms. Others say that once you grant the government more power you've taken one step closer to dictatorship.
    I, for once, choose life over universal values, lest it won't come to the point where those values are useless (i.e. death).

    Don't get me wrong, Bush is a religious Idiot and is a serious prablem, but he's not the issue here.
    I really have a hard time undertanding your complacency in the face of those who seek to destroy you.
    There are times when a democracy has to defent itself from those who use its freedoms and moral values to abuse and undermine those same values and freedoms, and it involves giving up some of your personal rights ( which are, in all respect, mostly absurdly minor).
    Don't make the same mistakes as Europe.
    Peace
    May FSM's blessing be upon you.

    Sergei

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  8. Sergei,

    you are missing several points here. First off, terror suspects are not the same as convicted terrorists. Some of these people may be innocent, and surely you don't want innocent people to be tortured.

    Second, even those that turn out to be terrorists ought to be treated humanely because that's the very thing that distinguishes us from terrorists, and therefore gives us whatever higher moral ground we might have.

    Third, treating a terrorist humanely isn't the same as condoning his acts or not punish him for them. There is no call for leniency here.

    Finally, do yourself a favor, stop reading the New York Post...

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  9. 2 fabian dal santo:

    "You can't win a war on terror without fixing the root cause of the terror."

    That means changing religion, values, education, social structure and many more... Kinda hard if u ask me

    "Terrorism is not a war based strategy."

    It has become a war based strategy ever since radical Islam emerged in afghanistan ( and is now backed by nationalist Pan-Arabism). Your failiure to see that is simply appalling in light of reality and them not even concealing it.

    "It is a strategy used to achieve an aim unrelated to conquering an entire country."

    If you insist on ignoring the rhetoric, which makes it all very clear, than look no further then Europe. The strategy is to conquer the country from within thanks to demographics, and impose its ideals through intimidation and terror. Take a look at Malmo, Berlin or Bruxelles. It's just a matter of time.

    "Terrorism in general, and yes, even this terrorism, is related to achieving the general aim of getting an occupying force out of a country e.g. Saudi Arabia, Northern Ireland, Algeria etc."

    The worst ever misconception used widely by the left to excuse terrorism. Whereas terrorism probably arose from terretorial desputes and as resistance movements, as you've mentioned, it has undergone a metamorphosis ever since. Occupation has become the ultimate scoap goat for justifying any related or unrelated issue.
    The Israeli ocuupation serves as good example of how perversly people can twist reality to their needs.

    "Terrorists do not want to "take over" America."

    Maybe not. They just seek to destroy it and what it stands for.

    "And how could they, considering their numbers?"

    First there's the demographics issue. And let's not forget that we're living in an age where nuclear weapons run loose, Iran is nearly there, and it doesn't take much more than a few "dirty" bombs to reak havoc. Take a minute to think about it.

    "How would they patrol the street?"

    See Taliban.

    "How would they form government?"

    That should be the least of your worries.

    "There is no war. They are not interested in our "freedoms". They want a specific aim."

    Yep, they do. Too bad people like you are making it ever easier for them.

    Sergei.

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  10. 2 MASSIMO

    Thanx for the quick response.
    I anticipated something of that sort and these rationals are quite familiar to me.

    First, I want to appologise for my somewhat primitive english. I will try to address these points as best as i can.

    "terror suspects are not the same as convicted terrorists. Some of these people may be innocent, and surely you don't want innocent people to be tortured."

    I couldn't agree more. The real question here is the probablity of that happening. first of all, the definition of suspect means that there is a basis to suspect that this particular person could pose a threat. That in itself is enough for me to agree for that person to be interogated ( not tortured. why do you dramatise this?). If the evidence does not support such a suspicion the person will be set free and can even be compensated. If indeed there is evidence, than we might have just saved some lives. The beaty of the american judicial system lies in its utter difficulty to prove one's guilt. I think that the currect system is pretty mistake-proof. Basically, the chances of an innicent man being convicted of a crime he didn't do ( especiallt on such a large scale as international terrorism), are negligible compared with the risk of not stopping a mass murder of citizens.
    Even if an innocent man is convicted once in a blue moon, it is a price worth paying for saving the lives of thousands.

    "even those that turn out to be terrorists ought to be treated humanely because that's the very thing that distinguishes us from terrorists, and therefore gives us whatever higher moral ground we might have."

    And they are. The western world's moral grounds are higher, and we sure as hell don't need a justification from them. Treating those who seek to destroy us with the same attitude is not morally inferior to turning the other cheek. History has shown that your kind of approach fails over and over again. The more you try to appease them, the more it backfires. They are the ones who set the rulls for this game, and it would be a suicidal approach to deny that. Will you show up to a dual armed with a stick ( and a lawyer making sure that you don't violate the rules), whereas your opponent is fully armed and has no moral impedance? I doubt it.

    "treating a terrorist humanely isn't the same as condoning his acts or not punish him for them. There is no call for leniency here."

    By treating a terrorist humanely you loose the factor of deterrence to some extent. You are drawing an analogy between him and your average criminal. This is interpreted as weakness in their mind, and only fuels their ambitions. You have to understand the psychology of your enemy. Unfortunately, most americans have not the slighest idea about the Arab/Mulsim mindset. Until they do, it is premature to get my message through.

    As for the NY Post incident, I am not a reader. I simply followed the link to that specific article.
    Is there some political affiliation with the Post? a neo-con bias? Just so that I'll be skeptical in the future.

    Thanx
    Sergei

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  11. Come on people,

    1) Guantanamo detainees have already been released after years of torture only with the conclusion they were completely innocent. Why were they in Guantanamo then? Well, in the aftermath of the war in Afghanistan, if you knew of an Al Qaeda terrorist you could get $ 10.000...

    Besides, I thought people in this land of justice and righteousness that is branded by all the conservatives were innocent until proven otherwise. For Middle Easternes in this political sherade it seems to be the other way around, guilty until proven otherwise - and they are not allowed to have a trial!

    - Flemming

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  12. Sergei,

    Cigarette manufacturers have killed more Americans than terrorists, even if you start counting the day before 9-11. Perhaps they don't have right either.

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  13. I tell you what, Sergei; if you're so sure it's perfectly OK to suspend habeus corpus and intern people without trial, you can be the first person to be wrongly interned. After you've spent a few years at Guantanamo without trial, maybe you'll change your mind. You can comfort yourself during your unjust incarceration with the knowledge that you're helping to make the world a safer place...

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  14. It's funny that none of you addressed the KEY FACTS here, but rather chose to hide behind your righteous excuses. Well, I wouldn't expect it otherwise, since you're obviously haven't encountered none of it firsthand. It is very easy to be moral when these things don't concern you personally. My guess is, it doesn't. Looking at it from an average intelectual upeer class american's ( which I assume is the case ) point of view, it would be surprising if you thought otherwise.

    2 j krehbiel:


    "Cigarette manufacturers have killed more Americans than terrorists, even if you start counting the day before 9-11. Perhaps they don't have right either. "

    Wow. A vey strong argument. Demagogy at its best. I'll leave you to figuire out the fallacies yourself. I don't recall cigarette manufacturers ACTIVELY taking anyones life. It's everyone's right to put whatever the hell they want into their bodies. so don't go crying around when you suffer the consequenses of your own actions.


    2 Kimpatsu:

    "if you're so sure it's perfectly OK to suspend habeus corpus and intern people without trial, you can be the first person to be wrongly interned."

    No. You should have the right to be brought before court, if you're a citizen that is. You wouldn't have wound up there in the first place if you were an innocent lamb. Besides the shere waste of time and money on persecuting random people, it's pretty bad PR if you ask me. You are so paranoid about your government that you're forgetting who's the REAL enemy here. My friend is of cuacasian descent and has a distinctly Arab name. Often than not, whenever going through any check point ( airports for example), he is harrased more than me or every other average person of say European looks. I asked him if it bothered him, and guess what, he is more than happy to cooperate with the authorities, because he knows that it is his life too that they are trying to save. And yes, if there is the slighest suspicion ( you should really look up how the feds or the CIA astablish that. Just a hint: it's not based on mini miney moe...) that a man is involved with subversive activity, you have every right to apprehend him, bring him before a judge who will, after examining the evidance, decide. I don't see anyhthing wrong with that.

    "After you've spent a few years at Guantanamo without trial, maybe you'll change your mind."

    I'm not sure, but I think that the Guantanamo prison is made up entirely of Talliban and Al-Qeida fighters. These are prisoners of war. They engaged in active wafare against american troops, or in terror against american citizens. On what possible grounds can someone like me wind up there? or you? Or any other NON-RELATED person?
    You obviously haven't the slightest idea about the treatment of POWs by the Muslims. Check it out. and come back later.

    "You can comfort yourself during your unjust incarceration with the knowledge that you're helping to make the world a safer place..."

    Once muslims really try to uproot that from societies, this menace will evaporate. As long as muslim communities in the west endorse and nurture terrorism, the life of the average Arab/Muslim in the west is going to be harsh, from obvious reasons. It was their choice to come to the west. Along with them they brought nothing but hatred, death & carnage. So long as this is the case, the innocent ones are going to have to put up with the occasional harrasement for the sake of saving ( maybe even their own) lives.

    Sergei

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  15. Sergei,

    My point about cigarettes is that, compared to many other things, terrorism is a trivial risk. Falling in the shower kills more people.

    And the people at Guantanamo and who knows where else are _accused_ terrorists. Mnay people in Afghanistan are said to have accused people they just didn't like much. What if your neighbor who thought you play your music too loud claimed that you were a terrorist and you spent three years without being able to talk to anyone at all because the Vice President of the United States said you were dangerous and for no better reason?

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  16. "My point about cigarettes is that, compared to many other things, terrorism is a trivial risk. Falling in the shower kills more people."

    You're not making any sense. You remind me of the three monkeys - All in one person. If "Falling in the shower kills more people" is your best argument, It speaks for itself.
    Keep ignoring the warning signs. Unfortunately you will be acountable for not only your own demise.


    "And the people at Guantanamo and who knows where else are _accused_ terrorists."

    Who knows where? Do I sense a bit of paranoia? Guantanamo bay alone doesn't serve your cause well, so you go on implying things which you have no proof of?
    Again, the vast majority of the *suspects* are there for a reason. They rarely hide their intensions. By letting them go, you endanger innocent people. Do you have no moral problem with attacks carried out by those who were released due to beurocracy?

    "Mnay people in Afghanistan are said to have accused people they just didn't like much. What if your neighbor who thought you play your music too loud claimed that you were a terrorist and you spent three years without being able to talk to anyone at all because the Vice President of the United States said you were dangerous and for no better reason?"


    Do you have facts to support such claims? You're going head over heels trying to establish an idea based on fictious assumptions. Call it common sense, but I seriously doubt that this is the case with most detainees. And yes, I trust that same common sense of ordianry people to destinguish a potential threat from false accusations.
    It's OK to be skeptical and judgemental of your own government. In the case of George W
    , I couldn't agree more. However, don't go judging security policies before you fully understand the situation at hand.

    And please, but please, stop these nonsense comparisons.

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  17. Sergei makes the oft repeated error of assuming that all the people being held at Gitmo were caught carrying out some kind of terrorist act or planning one. It is my understanding that probably no more than 10% of those held there were involved in anything untoward.A lot of the detainees were just guys who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. A bunch more were people who were not popular with the warlords, and since the U.S. govt was paying a bounty for "terrorists the warlords saw a wonderful opportunity to rid themselves of their troublemakers (not terrorists) and make some good money to boot.

    Detainees in this situation might very well have been friendly to the U.S. at the time they were "sold" but I would imagine that they are now, after years of unwarranted incarceration, avowed enemies of the Bush regime. And who can blame them!

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  18. 2 Dennis

    Do you have the slighest shred of evidence to support such understandings? Do you have some data? The number of detainees? At least one case of what you're claiming to be the vast majority? Even be it the case, these are not american citizens and are the victims of their own people. America should not risk itself because in afghanistan people are framing their own "brothers".
    America is not out to get innocent people to fill quotas in jails.
    America should be about protecting American citizens first and foremost. If the US government starts putting foreign human rights over the security of it's own people, than the whole wetern world would be in trouble.
    This is war, eventhough it's not visible from the comfort of your armchair. and in war, the rules are different. Anyone who's placing the well being and human rights of the enemy in front of own security is surely bound to lose.

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  19. Sergei,

    As of April 2005 232 detainees have been released from Guantanamo. This leaves you in a double bind, either:

    1) These people are evil terrorists threatening our security, freedom etc. plotting this minute how to destroy us and the Bush government let them free!

    or

    2) They weren't really terrorists, enemy combattants or anything else. They were victims of a $ 10.000 bounty in the initial aftermath of the war in Afghanistan and were innocently held and tortured (somewhat more likely).

    - Flemming

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  20. "(no, I'm not going to be drawn into a cheap comparison with Hitler...)"

    It seems like George Soros didn't resist...

    Sergei,

    Man, regardless of your good intentions, I hope you're never in a position of power...

    Since you think human rights and due process of law don't matter, you probably miss the good old stalinist ways of the former USSR, sounds like? Like, send them to Siberia, just in case. If they're being sent, they must be guilty of *something*, of course. Silly me. In the unlikely case they're innocent, that's OK -- it will eventually get sorted out, and greater evils were sure averted. And the ends justify the means, and all that. Oh, maybe you'd enjoy China's approach to "dangerous people". Just a quick reminder of how things end when people compromise on certain things.

    J
    P.S.: there's no slave driver like a former slave, you know what I mean?

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  21. I don't know who the "Anonymous" writer is who doesn't have the balls to sign his name to his posts, but I decline to dignify his blatherings with a response.

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  22. Sergei, you wrote, "No. You should have the right to be brought before court, if you're a citizen that is. You wouldn't have wound up there in the first place if you were an innocent lamb."
    Oh, really? Ever heard of Project Innocence? The reality is that jails are full of wrongly-convicted people. YoU're right about having a fair trial, though. So when are the people interned in Camp X-Ray going to get that right? Oh, and BTW, that right extends to all people, not just American citizens.

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  23. DENNIS, my lack of attention is accountable for the absence of my name, rather than castration...

    2 flemming

    After reading your post I've scoured the net and found some data. You are absolutely right. 232 have been released so far, which accounts to app. 45% percent. Which still leaves you with app. 55% who are still held in suspicion, otherwise they could have been released too.

    I stongly object the unjustified imprisonment of anyone, but I'm afraid the reality dictates it. The alternative of giving each and every one of them fair trials complicates and puts people's lives in danger. It's a moral decision of what's more important: absolute values or rational analysis. I choose the latter.

    By now, you probably have this impression that I'm some ignorant redneck. I really am not. I consider myself a realistic liberal atheist. I oppose Bush and what he stands for. I'm the last person on earth to justify human rights vialations or oppressions of any kind. On the contrary. I just see your failure to accept that this is a coerced war. In a war it is innavitable to dismiss such incidents as collateral damage. By hiding behind morality and values and failing to grasp the full extent of the situation, we are endangering those same values.

    Sergei

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  24. Sergei, I too see this war as a coerced war, one coerced by Geoge Bush and Company. And I see your acceptance of Bush's bullying of, not only the U.S. but the entire world, as a far more dangerous problem than a few nut cases, languishing on a Caribbean Island. It is quite bothersome that Bush will not and apparently does not have information to file charges against any of these people, even after nearly five years, in many cases.

    Put them on trial (a real trial, not a kangaroo court as Bush wants). If they are found guilty sentence them to what ever is ppropriate, up to and including death, and turn the innocent loose. Get this thing over with.

    Bush was justified in going into Afghanistan, but he blew it, and now that country is reverting back to what it was pre-9/11. He had NO justification for going into Iraq. The "democratization of the Middle East ploy" is the 3rd or 4th one he has used to justify this mess, as all the rest have proven to be false. Any realistic and honest person can readily see that this reason is just as phony as the previous ones were. But Bush continue's to play the fear gambit and a large enough segment of the American people are just stupid enough to swallow his garbage.

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  25. 2 J

    "Man, regardless of your good intentions, I hope you're never in a position of power..."

    Well, so do I. Spare me the headache.

    "Since you think human rights and due process of law don't matter,"

    That's not what I said! Stop putting words in my mouth. It does matter in a society that is governrd by these laws. The same laws and human right do not apply in times of emergency or war, especially your enemy's human rights.


    "You probably miss the good old stalinist ways of the former USSR, sounds like? Like, send them to Siberia, just in case."

    Wouldn't you like that? Stop beating around the bush. If your conscience sees no flaws in such comparisons, I have nothing to say to you.
    Any person comparing the reality of the US with that of Stalinist USSR or China is utterly insane.


    2 kimpatsu

    Prpject Innocence? No I haven't. I'd be glad if you shed some light on it. As far as all people are concerned, I would exclude your proclaimed enemies from the list of "all people" for the obvious reasons. Human rights don't apply when you're dealing with an inhumane enemy.

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  26. 2 DENNIS

    What war are you talking about? The war in Iraq? Yes, it's an unjustified war. The war I'm talking about is the war between Islam and the west.
    Unless you're a wackjob who seriously thinks that 9/11 was an inside job aimed at justifying imperialistic expansion, you have to agree with me that Islam has declared war on the west. Not vice versa.

    "And I see your acceptance of Bush's bullying of, not only the U.S. but the entire world, as a far more dangerous problem than a few nut cases, languishing on a Caribbean Island."

    With your permission, I'll quote Sam Harris who, in my opinion, sums it up pretty neatly:

    "I think that the Bush administration deserves most of the criticism it has received in the last six years — especially with respect to its waging of the war in Iraq, its scuttling of science and its fiscal irresponsibility.
    But my correspondence with liberals has convinced me that liberalism has grown dangerously out of touch with the realities of our world — specifically with what devout Muslims actually believe about the West, about paradise and about the ultimate ascendance of their faith.

    On questions of national security, I am now as wary of my fellow liberals as I am of the religious demagogues on the Christian right.

    This may seem like frank acquiescence to the charge that “liberals are soft on terrorism.” It is, and they are.

    Despite abundant evidence to the contrary, liberals continue to imagine that Muslim terrorism springs from economic despair, lack of education and American militarism.

    At its most extreme, liberal denial has found expression in a growing subculture of conspiracy theorists who believe that the atrocities of 9/11 were orchestrated by our own government.
    Such an astonishing eruption of masochistic unreason could well mark the decline of liberalism, if not the decline of Western civilization. There are books, films and conferences organized around this phantasmagoria, and they offer an unusually clear view of the debilitating dogma that lurks at the heart of liberalism: Western power is utterly malevolent, while the powerless people of the Earth can be counted on to embrace reason and tolerance, if only given sufficient economic opportunities.

    I don’t know how many more engineers and architects need to blow themselves up, fly planes into buildings or saw the heads off of journalists before this fantasy will dissipate. The truth is that there is every reason to believe that a terrifying number of the world’s Muslims now view all political and moral questions in terms of their affiliation with Islam. This leads them to rally to the cause of other Muslims no matter how sociopathic their behavior. This benighted religious solidarity may be the greatest problem facing civilization and yet it is regularly misconstrued, ignored or obfuscated by liberals.

    Given the mendacity and shocking incompetence of the Bush administration — especially its mishandling of the war in Iraq — liberals can find much to lament in the conservative approach to fighting the war on terror. Unfortunately, liberals hate the current administration with such fury that they regularly fail to acknowledge just how dangerous and depraved our enemies in the Muslim world are.

    Recent condemnations of the Bush administration’s use of the phrase “Islamic fascism” are a case in point. There is no question that the phrase is imprecise — Islamists are not technically fascists, and the term ignores a variety of schisms that exist even among Islamists — but it is by no means an example of wartime propaganda, as has been repeatedly alleged by liberals.

    In their analyses of U.S. and Israeli foreign policy, liberals can be relied on to overlook the most basic moral distinctions. For instance, they ignore the fact that Muslims intentionally murder noncombatants, while we and the Israelis (as a rule) seek to avoid doing so. Muslims routinely use human shields, and this accounts for much of the collateral damage we and the Israelis cause; the political discourse throughout much of the Muslim world, especially with respect to Jews, is explicitly and unabashedly genocidal.

    Given these distinctions, there is no question that the Israelis now hold the moral high ground in their conflict with Hamas and Hezbollah. And yet liberals in the United States and Europe often speak as though the truth were otherwise.

    Unless liberals realize that there are tens of millions of people in the Muslim world who are far scarier than Dick Cheney, they will be unable to protect civilization from its genuine enemies.

    Increasingly, Americans will come to believe that the only people hard-headed enough to fight the religious lunatics of the Muslim world are the religious lunatics of the West. Indeed, it is telling that the people who speak with the greatest moral clarity about the current wars in the Middle East are members of the Christian right, whose infatuation with biblical prophecy is nearly as troubling as the ideology of our enemies. Religious dogmatism is now playing both sides of the board in a very dangerous game.

    While liberals should be the ones pointing the way beyond this Iron Age madness, they are rendering themselves increasingly irrelevant. Being generally reasonable and tolerant of diversity, liberals should be especially sensitive to the dangers of religious literalism. But they aren’t.

    The same failure of liberalism is evident in Western Europe, where the dogma of multiculturalism has left a secular Europe very slow to address the looming problem of religious extremism among its immigrants. The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.

    To say that this does not bode well for liberalism is an



    "Bush was justified in going into Afghanistan, but he blew it, and now that country is reverting back to what it was pre-9/11. He had NO justification for going into Iraq. The "democratization of the Middle East ploy" is the 3rd or 4th one he has used to justify this mess, as all the rest have proven to be false. Any realistic and honest person can readily see that this reason is just as phony as the previous ones were. But Bush continue's to play the fear gambit and a large enough segment of the American people are just stupid enough to swallow his garbage."

    I agree. But I see it as self defence rather than aggresion. ( not Iraq, but the overall picture).

    Thanx for your attention

    Sergei

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  27. Sergei,

    So I presume you have somewhat changed your mind from your perspective that these people are all terrorists plotting to destroy America then? These people have been tortured for years never having done a god damn thing wrong, which is exactly why I want a trial for these people so that can come out. I remind you that some of the detainees who have been imprisoned (unlawfully, innocently and without a trial) were no more than 13 years old at the time. How fucked up is that? How realistic is it really that 7th graders are brilliant military strategists planning to overthrow the U.S.?
    And finally, "The alternative of giving each and every one of them fair trials complicates and puts people's lives in danger."

    How? If these people are all Zarqawis and Bin Ladens how fucking hard is it to build a case against them?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Sergei

    I do find many of your comments persuasive.

    But given the difficulties of making decisions in these areas, should we not at least use hindsight to correct some of our vision?

    The release of almost half of the Guantanamo detainees is indeed a significant fact.

    The fact that Bush is able, for political reasons, to reach a compromise with his dissident Republicans is another significant fact. Looks like there was some wiggle room there after all. What if there were no dissidents?

    True, most countries have some kind of Emergency Measures Act, or War Measures Act. I think most sane people agree these things are necessary. But the application needs to be subjected to constant scrutiny.

    Most of the arguments used to justify the detainments in Guantanomo could also be used to justify the internment of Japanese in World War II. And what does hindsight tell us about that?

    ReplyDelete
  29. The so-called compromise has turned out to be a sham, just as one might have suspected. The way is clear for Bush to hold his kangaroo courts. Justice by Bush - now that is one scary proposition.

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  30. 2 anonymous

    Yes they deserve a fair trial, but not at the expanse of security. we should do everything in power to ensure fair treatment and justice, but we should not release them just because the beaurocratic procedures take longer than you can detain a suspect without trial according to US law. Security should be prior to any other cnsiderations. Unfortunately the judicial system is not fail-proof, whereas one such incident can lead to catastrophic results. Is this a chance you're willing to take for the sake of ideals?

    "How realistic is it really that 7th graders are brilliant military strategists planning to overthrow the U.S.?"

    Overthrow the US? no. Kill thousands? Very likely. The IslamoJugens is the real problem here. The culture that allows 7th graders to fight adult wars. Why should the US treat humanely those who are sent to their adolescent death by their own parents who take pride in that on top of all?

    How hard it is to build a case? I'd say almost impossible.

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  31. 2 P Merton

    I do believe that you're reffering to Sam Harris's commentary. I wish I could express myself with such clarity and accuracy. But I have yet to find something to disagree with him, so he practically speaks for me (literally).

    I agree with every word of yours. Yours are words of reason and wisdom. My beef here is with those whose hatred of the Bush administration leads them to loosing any proportion or a touch with reality.

    Peace
    Sergei

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  32. "Overthrow the US? no. Kill thousands? Very likely. The IslamoJugens is the real problem here. The culture that allows 7th graders to fight adult wars."

    You seriously believe these 13 year olds are the masterminds behind terrorist attacks killing thousands? Are you mad? There is absolutely nothing supporting such a lunatic statement, and you provide no arguments to make it any more probable than it sounds off the bat.

    "How hard it is to build a case? I'd say almost impossible."

    Well, let's try to use logic here Sergei, I know you conservatives don't fancy it, but let's give it a try.

    If we are absolutely certain these people held at Guantanamo are terrorists who threaten the security of America, we would normally base that off evidence and probability calculations rather than with conversations with God and rolling dice. Such evidence could be very useful in trial, and with such evidence it would be pretty straightforward to build a case against them. If there is not a shred of evidence, and we don't know anything about them, we should probably reconsider torturing and illegally holding them indefinitely.

    - Flemming

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  33. 2 flemming

    have you read my qoutation of Sam Harris? If you did, than you are the last one to preach me about logic.

    Suffice it to say that a single suicide bomber ( age not relevant. The younger the less suspicious and easier to carry out an attack) can kill up to two dozen people, provided he's using just conventional explosives. Multiply that by the number of detinees at Guantanamo and you'll see just how much damage they can cause. Theoritically, that is.

    Israel had its share of minors trying to blow themselves up. The same thing is with the Talliban or the Mujahideen or any other Islamic militia for that matter. They don't have aminimum age there.

    "I know you conservatives don't fancy it"
    " rather than with conversations with God and rolling dice"

    Haha.. talk about misconception..
    You just keep thinking that. I see you like categorizing anyone who disagrees with you. Makes it a lot easier, right?

    " If there is not a shred of evidence, and we don't know anything about them, we should probably reconsider torturing and illegally holding them indefinitely."

    The perpetrators of 9/11 and other terror attacks were known to the intelligence community, yet they were not arrested due to lack of evidence and their inability to astablish a case against them. We've all witnesed the results of their impotence.

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  34. Wow, ok.

    13 year olds can blow up a dozen people. Yeah, that's not the point.

    he perpetrators of 9/11 and other terror attacks were known to the intelligence community"

    Does that mean you1) When is the last time a 13 year old threatened U.S. National Security (or do you really care more about Israel?)

    2) When is the last time a 13 year old led a terrorist attack against the U.S.

    3) Supposing the barely teenagers in Guantanamo are guilty of something - which based on empirical evidence is probably a stretch - how much information can they really give? Unless that is, you think they are the "masterminds".

    4) Any fucking kid can carry a backpack with explosive, there is no shortage, so if it is just kids being used as tools, withholding these ones at Guantanamo has absolutely zero efficacy. It is not a solutiun, and might just partially cause the problem.

    As for the logic quote, you clearly missed the logic in my argument which I will elaborate on next, but since you did the quote is most certainly justified. Your ethic of torturing and detaining people who MIGHT do something wrong in the future is patently absurd as we would all then be targets.

    I would like to see you say this is fair after unjustly being tortured and illegally held for years and years after which the American Gov't was just like "My Bad".

    ReplyDelete
  35. Sergei,

    That's not what I said! Stop putting words in my mouth. It does matter in a society that is governrd by these laws. The same laws and human right do not apply in times of emergency or war, especially your enemy's human rights.

    Wait a second, you said it again, in the same sentence where you denied it! OK, this time you specified "times of emergency or war"... Have you ever heard of international law, by any chance? The universal declararion of human rights? So, by your logic: you are bad (in the eyes of Islamic radicals, for whatever "reason"), therefore you have no rights. They are thus morally justified in blowing you up. It goes both ways, man. And doing it the way you and that write you cite are advocating, it all boils down to "whomever has the biggest stick is always right". Business as usual, I know, but far from what we should strive for, I believe.

    If your conscience sees no flaws in such comparisons, I have nothing to say to you. Any person comparing the reality of the US with that of Stalinist USSR or China is utterly insane.

    Well, I don't know if you got too nervous there and stopped reading before the end of my post, but when I finished with: "Just a quick reminder of how things end when people compromise on certain things." I certainly did not mean that the US now is like the USSR was or China is. But more that we know how these things end, but is usually hard to see exactly how they started... Now talk about a BIG risk to take. What's a few people blown up versus the biggest military power ever becoming out of control?

    Human rights don't apply when you're dealing with an inhumane enemy.

    No comments...

    J

    ReplyDelete

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