[lit-ideas] Re: Hersh and the Devil's Advocate

  • From: Teemu Pyyluoma <teme17@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 08:40:42 -0700 (PDT)

--- Scribe1865@xxxxxxx wrote:
> In a message dated 5/16/2004 3:26:17 PM Eastern
> Daylight Time, 
> writeforu2@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
> The only way we can find such behavior forgivable is
> in a fight to the
> death. Is that what's going on here?
> Still playing Devil's Advocate, I reply YES, that's
> what we have here. That 
> is the nature of Islamic Theofascism, not a
> patriotic protection of national 
> culture but an imperialist ideology of world
> domination. In fact, it is our 
> blending of the two that allows us to extenuate and
> apologize for the 
> half-measures we take.
> Granted it's a SLOW fight to the death, but only
> because our opponents lack 
> our vast stockpiles of weapons. But they sure can
> make bombs! Check the morning 
> news.
Response to threat would preferably be preceeded by
threat analysis of some kind, which would certainly
include an assesment of not only potential attackers
will but also their ability to to inflict damage. That
"Islamic Theofascism" or whatever seeks the end of
Western Civilization (or whatever) is a long way from
being actually able to carry it out.

> To the esteemed Robert Paul, I reply that "should be
> able to" means "should 
> be able to, without legal let or hindrance." Without
> legal hindrance from an 
> overscrupulous JAG, we would have eliminated Mullah
> Omar in Afghanistan. In 
> general, the US has so many rules of engagement and
> restrictions that we are slow 
> to respond when quick response would bring a
> success.
In general, there are particular legal restrictions. I
don't see what if anything rules prohibiting (some)
bombing missions have to do with other rules
prohibiting torture of prisoners. The connection to
speed of response is even more obscure. If rules are
over-restrictive and unpractical, they need to be
modified not rejected on the whole.

On a related note, arguments for removing various
legal limits tend to assume that everything would go
more smoothly if only police, army, intelligence
agencies, etc. wouldn't have rules constraining their
behaviour. And I've never seen this assumption backed
in any way. This effectively means that "Red Tape" is
the magic word which gets a govenment bureau out of
the mess of having to explain their own incompetence.
Double-convenience here is that should the bureau get
their wish, they get rid of over-sight that would call
them on their incompetence in the first place.

Inquisition used torture, consider the quality of
information they got. From operational point of view,
the main problem with US intelligence in Iraq is that
they are so clueless that 90% of people they capture
are innocent, meaning also that they are totally
irrelevant for US occupation forces and as such a
waste of scarce resources. To add insult to an injury,
not only is the tortury of prisoners cruel and
inhumane, it is also likely to be unnecessary or even
> Finally, the Devil's Advocate reminds readers that
> all nations act solely in 
> their self-interest, act amorally on a daily basis,
> so that bringing moral 
> considerations into acts of national survival is
> inappropriate. "Morality" is the 
> rhetoric every nation uses as part of its PR
> campaign.
"PR campaign" is what a Nation boils down to. Nation
is a concencus on mainly moral issues: concept of
justice, what can be expected of citizens, scope of
government power and so on. What the concensus is
varies from nation to nation, but contradictory
behaviour in home and abroad weakens the concensus.
Even the most Machivellian President of USA would have
to cloak his imperialist plans in rhetoric of freedom
and prosperity, the most militant Islamist in language
of justice and religion, and if the gulf betweem words
and deeds grows wide enough he will eventually loose
his support at home.

Helsinki, Finland

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