Saturday, September 23, 2006

There is NO doubt; War is Inherently Evil

This is my answer to Ed’s rejoinder to my original posting on detainees and interrogation practices. I suggest you take a look at his last comment to my response post before reading on.


Mr. Abbey! It seems that I bring out your OWN not so latent tendencies for long-windedness, one of my many "effects" on people!

Warriors can follow all the "rules" and STILL war is an inherently immoral act. I don't think you can really appreciate the truth of that until you experience even a small part of it. The unavoidable gory violence is just plain wrong, but there's no way to get around engaging in it if we are serious about maintaining our nation and its way of life and belief systems. We do our best to stay within a hazy "moral" framework, but in all reality, "morality" and "war" are contradictory. Bottom-line: War is evil; anyone who has been anywhere near it knows that.

Just the same, we need our warriors and they need our support and understanding. Part of that is trusting them to do what they have to do to win and survive. Interrogation of captured enemies is part of that. I don't know if you've watched him, but FOX’s OReilly is DEAD wrong when he says ONLY the CIA can be trusted to perform interrogations. Sometimes he says the STUPIDEST things, and in that
New York City arrogant know-it-all way that can get under my skin. The military has very competent intelligence troops that are highly trained to do interrogations. It IS a combat skill that needs to be available as close as possible to the front lines.

We are closer to agreeing on this issue than I thought. Waterboarding seems worse than it is. Thousands of our own people are waterboarded as part of their training to get an understanding of it before they use it as a tool to extract information, or in case they themselves are captured and interrogated. In reality, it’s ultimately harmless; although I can assure you it goes against your standard of "respecting" our enemies’ dignity. But there are NO techniques that follow your unreasonable requirement to be "nice." As I said, war is not nice and few things having to do with it are pleasant.

It's obvious to me that you and many Americans react against any of this stuff out of a highly commendable sense of decency. That's great and makes me proud to be a fellow citizen, but it clouds your well-meaning judgments. Sometimes we have to set aside our instinctive tendencies to be nice, especially when it comes to conducting warfare. A primary tasking of military basic training is to strip away that part of our psyches that won’t allow us to do certain “inhumane” things such as killing other humans, and then reprogram them to make it possible for our young people to “close with and destroy” when the time comes. It's a horrific process, but there's no way around it. Read my "letters from bootcamp" and you'll see partly what I'm talking about.

You're still obsessed with Abu Ghraib and you should stop. WE were the ones who found out what happened and WE fixed it. It wasn't due to some nosy reporter doing a story and happening upon it. It was from an INTERNAL investigation. We found it, and WE took care of it. What those guardsmen (now imprisoned) did was pure self-indulgent evil, just the same, not one prisoner was killed, and not one was seriously injured. College fraternity hazing incidents are much worse. ONLY in the American military would you have even learned that such a thing took place, because of the purposeful transparency of our system. Get over it Ed, and give your countrymen some recognition for getting it right and exacting some justice.

Keeping these captured jihadists locked up on an island for 5 years is against our constitution? First of all Ed, ONLY the worst of the worst are at
Guantanamo. Our folks are NOT simply letting those guys languish. There is a team of legal, medical, and intelligence people monitoring and working with them 24 hours a day. These guys have more rights and more access to medical treatment and other "amenities" than any war-time prisoners in the history of the world; they are NOT your run of the mill criminals, they are worse. You are wasting your time feeling sorry for those murdering SOBs. Every single one of them, if allowed to be in a room with you and your family, would cut your throats in the wink of an eye, and do so in the name of their god. Do you think I'm exaggerating?

Guantanamo is not legally US soil. Why do you think we placed them there? They committed their "acts" on foreign soil, they were captured on foreign soil, and American Constitutional Law does not apply to them. They fall under the authority of US military law, which is a tribunal system. I already explained that.

Yours and the Democratic Party’s (and I’m not saying you are a Democrat) insistence that
Afghanistan should be the ONLY Theater we fight in is as wrongheaded as it can get. Jihadists come from many nations and they go where they feel they can strike us and make good civilian people like you howl and wring your hands. These guys are vicious, but they aren't stupid. They know militarily we are stronger, and that our ONE weak area is the vacillation and the weak wills of our civilian population. If we lose, it will be because we simply quit, just as the Spanish public did when their civilian population screamed in protest when things got too bloody. If we can succeed in setting up a new government in Iraq, we strike a gigantic blow against Bin Laden, and that’s why he himself has stated that his primary goal is to defeat us IN Iraq. Iraq IS now the war on terror.

We do everything in our power to do the "right" thing, whether it comes to reducing collateral damage or not harming prisoners permanently during interrogations. NO army in the world goes to the lengths we do, even to the point of putting our own lives at risk. Mistakes happen, but we don't quit because they do. You're a nice guy Ed, but you have a classic case of the "bleeding heart" and God bless you for it.

No, I think
Iowa is the LAST place terrorists will strike, and you are typical of many who don't want to give the president ANY credit for having prevented enemy attacks on Americans. A HUGE reason for HIS success is that we are now on the terrorist's territory and THAT is keeping them preoccupied, but the Patriot Act and other measures taken by our military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies are doing things to protect you too. Like many, you are taking all that for granted. Ed, you really have a hard time disguising your disgust for the man. What a shame. He's more like you than you know.

I enjoyed your rejoinder to my rejoinder, but you haven't changed my mind by any even a little. Maybe someone reading this exchange MIGHT have a change of heart, but I doubt it. People who don't understand will continue to not do so, and people like me, well, we'll continue to be RIGHT! Maybe someday I can talk some sense into you! (Chuckle).


Ed said...

I thought that all U.S. naval bases on foreign land were considered U.S. territory and thus covered by the Constitution? You know more about this than I do Phil. What status does a military base on foreign land have? I'm sure they fall under local laws?

Not all Guantanomo Bay prisoners are the worst of the worst. I know of three Britains, two French, one Swedish and an Australian that have been release with no charges. The only reason these stick out is because they all claimed to be abused and tortured. Others releases include three children aged 13 to 15. When we admittingly release a thirteen year old boy after several years of imprisonment with no charges, how am I to believe that we truly only keep the worst of the worst at Guantanamo?

In the end, I agree with you in that we probably won't see eye to eye on this issue. You definitely have a different perspective than I do on the issue and it has been fun to read. I especially enjoyed your interrogation story and am glad that I wasn't on the receiving end of that one.

Ed said...

The last sentence of the first paragraph should read, "I'm sure they DON'T fall under local laws?"

PhilippinesPhil said...

Actually, no, you are mistaken and its understandable because you haven't been" in." Military personnel, depending on jurisdiction, fall under BOTH the Constitution and the UCMJ, or the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. That means we are even subject to double jeopardy, and there are many other so-called "rights" that we sacrifice by serving, but we do so knowingly. The UCMJ exists because we serve overseas and on ships where the Constitution does not come in to play. And remember, there are things that we are pledged to do, like put our lives on the line in battle, if required, that NO OTHER American is asked to do. Even policemen and fireman can walk off the job in the middle of a "fire or fire fight" and all it means is getting fired. When we do it, it means the firing squad. We can serve big prison time for having consensual sex, if its with the wrong person, not so with any civilian, and the list goes on and on. Its a legal culture you cannot fathom until you serve.

I believe I already told you how it works when we are charged in a foreign land. Every country we have troops in, BEFORE we send them there, we establish a SOFA, or Status of Forces Agreement. We do this to protect our people, and no, we don't immediately surrender our people when a local charge is made against them. The danger occurs when the local police pick up our guys and gals before our legal and law enforcement folks can evaluate what happened. For instance, those Marines who have been esconced in the American embassy in Manila... The local case against them is falling apart and it looks like the charges will be dropped. It was great that our people protected them instead of automatically giving them up to the Manila prosecutors who are more interested in politics and saving face than in justice, and THAT is an example why we did NOT simply leave our marines out to dry.

You admit yourself that several detainees were released with "no charge." In fact, we have realease MOST of the people brought there, but the ones who are KEPT there, are the worst and most dangerous. Our best interrogators are there and we've built some very accomodating facilities. If we shut down Gitmo, we'll just have to make another one someplace else. As long as we have a "sensible" administration in charge of this war, we'll keep it up and operating... Sorry you don't trust us to do the right thing, but "right" is sometimes ugly and unseemly. THAT is war, and I've said it already.

Ed said...

This is your blog so I'll leave you with the last word. Thanks for the info.

PhilippinesPhil said...

You're such a pleasant fellow Ed; it's hard to keep a head of steam up with you...(shaking head, chuckle, grin, cocked head)