Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Conservative Commentators on Prisoner Abuse

This article has several links about what conservative writers are saying about the abuse and torture of prisoners -- and most appear to be saying that the whole thing is overblown, etc. One, however, made a
Conservative Case for Outrage
, which is worth quoting from:

If the prisoner torture should piss off anyone, it should piss off Iraq hawks the most. Although my views of the war are well-known, I know that there were many good-faith supporters of the war who believed strongly in the cause and who believe strongly in democracy promotion. But there is nothing – and I mean nothing – that undermines our efforts and our mission more than the torture of Muslims, especially when that torture is coldly calculated to exploit Arabs’ religious views. The whole thing has a level of sophistication far beyond what nineteen-year old reservists from West Virginia could devise. And to those we most need to persaude, it vindicates bin Laden’s claims that we are hostile to Islam.

You can’t defeat an insurgency – whether in Iraq or in the war on terror, which is essentially a global insurgency – by military force alone. That’s because an insurgency isn’t finite. Its numbers and resources expand and contract with public opinion. (This is the main reason why the whole "so-we-don't-fight-them-at-home" line doesn't make much sense, logically speaking. Our efforts have increased the ranks of those that hate us.) We can raze every city in the Sunni Triangle (and we’re well on our way), but we will never defeat an elastic insurgency if we can’t win the hearts and minds of the local population. If you care about the success of this mission, both in Iraq and more globally, logic demands outrage. I mean, imagine if an Islamic army conquered America. Then imagine if you watched your countrymen get raped, tortured, and murdered by a foreign army who you didn’t really like anyway. Do you think you’d sign up for the Iraq 2.0 police squad or would you join the local insurgency with your family and childhood friends?

Exactly. Besides just the human rights part of it, which should outrage us just as human beings, we are acting against our own stated interests by doing this. And it's not even effective in getting information, which is what it is supposed to accomplish. I'm trying to remember the definition of folly from Barbara Tuchman's *The March of Folly* -- I think this qualifies. Treating prisoners this way is not only inhumane; it is just plain stupid.

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