Tuesday, December 06, 2005

taste and decency

OK, a brief summing up of Dave’s latest but with passing reference to one howler. Dave cites evidence that torture works, using the following instance:

One newspaper pointed out that McCain himself had collapsed after four days of beatings at the “Hanoi Hilton” and signed a war crimes confession. “That McCain broke under torture doesn’t make him any less of an American hero,” said the paper, “but it does prove he’s wrong to claim that harsh interrogation techniques simply don’t work.”

Torture is supposed to work, not because people confess to things, but because they confess to things that they actually did. QED, John McCain is a war criminal, by Aaro’s logic.

Establishing the boundaries of taste in discussion of a tricky subject like torture is a difficult act to maintain, and by and large he does a competent job of the ideological policing involved. Let’s review:

Dave cites the Der Spiegel figure of over 400 CIA flights passing through European airspace. He then conflates this with the Washington Post list of 20-30 detainees to say that the practice of torture is therefore not widespread. That follows if the only people being flown through Europe are the people listed by the Washington Post and if the Washington Post list is complete. Dave then cites Liberty’s request for more information over what might be going on as confirmation of his assertion that very little is in fact going on. He also characterizes this request as an admission. Even those civil rights loonies succumb to the skeptical eye of Dave.

Dave mentions some of the milder forms of torture authorized by the US government, but somehow forgets about other permitted information extraction techniques, for instance hanging people up by their elbows and simulated drowing/suffocation. Funny how that didn’t stick in his mind.

Every person who Dave mentioned as being subjected to torture turns out to be al Qaeda affiliated. Once again something seems to have slipped his mind, namely that the lead in the Der Spiegel story concerns a man who the US now admits was completely innocent.

Dave’s not such a fool as to come out in favour of torture. He comes out in favour of being as little like our oppressors as possible, which given the fact that he seems to think that not much is going on and then only to bad actors sounds more like distrinction of taste than anything else. But the possibility that a good deal more of it might be going on, and to people with no connection to terrorism, well that’s just “x-files stuff.” It’s not something that decent people talk about if they want to be included in a serious conversation. Like the bruschetta boy says, there are aesthetics to consider.

- Rioja Kid


Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

This bit is just fanciful and disgusting in equal measure:

Good old-fashioned disastrous realpolitik would suggest that we turn aside while torture happens. If, in the short term, we have a chance of extracting a few key names, places and plans, then lives may be saved and we should let the renderers rend. It is precisely the same logic that led to us trade smiles and Sandhurst places with Middle Eastern dictators for years.

So Dave's trying to get away with the claim that it's most likely the people who didn't support the war who are really in favour of torture?! Kind of "first you don't want to start a war against the Muslims, then you don't want to torture the Muslims, make up your mind!". Does he think that anyone's going to be fooled by this?

It really is the most awesome projection I've seen since Gail Porter's arse on the Houses of Parliament. Aaro can't imagine how anyone could have any motivations other than his own two conflicting senses of fear and Pollyannaism. If it's not one, it has to be the other.

12/07/2005 11:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article by Aaro is a perfect example of how slippery his arguments are, and of why I often want to kick something (since I can't kick him) after reading them.

Congratulations on so deftly shining a spotlight on the plumbing of this typically infuriating piece.

12/10/2005 06:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minor point, McCain *was* a war criminal, part of an imperialist war against Vietnam

12/13/2005 05:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

However he was unlikely to have been guilty of the specific war crimes dealt with in his confession (and furthermore your implied view that all soldiers taking part in a war of aggression are jointly and severally guilty of the crime of aggression is controversial jurisprudence to say the least).

12/13/2005 03:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bugger jurisprudence, he was part of the US attempt to "bomb Vietnam back into the stone age" (General Curtis LeMay).
In the face of terror bombing of North Vietnam, it seems to me Vietnamese treatment of captured US servicemen was remarkably humane

12/14/2005 09:44:00 AM  

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