Thursday, July 2, 2009

If it is not torture, why bother?

There is an on-going debate in America about whether water boarding and other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques constitute "torture." On the surface, everyone pretends to agree that when pain or discomfort rise to a certain level, they become "torture" and are no longer morally acceptable. The entire debate is a farce.

No one really believes that mild pain or discomfort is an effective interrogation technique. Just image that hardened terrorist breaking down because of mild or even moderate pain. The very idea is comical, even worthy of a Monte Python skit. I do not know if real torture is an effective way to get information, but anything less certainly is not. (Of course, there are other techniques that do not involve any meaningful pain or discomfort at all; I am not referring to those here).

Reasonable minds can differ about whether torture is ever morally acceptable and/or a good strategy in the long run. But half measures are silly, and I cannot believe anyone seriously contends otherwise. Those who are advocating the use of these techniques must really believe that they inflict intolerable pain, otherwise they would not even bother.

So, let's give up the charade and either agree that torture is acceptable under some clearly defined and limited circumstances, or ban it altogether and stop fooling around.

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