Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Lode 10-12

Sometimes I draw the short end in point-counter-point. Here's my column anyway.

In recent news, the Senate passed a Pentagon appropriations bill by a vote of 90-9, but it wasn't the 440 billion dollar spending package that caught the evil eye from Bush. Instead, it was an amendment which banned “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment of prisoners.

Bush's White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, defended the proposed veto by reasoning that the amendment “would limit the President’s ability as commander-in-chief to effectively carry out the war on terrorism.” Though the reasoning is slightly lacking, banning torture is nothing more than good intentions, falling several steps short of practicality.

After all, war is hell. Every veteran who has seen a fight will say this phrase with a reverence that ensures the listener that the phrase somehow does war an injustice. Banning torture in war seems a bit like trying to take bath without getting wet. It is okay to bomb a soldier's headquarters, but give him less than three square meals a day and that is a torture we must be rid of.

Let us assume for the sake of the argument that the Iraq War is necessary, something it is not. Under this presumption, if in any way torture helps us achieve the end of this war while minimizing U.S. casualties, if the only negative effect of torture is a couple of angry ACLU lawyers and a sad terrorist, I've got no sympathy.

When we do decide a war is necessary, we should fight it furiously with the intent of obtaining our objective and minimizing U.S. casualties. As General George S. Patton—who knew a thing or two about war—once said, “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

The truth is cold and brutal, but to say otherwise is folly.


troutsky said...

Just what do you understand Christian values to be? You really seem far to old for your age.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

I thank you for the compliment. May I add that I think you seem far too young for yours?

This is a difficult one to answer. Christ obviously told us to love our neighbor, and we should. But pacificism is a ridiculous philosophy. It can be noted that I quote Chesterton often only because I believe he is a "wiser man than I".

He said, "War is not 'the best way of settling differences; it is the only way of preventing their being settled for you."

Catholics have what is called the "just war doctrine". I have linked it here:

Still though, the question is difficult. Clearly torture is not in line with Christian thought. In the article I did not mean to claim that torture is okay, only to say that war is torture. Outlawing torture is naively idyllic. Further, organizations such as the ACLU have watered down the definition of torture to where things like not giving the prisoners enough calories a day could be construed as a war crime.

The other points, which I did not have time to make--articles have to be about 300 words unfortunately--is that this law is both, uneforceable and already in place. What I mean, is that we cannot prevent torture from occuring and we already punish those who perpetuate such crimes.

As for Christian values, the old testament is rife with war. There are many stories of courageous men and women who partook in the slaughter of other human beings. The list is so long I need not even mention any here. Still, the new testament changed a good deal, and things aren't as they once were.

I am rambling, precisely because this is a hard thing to define. It is okay for a Christian to fight in a war, if it is just. That is clear, for no one would argue that WWII, say, was not just, at least on behalf of the allies.

I think each one needs to be taken on a case by case basis. Though many Christians are gung-ho about the Iraq War, the late Pope John Paul II clearly noted that it was not a just war and Catholics at least should not fight in it. At least, that is my amateurish interpretation.

I hope some of that makes sense. As always, feel free to ask me to clarify if need be.

troutsky said...

It is the line"if in any way torture helps us achieve the end of this war while minimizing US casualties..Ive got no sympathy." which is alarming. Questions of military efficacy notwithstanding, it is still,in my opinion, necessary to stand for something despite it's apparent practicability .Christ was not much worried about the practical nature of his positions.The negative effect of torture is much more than "a couple of angry lawers and a sad terrorist" , it is the loss of civilization.A couple of proud warriors on neo-neo cons Pacifism thread I refer to also reject civilization. This is serious business.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

What of Hiroshima then? By all accounts we saved lives by dropping the bomb, yet to argue that what we did to Japanese civilians was anything but torture seems to be a stretch. The logical conclusion then is that Truman was behaving improperly and we should have fought the Japanese to the death, leaving their civilization even more tattered--and manless.

Another thought provoking example rears its head. Sherman razed the South in an effort to win the war, and, despite the questionable humanity of his mission, he achieved his objective. If all soldiers were gentleman like McClellan, the war would have lasted much longer.

Again, it is not an easy question, most especially for a Christian to answer. I beg your patience as I attempt to sort this mess out.