Return to waterboarding? Kill terrorists’ families? Modeling the terrorists would be self-defeating…

Donald Trump says we can’t be timid about using torture as a weapon because our enemies are not and because we shy away from going there  (or continuing to waterboard as we have in the past) we are not winning the war on terror. And since we are facing something called Islamic terrorism, he says we must ban all Muslims from the country. He says a lot of other things along those lines, such as we should kill members of terrorists’ families

Using his logic we could not have won World War II. The Japanese and Germans tortured and killed some prisoners of war. The Germans executed six million Jews and others Hitler claimed were of an inferior race and a menace to society. But the U.S. and the allies did not resort to a policy of such barbaric actions as those of the axis powers (not to say that there were no isolated instances of prisoner mistreatment or even summary execution).

Fortunately those in charge at the time, such as President Franklin Roosevelt (a Democrat) and Gen. Eisenhower (supreme allied commander and eventually a Republican president of the United States), did not have us become what we were trying to defeat.

War is hell. That is true. And you do things in war you would not do otherwise. But if you give up your morality, your principles, and your soul, then you have lost anyway.

Add to that, once you go down the road of the barbarians, any of their ilk that we catch and detain will just have more reason to hate and will have reason to seek revenge. We would hardly be able to argue our way was better.

In fact, the only way we could ever really prevail in this war on terrorism is to defeat the existing enemies but at the same time convince their potential replacements that our civilized ways are better. If we must become the enemy to defeat the enemy we will have lost everything  and would likely never gain it back.

The only somewhat defensible excuse to use torture would be to gain information that would save lives and only in an instance when there was no other way to gain that information, but that is hypothetical and I think the evidence is that torture only forces a response, if anything, with no guarantee that the response is accurate or helpful. In fact, the response could be misleading.

I have always thought that we have laws that forbid us from using physical torture, but that we would be best to not talk too much about the whole thing. Our enemies should be kept guessing. It’s the unknown that un-nerves people. Ah but yes, our enemies know we have rules and morals. But then again, when captured and isolated away from their comrades, and all alone, well really, what do they know?

Various non-violent methods of subterfuge can be used to effectively elicit information. Our own courts have ruled that police can lie to suspects in order to trick them into divulging information.

I mean if you are vicious enough you could probably beat a confession out of anyone to most anything — just make it stop! But is the “confession” true? If not, what good is it?

Trump of course is only parroting things one might hear on the street.

We need tough but intelligent leaders, not reactionaries out of the gutter.

p.s.

Trump goes back and forth. Says one thing to one audience and then tones it down to another and then claims he never said something at all. But I have heard him say clearly more than once he wants to bring back waterboarding and other rough treatment (torture) and make it legal. A lot of people probably think that way. I don’t and hope that the power remains with the civilized in this nation. And really, it is unsettling that we even have to consider whether we should use torture or uncivilized tactics such as murdering the families of our enemies.

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