Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Waterboarding or civilian deaths?


Which is worst? Waterboarding or civilian deaths?

My question is provocative for a reason. I do have a point to make -- not an anti-US military point but something more philosophical.

Today, the US armed forces is investigating reports that civilian deaths occurred during a clash between Taliban and Coalition forces.  President Obama has publicly stated that he thought Bush made a mistake in switching to Iraq before completing the fight against al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  In the process of carrying out this mission, civilians will be killed.  Undoubtedly, civilians are not purposefully targeted but become collateral damage -- an unfortunate reality of war.  It is my assumption that President Obama would regrettably agree that civilian deaths are the price we pay for protecting America.  My question is this -- why would torturing suspected al-Qaida be any different?
VOTE to the right ----------------------------------------------->


  1. A few points:

    1. No President, or any of us for that matter, should accept civilian deaths as a price we pay for war. It is unacceptable - the moment we "accept" it we condone it.

    2. Intent is what matters - we have no intent to kill civilians. We choose to torture prisoners. So which is worse: accidentally killing someone with your car or deliberately running someone over with your car and not killing them?

    In the end, it's what we choose to do that defines us. Choosing torture demeans us as a species, but it is not worse than the CHOICE to go to war that led to civilian deaths.

    This question is loaded and presents a logical fallacy: false dichotomy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dichotomy

    You can't logically conclude that it's better or worse to torture compared to inadvertent killing.

  2. In response to above comment

    A President may not accept civilian casualties but the reality in conventional war is that it WILL happen.

    US intent with interrogation was to get information NOT to torture.

    We assume that in every military situation where civilians are present that bombings are called off. Do we know that for sure?

    In your example, people are killed whether they are accidentally or deliberately run over. The authorized tortures were not intended to kill anybody. (of course there were cases of unauthorized and authorized torture where people did die).

    If torture is wrong, then why has President Obama not chosen to have the justice department go after members of the CIA who carried it out?

    In most circumstances torture would demean us but isn't there a logical fallacy in saying that our only choice is yes or no at all times?
    Could you conceive of a situation where even you would torture?

    You are correct that the question is loaded and does indeed present a false dichotomy but I believe it does so purposefully as a tool to encourage people to think.

    Besides which hurts less -- torture or killing?

  3. Torture was not done to protect Americans - it was done to further the Bush agenda. It was and is illegal. It doesn't matter if it works or not. Collateral civilian deaths in an unjustified war are also wrong. A question like. "Would you use torture to save thousands of lives?" is not valid. Obeying the law or holding to your principals only counts in difficult situations. Lawbreakers always use dire circumstances to justify their crime. Is it OK to kill and steal if you are doing so to feed your starving family? S Americans don't do it. We are better than that. When we do, we are no better that the terrorists we are fighting. I don't want agents of my country conducting torture in my name. My concern is selfish, I'm not concerned with the person being tortured - I'm more concerned about what torture does to we as a people when we condone it. I'm rambling, sorry...


What the haaaaaaaaayyyyy do ya think?