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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 1, 2005 / 29 Mar-Cheshvan, 5766

The truth about torture

By Victor Davis Hanson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., recently proposed an amendment to a defense appropriations bill in an attempt to plug loopholes in already existing anti-torture laws. The amendment, which President Bush opposes, is a good idea for America — but not necessarily for the reasons cited by most critics of the administration.


Contrary to popular belief, throughout history torture has brought results — either to gain critical, sometimes lifesaving intelligence or more gratuitously to obtain embarrassing confessions from terrified captives.


The question, then, for a liberal democracy is not whether torture in certain cases is effective, but whether its value is worth the negative publicity and demoralizing effect on a consensual society that believes its cause and methods must enjoy a moral high ground far above the enemy's.


Nor can opponents of torture say that it is entirely foreign to the U.S. military experience, at least from what we know of it even in so-called good wars like World War II. There were American soldiers — sometimes in furor over the loss of comrades, sometimes to obtain critical information — who executed or tortured captured Japanese and German prisoners. Those who did so operated on a de facto "don't ask, don't tell" understanding, occasionally found it effective and were rarely punished by commanding officers. Even so, G.I.s never descended to the levels of depravity common in the Wehrmacht or the Soviet and Imperial Japanese armies.


There is also not much to the argument that our employment of torture will only embolden the enemy to barbarously treat Americans held captive. What a silly idea! Captured Americans have already been filmed being beheaded — or shot or burned — and their mutilated corpses hung up for public ridicule.


We know from both its professed creed and its conduct in the field that al-Qaida cares nothing for civilized behavior. Its barbarism is innate, not predicated on any notion of reciprocity. Beheading and torturing prisoners occurred before the sexual humiliation so amply photographed at Abu Ghraib. U.S. soldiers already grasp what surrendering to al-Qaida terrorists would mean; they've seen other Westerners appearing hooded and in jumpsuits on the Internet before losing their heads to choruses of "Allah Akhbar."


Others argue that by employing torture we will only earn the censure of the liberal, especially European, world. Maybe so, but once again, Europe, the United Nations and international human-rights groups, for reasons that transcend the war in Iraq, will fault the United States no matter what it does.


Castigating our misdemeanors, while mostly ignoring the felonies of real barbarians, seems to ensure these sidelined utopians a sense of easy moral smugness. We see that in regard to Guantanamo Bay. Europeans fixate on American interrogations of captive murderous terrorists but remain silent about thousands who have been killed, tortured or forgotten in Fidel Castro's gulag a few miles away. Iran, North Korea, Serbia and Saddam's Iraq tortured and executed tens of thousands without much fear that either the United Nations or the Europeans would spend their own lives and treasure to stop such endemic barbarism.


There is also a danger that once we try to quantify precisely what constitutes torture, we could, in the ensuing utopian debate, define anything from sleep deprivation to loud noise as unacceptable. Indeed, we might achieve the unintended effect of only creating disdain for our moral pretensions from incarcerated terrorists. They would have no worries of suffering pain but plenty of new demands on their legalistic hosts, from ethnically correct meals to proper protocols in handling their Korans.


So we might as well admit that by foreswearing the use of torture, we will probably be at a disadvantage in obtaining key information and perhaps endanger American lives here at home. (And, ironically, those who now allege that we are too rough will no doubt decry "faulty intelligence" and "incompetence" should there be another terrorist attack on an American city.) Our restraint will not ensure any better treatment for our own captured soldiers. Nor will our allies or the United Nations appreciate American forbearance. The terrorists themselves will probably treat our magnanimity with disdain, as if we were weak rather than good.


But all that is precisely the risk we must take in supporting the McCain amendment — because it is a public reaffirmation of our country's ideals. The United States can win this global war without employing torture. That we will not resort to what comes so naturally to Islamic terrorists also defines the nobility of our cause, reminding us that we need not and will not become anything like our enemies.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and military historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Comment by clicking here.


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