Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ex-apologist, Reppert, and Lippard

This is not a defense or position post on the im/morality of "torture." It is a brief critique of some bad lines of argument one finds in this debate. One finds a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking in this discussion. it was an email I sent to someone. I take fodder from this combox:

These guys really have no clue about the real world, do they?

For starters, though, take Ex-apologists remark:

"When will you be making out your cut of the check to those Japanese folks we sued for waterboarding our citizens? Just wondering, ilion"

Now that's about as lame as me telling Ex-apologist that he needs to go work at a African American's house for free. Be his slave.

Or, assuming that he is pro-life, his comment is about at the level as those pro-choice advocates who say we cannot talk about the im/morality of abortion unless we're prepared to adopt all the unwanted children in the world.

On to Reppert:

"If you stimulate my brain in such a way that I experience what I would experience if someone were to put me on the rack, would it be any less torture than if you put me on the rack?"

Now that's about as ridiculous as me saying that I really smoked a cigarette because I did so in my dream. The psychology was the same. I felt relaxed, then scared because I failed at "kicking the habit." Indeed, I woke up under severe psychological distress thinking that I had failed all those people, and myself, who wanted me to quit.

Or, his comment is about as absurd as saying that there's no difference between me dreaming that I walked out on my family, as long as the same psychological features were present during that time, and my really walking out on my family.

"The obvious response to this is that it looks as if waterboarding's effectiveness as torture is diminished when you know it's being done to you by someone who isn't going to kill you."

This is simply out of touch with reality. Reppert seems to live under the delusion that these guys don't know what's going on. That they've never have been waterboarded before, or never subjected anyone to it before. And, if a solider wanted to kill you, they'd just do it. They'd shoot you, or behead you. They don't have time to just torture people for the fun of it.

"How that got to be us is what gives me such concern."

Again, Victor is simply living in his own version of Disneyland. Guess what, everyone does it. Spec Ops guys are doing work in almost every country. If they get caught, and if they don't talk, they know they'll be subjected to some uncomfortable experiences. This isn't an American phenomena.

Jim Lippard said,

"I think Victor is correct to distinguish the training circumstance (as done in SERE) from the interrogation circumstance by noting that in the former, you've given informed consent, you know that you will not be allowed to come to serious harm, that it will come to an end and that you'll be taken care of."

Again, guys who never put on a helmet in their life playing Monday Morning Quarterback. When guys do that around the water cooler, the Tom Bradys of the world laugh. When Reppert and Lippard do it, the General Patton's of the world laugh.

First, I'd suggest he read some books about what happens at SEREs school (perhaps Rouge Warrior by Marcinko). Perhaps talk to some Spec Ops guys who have went through it. And, no, not your average grunt, bullet sponge U.S. Marine who goes through the "PR" SERE school. Ask the Snake eaters. SEALs. Delta.

Second, Lippard has no clue about the psychological state these guys are in. They are sleep deprived, cold, hungry, physically beaten, and subjected to things like waterboarding. Is he asking us to believe that they're rationally deconstructing the process, thinking it's not that bad because they're going to be all right? They have instructors defecate on Bibles, the constitution, and American Flags right in front of them. They are stripped of their dignity.

This is to, prepare them to *survive.* They have to make it as real as possible. Sending our boys out into the real word with a not-so-bad-experience at SEREs is detrimental to their health! Good thing guys like Reppert and Lippard aren't training our boys!


  1. Lippard has a love/hate relationship with gov't. Gov't can't be trusted. That's why we need an omnipotent judiciary. (Gee, isn't the judiciary a branch of gov't?)

    It doesn't occur to him that an accountability mechanism is only as good as the accountant. Gov't is only as good or bad as gov't officials. The mechanism won't save us from ourselves.

    But, as a secularist, that's the best he can do.

    He's like a gambler who is dutifully playing by the rules while the casino is on fire. We musn't leave the burning casino before the other player has had a chance to place his bet. That would be unfair! That would be against the rules! Better that we all burn alive. Rules for the sake of rules.

    Bed-wetters like Lippard have no real sense of danger. As a result, they endanger all of us.

  2. "Now that's about as ridiculous as me saying that I really smoked a cigarette because I did so in my dream."

    No it isn't. If you hooked somebody up to a machine which stimulated the pain receptors in exactly the same way as placing them on the rack, would it be the same experience (in terms of the pain) as being on the rack? Yes, it would, and therefore it would be torture, even absent an actual rack.

  3. So you think I really smoked a cig. if I did so in my dream. Psychologically it was the same.