Torture? Fuhgedaboudit. Easier to just kill 'em

In other words, you support terrorism, as long as it’s American terrorism.

And what makes you assume that it’s mostly killing militants? Or that it does anything but create more enemies faster than it kills them?

:rolleyes: And of course it has nothing at all with the fact that we are murdering them indiscriminately.

How would you know that? If US intelligence doesn’t even know the identity of the victims, how could they (let alone how could you) state they’re mostly killing militants? What proves that the system isn’t so flawed that 90% of the targets are unrelated with any terrorist activity?

We don’t really have any way of knowing that. And just because something is easy to do doesn’t make it right. Sure, this is better than the invasion of Iraq, but that should not be the yardstick we measure goodness by.

Probably? You’re OK with killing someone because they “probably” share some ideology with our enemies?

On what basis do you make that claim?

What I’m distressed by is the idea that the unusual actions a nation takes when it is at war now becomes SOP because we’re always at war. That’s a dangerous mindset.

In most cases this is simply not true. al Qaeda isn’t even a coherent organization and it certainly doesn’t have coherent goals. It’s a loose affiliation of actors, many of whom have no interest outside their own territory.

Well, we’re doing a hell of job of validating that narrative. That’s part of the problem.

I’m not arguing that we should stop fighting against those who actually threaten us.

Congratulations! You’ve just described the US military and every US police force!

My problem with torture, one of many problems actually, is that when you torture, you’re 100% in control and can therefore try other strategies, ones that work or ones that are more humane. Often on the field of battle, you control only a bit of the battlefield and even less of the information. It is literally impossible to decide the loyalties and motivations of a hundred people running around in the back alleys of a city. A little bit of collateral damage, when justified by rigorous intelligence and regulations on the rules of engagement, is ok under some circumstances. While killing is back, I personally consider torture more morally reprehensible.

When you torture, you’re basically saying that you’re going to do the worst possible thing even though you have the choice not too. Its completely unlike an active battlefield, where often you don’t have choices and you make decisions based on the knowledge and power that you have. So while in battle, you may accidentally become bad through poor choices, as a torturer, you’re choosing it. That’s why its worse

I actually had a bit in that post tying it to the recent issues around Police killings of young black men, but decided it wasn’t worth the derail into that topic since there are already so many threads about it. But yes, there are eery similarities.

I suppose there isn’t a lot of value in debating which is worse, because they’re both bad. Let’s just say that of all the people we tortured, one died. Of all the people we “signature struck”, pretty much all of them died.

And let’s keep this in perspective. European countries have a lot more to fear from Islamic Extremists than the US does, and yet we’re the ones bombing the shit out of the places.

You don’t understand. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

We don’t have to debate it but I think torture is worse, for the reasons I’ve stated above. I can see the logic in signature strikes, given the target. There is no logic that we have to torture, absolutely none, and no logic that allows torturers to get away with what they’ve done

So when do we start the domestic signature strike program? Would everyone be OK with that? Or are there no suspicious looking Americans?

I first heard the term last Sunday on Meet The Press. After spending the first part of the show becoming enraged at DICK Cheney, I wrapped up the show being pissed off at President Obama.

We already do that. We just use cops instead of drones to kill random Scary Black Men and Suspicious Brown People.

Stop and frisk used signatures but was almost always nonlethal.

One of the many weird aspects of this conversation. Democratic administrations are actually rather hawkish, by basically any standard outside of the US. I wouldn’t quite say that we live in a military state, but I think it’s fair to characterize it as a militaristic one.

Hell, I’m pretty hawkish by world standards -eg I think the US for now is a necessary hegemon- and I’m somewhat more dovish than your typical Democratic administration. One of many problems is that our peace wing doesn’t interface very well with the national security establishment.

Cite, please?

A large majority of the studies performed on the topic support the idea that mostly militants are being killed. They’re listed in Wikipedia under the drone program in Pakistan. What I think I can be reasonably certain of is that the methods of acquiring these numbers are not very precise or accurate and exaggerated by both sides of the argument.

‘Easier’ was a poor term. What I appreciate about the program is that it seems to be effective while becoming less expensive to operate over time. It’s cost is balanced against our economy while promoting our goals.

I am willing to live with it given the circumstances we are in. I would much prefer that the only American presence in these places were tourists, not drones spreading fear among thugs and innocents alike, but I am willing to live with it because I am not willing to give terrorist organizations another opportunity to effectively plan another 9/11 or any of the other bombings that occurred before and after. I am happy to take in any of the innocents stuck in these awful places as refugees.

Roughly every chaotic place in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia is spawning militant Muslim terrorist organizations that dominate these places. Then either these groups or groups utilizing they’re territory attack the USA. They do it without regard to how we do or do not interfere with them. It’s just part of their game plan; I think it’s a way to get famous and enhance recruitment.

I would prefer more transparent oversight of these programs because many of them have led to abuse, but we will be doing this for a long time to come. Just ask Russia, Turkey, China, Israel, Colombia, and so on, but these insurgencies can come to an end without prejudging what that end is and unilaterally declaring it. In the meantime, we can do our best to make sure our approach fits our values. That is why Iraq and our use of torture or so awful to me. These represent abuses that would never had occurred if we stuck with what we at least say we view as right and wrong.

But many of those who work with them do.

We’ll always validate their narrative no matter what we do. We should just worry about keeping them weak at low cost to ourselves.

Well, sure, but part and parcel to that, decreasing the number of our sworn enemies, is not making more of them. Kill somebody’s cousin who actually is an enemy of America, good chance he will follow the ethic of blood feud and swear revenge. Bad enough.

But kill the innocent cousin of somebody who might not yet be our enemy, or maybe even might be persuaded to help us…

Leaving aside the morality, there’s still an open question as to the overall effectiveness of these drone attacks. Even if you accept the claim that they’re killing mostly militants, we still don’t know if their existence is creating more militants than they’re eliminating. If we kill ten militants and eleven take their place, we’re losing.

This indicates where we need to start putting more resources. Yes, we need to fight the terrorists that now exist. But in the long run, we need to change the conditions that produce terrorists. That’s the only way we’ll really win this war.

It’s an asymetric situation. We can never weaken them to the point where they can’t attack us back. Terrorism is a tactic that the weak can use against the strong.

Unless we’re taking 15-20 years between attacks - allowing each terrorist time to create and raise a future terrorist to take his place - by my math if you have killed 10 terrorists and discover 11 more, then originally there were 21 terrorists and you’ve successfully halved their number.

What makes you think that the drones strikes will do anything but help any such “terrorist” organizations? What is your argument against them committing terrorism when we are committing terrorism against them like this?

And what makes you think that any innocents are going to be safer to take in than any “terrorists”, given that you’ve declared yourself to be their mortal enemy and support killing them, their friend and their family? You’re giving them perfectly reasonable motivations to want vengeance upon you.

Innocents are not harmless when you’re the bad guys, and we are.

That attitude just shows how much we dehumanize everyone outside our borders. We’re not even willing to admit that they have human emotions, that they might be angry with us for slaughtering their friends and families. No; they are inhuman, mechanical hate machines who hate us exactly the same no matter what we do.

And you are repeating many of the same arguments that have been used to support torture.

:dubious: Do you think that terrorists are grown in pods from fetuses or something? What makes you think it would take more than months or weeks to find more “terrorists”?

And what makes you think that killing 10 “terrorists” won’t create a hundred or a thousand?

Not sure we can say that first sentence is true. “Sworn enemies” have families, too, and there is no reason to believe that all of them are already on the other side.

Despite the talk of breeding terrorists, that’s just a metaphor. People don’t need to be raised from birth to be a terrorist. They can convert to being a terrorist at any age. So if you kill ten terrorists in a community, eleven of their friends and relatives who had not been terrorists can convert in response to the deaths.