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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Way We Approach

March 9th, 2010

It seems hard to believe that the American nation has become so inured to the subject of torture that we no longer discuss whether it is moral but rather how much is too much. The voices of reason, and frankly the voices of actual military men and women with experience, need to rise and come together more than ever before. 
Captured on their way to Gauntanamo 2005 copyright Reuters

As I work on the follow up to part one of my series on torture, I have been accumulating a somewhat substantial library on the ethics of warfare. The American Traditionalists have the apologists over a barrel but it continues to be their very reasonableness that resonates less in the whiz-bang news cycle. Reason is, in it's essence, not sound bite ready. That is why the attack we Traditionalists need to make (and I do not use the word attack casually) needs to be as relentless as the savagery of those who oppose it.

However, it is also essential, as we move forward, to remember that dogma is the enemy of analysis. I recently found a pearl of wisdom from an seemingly unlikely source. As a note to all, and without meaning to be glib, this is a more common occurrence when one frequently seeks out the rationale of one's opposition rather than trawling for gaffes.

Frederick Kagan is a Neo-Conservative who has been, at times, another Bush apologist with no military experience and a diplomatic/governmental background that gave him absolutely zero exposure to Middle Eastern culture or strategy prior to our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many readers learned how much he "doesn't know" in what I can only describe as a regrettable hatchet piece from the DailyKos, an activist website whose goals I usually share.

From Frederick Kagan's, "War and Aftermath":

"It is a fundamental mistake to see the enemy as a set of targets. The enemy in war is a group of people. Some of them will have to be killed. Others will have to be captured or driven into hiding. The overwhelming majority, however, have to be persuaded." 

There is a great deal more in this work to be applauded. His goals may be suspect but, as is sometimes the case, his analyses of the moral principles that ultimately achieve long term peace are correct.

Were I content to be a simple dogmatist, I would have overlooked him at best. At worst, I would have scanned briefly, stopping only to find some flawed politic to tear my teeth into.

So I have a simple set of requests. If your are a Liberal, watch more FOX. If you are a Conservative, watch more MSNBC. If you are, as I would hope, developing a distaste for major issues being "examined" in five minutes or less, for the love of God, read more.

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