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No, It Wasn’t FOCA…

January 22, 2009

Obama’s first priority: ending the regime of torture and indefinite detention:

“President Obama signed executive orders Thursday directing the Central Intelligence Agency to shut what remains of its network of secret prisons and ordering the closing of the Guantánamo detention camp within a year, government officials said… And the orders bring to an end a Central Intelligence Agency program that kept terrorism suspects in secret custody for months or years, a practice that has brought fierce criticism from foreign governments and human rights activists. They will also prohibit the C.I.A. from using coercive interrogation methods, requiring the agency to follow the same rules used by the military in interrogating terrorism suspects, government officials said.”

This is huge news, especially the last point. By restricting the CIA to military interrogation techniques, this spells an end to the gestapo-inspired “enhanced interrogration techniques” that constitute “torments to the mind and body” and are thus intrinsically evil.

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53 Comments
  1. January 22, 2009 3:07 pm

    Everything you’ve heard is nothing compared to the reality. A friend was a prison guard in Guantanamo and Iraq. Beatings are just the hors d’oeuvres. Not to mention what happens before people land in prisons, somewhere in the middle of the desert (that is, if they make it out of there). She can’t forget nor forgive herself for what was done to people. Add to that getting hit by an IED and she got herself a lovely case of PTSD. Don’t approach her from behind. Gets nervous seeing Arabic looking people on cellphones, and so forth. I guess even the government is ashamed, as they’re paying her quite a bit.

    You just don’t hear about it in the media. And no, those weren’t “exceptions” by a few “rotten apples”. The few people who got convicted because of Abu Ghraib and such were fall guys, sacrificed so as to distract from the policies employed in treating those “who hate us because we’re free.”

    At least Bush didn’t compromise his soul. Sadly, he won’t be on trial for “war crimes” (an odd term, isn’t it).

  2. January 22, 2009 3:13 pm

    “By restricting the CIA to military interrogation techniques”

    And that’s “restriction” ? Yikes. Since the military’s already horrid (in reality), one doesn’t even want to imagine what the CIA does.

  3. January 22, 2009 3:26 pm

    This is fantastic news.

  4. January 22, 2009 3:41 pm

    Well, if they are going to put the detainees in secret CIA prisons, then this means nothing. We need to know what they’re going to do with the prisoners.

  5. ben permalink
    January 22, 2009 3:41 pm

    All people of good will can rejoice at this news.

  6. alex martin permalink
    January 22, 2009 3:46 pm

    I noticed you did not publish the President’s reversal of the ‘Mexico City Policy’. Interesting omission.

  7. January 22, 2009 3:50 pm

    Katerina

    Obama is ordering the shutting down of the secret prisons. Of course, one could suggest we will never know, because they are secret. But at least in theory, it makes a statement which is important.

    Alex Martin: Did he actually do it? Can you find a news source which said he did? I’ve read conflicting rumors of that. Though I do think he will do so, in the end. Sadly.

  8. FOF permalink
    January 22, 2009 3:52 pm

    Inersting executive order, but what if Karl Rove or Rick Santorum were being held in a “secret” CIA prison and were being torured…would this constitute “torments to the mind and body” and are thus intrinsically evil.

  9. David Nickol permalink
    January 22, 2009 3:53 pm

    Well, if they are going to put the detainees in secret CIA prisons, then this means nothing. We need to know what they’re going to do with the prisoners.

    Katerina,

    The quoted article says, “President Obama signed executive orders Thursday directing the Central Intelligence Agency to shut what remains of its network of secret prisons . . . “

  10. alex martin permalink
    January 22, 2009 3:56 pm

    “Did he actually do it? Can you find a news source which said he did? I’ve read conflicting rumors of that. Though I do think he will do so, in the end. Sadly.”

    I googled ‘Mexico City Policy’ and was provided a link to a WhiteHouse.org post about it that, upon clicking, is now gone. I’ve emailed the host of the site and requested some information about the oddity.

  11. January 22, 2009 3:59 pm

    Katerina, the military is a world unto its own. Even a president can only do so much – he’s not in the field, where the rules aren’t quite the rules and whistleblowers scarce. Its ultimate protection is the fact that no one wants to rat on his buddies. It also helps that many vicious people join the military since killing “sand niggers” is fun. Just look at smiling American soldiers next to dead, half-rotten Iraqis. If killing’s fun, torturing comes easy. This CIA/military distinction is rather artificial, the former being even worse isn’t exactly a badge of honor for military modus operandi.

    Every soldier is a professionally trained murderer, every drill sergeant an agitator for murder, every pilot a professional bomb-dropper, every army a band of terrorists. That they may at times fight against worse systems does not change the nature. That there are worse armies does not change the basic nature of every army. The military’s intention is to break people and turn them into killing machines who ask no questions. In brief, military is evil.

  12. Joe permalink
    January 22, 2009 4:14 pm

    Maybe more nuanced than you’re letting on.

    What I look for: Language to please his supporters, with nuances and things unsaid to meet the demands of reality.

    “euters reports:

    President Barack Obama’s choice to head the CIA declined on Thursday to call waterboarding “torture,” only days after his attorney general nominee condemned the interrogation practice as precisely that.

    Retired Adm. Dennis Blair replied cautiously when pressed on the waterboarding question at a hearing on his nomination to be director of national intelligence….

    “There will be no waterboarding on my watch. There will be no torture on my watch,” Blair said, refusing to go further.

    Note that Blair has been nominated for the job of DCI, not head of the CIA. At CIA Obama has nominated Leon Panetta, whose righteous indignation over torture extends only as far as American sovereignty. Panetta was more than happy to allow our Egyptian “allies” to use such coercive measures when he was Clinton’s chief of staff and signing off on that administration’s rendition program.

    This isn’t mere semantics — serious people understand that there are consequences to turning campaign rhetoric into policy, and that sometimes bad things need to be done in order to ensure a good outcome. In this case Blair’s language was calibrated to avoid accusing the people who will soon work for him of war crimes, but if he thought what they did was criminal than why wouldn’t he say it? Lofty principles won’t keep this country safe, contra Robert Gibbs, but perhaps the left will refuse to accept this “false choice” and force Obama to throw Blair under the bus.”

  13. January 22, 2009 4:26 pm

    “sometimes bad things need to be done in order to ensure a good outcome.” Consequentialism. See John Paul II, Veritatis Splendour, on why this is an unacceptable philosophical position.

  14. January 22, 2009 4:39 pm

    Consequentialism -isn’t that what Catholicism think God does ? Supposedly, “he” permits evil so a greater good can come from it, no ? An upside to the Holocaust, if you will, a greater good worth it taking place. If this an accurate description, do you (Catholics) not have a problem in a Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi manner ? Ok for God, but not for mortals ?

  15. David Raber permalink
    January 22, 2009 4:44 pm

    Gerald, if you are going to say that any military is evil, you might as well say that any police force is evil. The fact that either exist is a result of the fallen nature of our world, i.e., they would not exist if not for evil, and are prone to evil in ways that other institutions are not–and yet I wonder if people liberated from Nazi oppression by allied forces in World War II would tell you that all armies are evil or any army is an inherently evil thing.

    Probably we don’t disagree fundamentally, unless you want to say that a military vocation cannot be an honorable thing, and a Christian cannot be a good Christian and a soldier at the same time, because I certainly don’t believe that.

  16. January 22, 2009 4:44 pm

    Consequentialism -isn’t that what Catholicism think God does ? Supposedly, “he” permits evil so a greater good can come from it, no ?

    Indeed, many Catholics believe that sort of thing, but it’s bad theology.

  17. January 22, 2009 4:46 pm

    David – I imagine Gerald sees a distinction between the police and the military, as does Catholic social teaching.

  18. Policraticus permalink*
    January 22, 2009 4:50 pm

    I noticed you did not publish the President’s reversal of the ‘Mexico City Policy’. Interesting omission.

    That’s because he hasn’t reversed the policy.

  19. Policraticus permalink*
    January 22, 2009 4:51 pm

    Supposedly, “he” permits evil so a greater good can come from it, no ?

    I am not aware of this being a standard Catholic view of the problem of evil. This seems more in line with the Protestant versions of theodicy.

  20. Joe permalink
    January 22, 2009 5:27 pm

    More nuance:

    (From the NYTimes)

    ut the orders leave unresolved complex questions surrounding the closing of the Guantánamo prison, including whether, where and how many of the detainees are to be prosecuted. They could also allow Mr. Obama to reinstate the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation operations in the future, by presidential order, as some have argued would be appropriate if Osama bin Laden or another top-level leader of Al Qaeda were captured.

    The new White House counsel, Gregory B. Craig, briefed lawmakers about some elements of the orders on Wednesday evening. A Congressional official who attended the session said Mr. Craig acknowledged concerns from intelligence officials that new restrictions on C.I.A. methods might be unwise and indicated that the White House might be open to allowing the use of methods other than the 19 techniques allowed for the military.

    So, in other words, there is no principle involved. I mean, honestly – what does that last sentence mean and why isn’t it highlighted in this post???

  21. grega permalink
    January 22, 2009 5:27 pm

    Gerald – please…
    We as Austrian/German Residents here in this ver y fine free country should be rather grateful that very fine American Soldiers
    safed our ‘glorious cultured european societies from ourselves.
    Soldiers are sometimes very much needed to defeat evil.
    You know it.

  22. January 22, 2009 5:35 pm

    Soldiers are sometimes very much needed to defeat evil.

    More often, though, soldiers are the instruments of evildoers.

    You know it.

  23. January 22, 2009 5:56 pm

    Well, it’s not that easy, grega. 50% of Vienna bombed into rabble, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden…where is the point where you destroy the village to save it ? When does the one fighting the monster become a monster ?

    Military per se is an organization designed to turn people into killing machines by breaking them, to follow orders without question. In order to enjoy being in the military, one has to be either brainwashed or a sociopath.

    No war ever started was justified. Defense is understandable, but where does it end ? Not to mention that almost every war ever waged was waged because of malice and greed on BOTH sides.

    The USA wages perpetual war for peace, thereby incurring ever more and new enemies. Spending half of the world’s military expenses – and for what ? There is a reason no one runs around screaming “Death to Canada”.

    The fact that slaughtering millions of people may keep others from slaughtering a few millions more isn’t exactly something to glorify. Most people in the Wehrmacht were there because otherwise they would have been executed. My grandfather didn’t want to be in the war, he never liked Hitler, he was a union guy. Yet, he could easily have been killed by my wife’s grandfather. So, when we speak of “the enemy”, the individuals who get caught in the death trap are basically forgotten. My grandmother wasn’t “the enemy”, yet she was 50 feet short of being killed by an American bomb.

    Military can achieve lesser evils, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a soul-killing institution that makes murderers out of men and women – whether they actually murder people is a question of time and place. But, that is what they are trained for and what is expected. And, lest they are sociopaths, they carry the horrors they saw – and perpetrated – for the rest of their lives, as I know from several people who bought into this whole Semper Fi, Army of One crap. In absence of a militaristic culture, war is far less likely. Of course terrorists have to be caught, but 8 years in Afghanistan didn’t exactly achieve much. Aside from a “surgical” strike, military action is the perfect way to recruit people to the terrorists’ ranks.

    My whole family, foreign and domestic, agrees that if the USA brings back the draft, and there are members of that age, we’re outta here.

  24. Knuckle Dragger permalink
    January 22, 2009 6:41 pm

    Boy, I feel safer.

  25. Redfly permalink
    January 22, 2009 9:05 pm

    My whole family, foreign and domestic, agrees that if the USA brings back the draft, and there are members of that age, we’re outta here.

    I can think of no better reason to bring back the draft. Please, God, let it happen!

  26. S.B. permalink
    January 22, 2009 11:30 pm

    Here’s a smart lawyer who pays more attention to substance than to fluff, and points out that the Gitmo closing is practically meaningless: http://sandefur.typepad.com/freespace/2009/01/closing-guantanamo-meaning-what-exactly.html

  27. digbydolben permalink
    January 23, 2009 12:08 am

    If the United States had remained true to the intentions of its Founders regarding relationships with foreign peoples and had never gone in search of quarrels, and had only used its military forces to defend the American soil as well as the true interests of her average people (as opposed to the plutocrats’ interests), I seriously doubt that Gerald would have said what he just did.

    As for all the references to the “good war,” please remember that that “good war” was, in actuality, merely a continuation of World War I, a war whose unjust and wasteful conclusion was CAUSED by America’s totally unnecessary, ill-considered and rather racist determination to participate in it. If World War I had concluded as it should have–with land-swaps, “conditional” surrenders and NO “reparations,” there would not have been a Nazi Germany. Some of you should just ask yourselves what your Irish ancestors must have thought about the Anglophile Wilson’s fabrication of a “case” for America’s entry into that butchery on the side of that cruel colonial power, the British Empire; it was very much like Dubya-idiot’s recent double-cross of his own people regarding Iraq.

    The only decent leader of a nation during the “Great War” was the saintly Carl of Austria, who is about to be CANONIZED, my dear Catholics, for his heroic sanctity, as well as his fruitless efforts to appease the ferocious war-mongers (including the American Anglophile bigot Wilson) and for his efforts to follow his Pope’s (Benedict XV’s) counsel to conclude the “great war” with major concessions to his opponents–concessions which they refused to accept.

  28. January 23, 2009 10:02 am

    Nothing like “experts” who are completely ignorant of a subject yet they claim enough knowledge to declare it evil. I wonder how much time some of these commenters have served in the military? None would be my guess. However, with zero first hand knowledge they can declare them evil.

  29. no bechamel please permalink
    January 23, 2009 10:13 am

    So…torture is over except it will be wider quantitatively soon for preborns…..and this is a good thing??

  30. grega permalink
    January 23, 2009 10:15 am

    Gerald –
    so much bluster – give me a break.
    What gives you an austrian philosophy/political science graduate with no military experience and a family history of jumping around religiously/ideologicaly the insights to make your sweeping assertions?
    digbydolben, I am surprised you advocate for american isolationalism – in my view you also give my germanic countrymen too much credit –
    certainly lot’s of blame to go around for WWI -this is however no excuse to
    royally screwed up and drive that country and a good part of the world into the abyss. All while America elected a great democratic leader to tackle the deep economic troubles of the great depression and face down facism and communism.
    Americans can and should be proud about how they mastered the challenges of the times. I am glad the Americans helped to defeat the Kaiser in WWI- that way we got rid of the nobles in germany and had the first real glimpse of democracy. Americans can and should be proud to have elected this very fine President Obama – a proud tradition to get tit right after all continues in my view.

  31. digbydolben permalink
    January 23, 2009 11:16 am

    Grega, I certainly do NOT “advocate for isolationism”; what George Washington “advocated for” in his Farewell Address was NOT “isolationism”; I’m all for HEAVY involvement in international commerce and trade. What I’m NOT for is attempting to right wrongs that are none of the business of the great mass of American citizens.

    I am definitely not so pacifist as Gerald is, and I honour the military profession, whose “calling” is, as John Ruskin put it, to “die for their country.” However, I can sympathise with Gerald’s very European attitude, since, historically, the noble profession of arms has been misused continuously ever since principles of chivalry, “limited war,” and “just war teachings” became laughingstocks among bourgeois, Protestantised barbarians who consider it appropriate to propogandise their citizenry into a state of mind that demonizes all opponents and puts state and sovereign-worship above true religion.

    And, Grega, you consider Weimar Germany and its rule by industrialists, plutocrats and, sometimes, Communists, to be a “true democracy”? Emperor Carl of Austria was, at heart, more of “democrat” than they were. And Wilson (not Franklin Roosevelt–I wasn’t talking about HIM) was almost as much of a racist and ethnocentric bigot as any of the Klansmen of his day were.

  32. grega permalink
    January 23, 2009 12:51 pm

    digbydolben,
    I do not know about the merits and pitfalls of Wilson persona certainly if we liberally apply todays ‘insights’ to yesterdays leaders we can find so much blame to go around-
    heck the Founding Fathers were very much men of their time – certainly no Saints.
    Yet these imperfect men proceeded to generate the strong foundation that has served this country rather well over all.
    I think the current fundamentally sound office holder Obama has the potential to serve this country very well. Obama is a much sturdier and in many ways (certainly in his personal values) conservative person than many on the left and right thought – or are willing to give him credit for.
    Obama is a pretty tough guy – one does not excel academically and personally the way he did without grit,determination and deep seated inner strength.
    I found this weeks Frontline documentary in many ways helpful to recognize that -he very much was not naive about the way to the top.
    He is clear on torture but equally clear that women do have the right according to our current laws here in the US to terminate unwanted pregnacies.
    Let’s not be naive -Obama will change course on Abortion related issues in a way that will not sit well with many of us – I think some of the catholic liberals set themself up for disappointment to not recognize this clearly.
    I very much welcomed his “Give Science it’s rightful place”.
    Here alone definite change is in the making from the previous administration relating to the more controversial issues we like to tiptoe around as liberal catholics.
    I trust between Obama, his administration, congress and the voice of the american people (through Polls and elections) we will find a reasonable middle ground.

  33. Robert M permalink
    January 23, 2009 1:24 pm

    Digby, I won’t presume to know your background in the history, but your characterization of the ‘Anglophile Wilson’ who couldn’t wait to bring the US into the war on the side of the UK is very much at odds with most of what I’ve studied on the subject. In fact Wilson was the number one proponant of the ‘peace without victory’ approach – the very one you claim it ‘should have’ ended as.
    And I never thought Michael I would sound more sensible to me than Gerald, but the world is full of surprises these days. I suppose it’s the meds.
    RM

  34. January 23, 2009 1:31 pm

    There’s nothing noble about the military. not to mention that the last time it was used to achieve a lesser evil/greater good was World War II- and the cure was almost as bad as the poison. The USA hasn’t waged a defensible war since (Afghanistan being justifiable, but certainly not after over eight years)

    One need not have a military background to reject military values, drill etc. Sure it can achieve lesser evils but the system is sick at its core. How can anyone defend what is done in boot camp, not to mention in the field when there are no embedded journalists around. I know plenty of people with PTSD. I’d think a Christian would reject the dehumanizing training and its goal. Oh, the early Christians did. Who would Jesus nuke ? Sure it’s legit to take out a terrorist camp but that’s not exactly what’s being done. Not to mention that American military ubiquity is the reason why it draws lunatics’ special attention and keeps creating it’s own enemies.

    There is no such thing as dying for your country (ask soldiers what they’re willing to die for – it’s their comrades – neither should be there). What’s “my country” ? An artificial distinction based on random place of birth and the blood of those from whom the land was taken. Soldiers in Iraq are not serving “their country”, quite the opposite. “support our troops” – I was unaware I had an army. supporting them means keeping them dying and killing – with support like that….

    Soldiers die for a living. Soldiers kill for a living.

  35. c matt permalink
    January 23, 2009 1:34 pm

    It would be great to give science its rightful place. Right now, it is way too high on the totem pole. It needs to be taken down a notch or three. Somewhere along the line, we let science become our master rather than our servant.

  36. January 23, 2009 1:41 pm

    I’m half an hour from Canada here. Guess who has healthcare and who spends half the worlds military costs. Whose skyscraper was attacked, who keeps starting wars. of course if the USA didn’t have the south, it’d be pretty peaceful, too. Few in NorCal supported Bush’s war. In a special irony it’s the “loudest” Christians who make up much of the military. just look at CO Air Force academy. Praise the lord and pass the ammunition.

  37. Robert M permalink
    January 23, 2009 2:14 pm

    Gerald you are increasingly incoherent. The substance of your ‘argument’ (and I agree there is some) is buried in the rant.
    If all you know about ‘boot camp’ is second hand, I recommend you reserve judgement about ‘what goes on there’. For everyone you know who told you how ‘dehumanizing’ it was, I am sure I know at least one for whom it quite literally saved their life or got them on track to a decent, far more ‘human’ (and humane) existance. Your sweeping generalizations and categorical statements are both unfounded and irrational.
    I agree there are problems with the military and in particular I have problems with America’s fetishization of it. But your spouting a lot of uninformed nonsense here.
    And if you are unable to determine the distinction between a ‘soldier’ and a ‘killer’, there’s not much point in listening to the rest of it.
    RM

  38. January 23, 2009 2:22 pm

    And if you are unable to determine the distinction between a ’soldier’ and a ‘killer’, there’s not much point in listening to the rest of it.

    My “cousin-in-law”‘s brother, real nice guy, returned from Marines training only to brag to his family that they had turned him into a “killing machine.” He was proud of it.

    Maybe he didn’t get the distinction either.

  39. grega permalink
    January 23, 2009 2:27 pm

    Science “Right now, it is way too high on the totem pole. It needs to be taken down a notch or three.” Really?
    In my view we have it about right as a society.
    At it’s core Science is about the deep seated human desire to discover – obviously our creator knew what he was doing letting us develop into creatures with conscience and a brain. Pondering and probing the unknown and ever so modestly enhancing our knowledge – a very appealing and wonderful activity indeed. Philosophy and Theology are about the very same notion by the way – and in my view not opposing poles to Science at all but complimantary.
    Let us not forget we are only able to communicate here on the web the way we are because of Science.
    But sure some are actively pursuing a path that in essence elevates Science to a Religion. Not the end of the world in my view- just another variation to the general theme.
    Our particular take on Religion is only 2000 years young – Christianity has proven to be modestly successful in attracting followers and was in no small part partly instrumental in fostering the type of culture that lead to Science as we know it today.
    Our societies idea of individualism and freedom ensures that Science will continue too blossom.
    I do not know about you C Matt but I will try to raise my children to appreciate both the”hard” Sciences as well as appreciate pursuits of Literature, Philosophy and Religion and other ‘softer’ sciences.

  40. January 23, 2009 2:40 pm

    My little brother became a Marine at the age of 18. He joined because a lot of guys he respected did service, and he wanted to be apart of something larger than himself.

    He is not brainwashed or psychopathic. He complains about his superiors the way the typical person does. He calls his own 2 dogs, a cat, and a pair of goldfish, and he talks motherese to them all. He has no religion, although he does believe that Jesus is God. My sister taught him how to say the “Our Father” last year.

    I think the things you say about military members, Gerald Naus, are simply a result of your ignorance. If you don’t interact with a certain group of people, it’s easy to believe all kinds of things about them.

    Soldiers are like cops, or lawyers. Everyone loves to hate them, until they need them.

  41. Robert M permalink
    January 23, 2009 2:48 pm

    “Maybe he didn’t get the distinction either.”

    Sure sounds like he didn’t. Happy to introduce him any time to any number of Marines I know who do.

    Your “cousin-in-law’s brother’s” inability to understand the distinction, while evidence of either his own ignorance or failure on the part of his trainers, nevertheless tells us nothing about whether or not such a distinction exists. Since I can produce any number of equal anecdotal examples of people who have gone through the same experience who do understand it, perhaps it would be more prudent to avoid the sweeping generalizations and just concede that it’s not quite as black and white as you think.
    RM

  42. January 23, 2009 2:57 pm

    Since I can produce any number of equal anecdotal examples of people who have gone through the same experience who do understand it, perhaps it would be more prudent to avoid the sweeping generalizations and just concede that it’s not quite as black and white as you think.

    I wasn’t aware that I made a generalization. I believe my comment remained quite particular and concrete.

  43. Robert M permalink
    January 23, 2009 3:22 pm

    Then you would agree that it is quite possible that there is a distinction between ‘soldier’ and ‘killer’? And that your relation’s experience is proof of nothing categorical in that regard, pther than the fact that it is possible not to perceive the distinction, either through error or misinformation?
    RM

  44. January 23, 2009 3:40 pm

    and how many of those semper fi guys killed people in Iraq ? Glad to hear they are doing great. I’m not saying every soldier joins so he can kill people. But it is part if the job description – kill whoever the president deems to be the enemy. Iraq was a friend now it’s “the enemy”. Military exists to develop and train people in the most efficient and effective ways of killing people, the enemy du jour. It is precisely because the Usa has such a vast military that it keeps attacking countries. And it us precisely US military presence around the globe that creates a steady supply of enemies who “hate us because we’re free”. Perpetual war for peace. If the US didn’t have a militaristic culture it wouldn’t have the most lethal military in the world and wouldn’t start wars and wouldn’t incur ever more enemies. Like the financial collapse, this is home made. Denying that is denying reality.

  45. January 23, 2009 4:11 pm

    Then you would agree that it is quite possible that there is a distinction between ’soldier’ and ‘killer’?

    Absolutely. Christians, for example, are called to be not killers but “Soldiers of Christ,” an image that many Saints believed called them to pacifism.

    And that your relation’s experience is proof of nothing categorical in that regard, pther than the fact that it is possible not to perceive the distinction, either through error or misinformation?

    I don’t consider my experience with this one person “proof,” but combining it with my relationship with other soldiers who testify to the same tendency in the united states military, I consider it unquestioningly strong evidence that this “tendency” is not a matter of soldiers not “recognizing a distinction” through “error or misinformation” but that it is an intrinsic part of u.s military training itself. If some soldiers perceive a “distinction,” it is perhaps in spite of their training (which is a discipleship in killing) and not because of it.

  46. Robert M permalink
    January 23, 2009 4:13 pm

    Gerald,
    Some of them. And not all of them are ‘doing great’, I don’t recall saying that (though some are). For the most part they’re just people like you and me and Michael and all the rest, trying to make it through the world the best they can. But they do know what it means to be a Marine or a soldier. And you do not, however much you think you do.
    You need to dial it down a notch, I thought the drugs were supposed to help with that. If you want to make your points (which I agree have some merit) try constructing logical arguments rather then flinging invective and ranting. You have clearly very little understanding of the issue, just a strong visceral emotional reaction and overly simplistic generalizations. Laudable, but hardly persuasive. There is a decent enough case to be made for what you are arguing here, but you’re not really making it right now.
    RM

  47. Robert M permalink
    January 23, 2009 4:28 pm

    Michael,
    Thank you for clarifying. I think your characterization of military training as ‘discipleship in killing’ is very inaccurate — the military (at least in the US) has evolved considerably along with the society in general and please don’t assume that ‘Full Metal Jacket’ is in anyway remotely the ‘norm’ today. I assume you’re well-enough informed to know that.
    That said I completely agree that at least one aspect of modern military training is preparing soldiers to kill, either directly or indirectly, under certain tightly defined circumstances. Much as (in fact almost exactly as) police / law enforcement people are. This is however only one part of their ‘discipleship’, which is far more one of ‘service’ than of killing.
    I’m not justifying the lethality nor am I excusing it, but let’s not ignore the fact that a modern U.S. service person is far, far more likely to perform a humanitarian mission than kill anyone. And that at present, in the imperfect world and imperfect US, the miltiary is the only agency that can do a lot of that humanitarian stuff. It’s just not black and white. Trust me, the sociopaths or soldiers/Marines who think of themselves as ‘killing machines’ are exactly not the kind that intelligent military leaders want in their units in Iraq. WW II, yes, but that was a long time ago. Things are changing, but the military, like the Church or any big institution, takes a while to evolve.
    RM

  48. c matt permalink
    January 23, 2009 5:47 pm

    I agree with Michael that our military presence around the world is far too much. BUt then, it is our elected leaders, not the enlisted, that ultimate decide where we have a presence. So the fault for that lies more with Congress than anyone else.

  49. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    January 23, 2009 5:53 pm

    Supposedly, “he” permits evil so a greater good can come from it, no ? [Gerald]

    I am not aware of this being a standard Catholic view of the problem of evil. This seems more in line with the Protestant versions of theodicy. [Poli]

    The idea that God permits some evil, but only that greater good may come from it is a standard Catholic view of theodicy, unless you don’t count the Augustinian/Thomistic view as standard. Gerald’s most conspicuous error (his argument is flawed in other ways as well) is in equating God’s permitting of certain evils for a greater good (ST I-I, 22.2) and a human agent committing intrinsically evil actions for a supposed greater good. The distinction between ‘causing’ and ‘permitting’ is the foundation for Thomas’ distinction between God’s simple will and his permissive will. The more important distinction though, is between God’s mode of action and our own. Some have objected to this traditional teaching, and had pretty compelling reasons to do so (though I think upholding the distinction is more compelling), but Gerald’s point is compelling neither as an argument against this distinction with regard to God nor against a consequentialist ethic.

  50. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    January 23, 2009 5:56 pm

    Last line should be “for a consequentialist ethics” rather than “against a…”

  51. January 23, 2009 8:03 pm

    In my opinion, nobody can in good conscience join the American military, unless they’re willing to desert. Following orders, killing whoever a nut like Bush wants you to kill, how’s that Christian ? Or decent in general ? These volunteers have killed untold numbers of innocent people for a war without justification. How is that not immoral ? And, this will happen time and time again, given the belligerent nature of the USA. In the American military, soldiers will likely become murderers, unless they’re willing to desert.

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  1. Questions about President Obama’s executive orders on the incarceration and interrogation of detainees « The American Catholic: Politics and Culture from a Catholic perspective
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