Tuesday, April 08, 2008

GKC, Just War, Torture, Law of Land Warfare, The Servile State....Oh My!

I see Inside Catholic just had an article on this same matter......

After scanning the discussions on this over at Blue Boar, and Inside Catholic, I have to say that the level of discussion is very high, well reasoned, and it is quite surprising that this issue is being discussed at its best within faith circles......whom, to use Bill O'Reilly's phrase, the Secular Progressives (SP), would see as the fundamentalist inquisitors. The strongest support for "Torture" in general, and waterboarding in particular are from those who obviously have played the card of idolatry of the state. For those who didnt read on Friday, we had a very good give and take between alot of people with alot of military experience and very well read both in faith and morals, as well as politics. I myself was involved with detainee operations in Iraq, have also served as tactical PSYOP in both Iraq and Bosnia. I worked in civilian corrections for 7 years as well.

This discussion could take place over hundreds of pages, but I think there are a few things that can be agreed on by all, there is an enormous amount of gray area for disagreement, but I think the principles and considerations to be taken into account can also be universally agreed upon, with an enormous amount of difference of opinion as to application. I think all sides must come away with very uncomfortable realizations.

First: I think we all agree that causing physical or psychological damage to innocent parties for no purpose other than the glee and psycho-sexual release of the captors is mala in se. This clearly is torture and the objectifying and dehumanizing of persons. I think we can accept this as a given.

Second(perhaps third and fourth): States do have a right to conduct military operations in certain circumstances. Part of the exercise of this function requires knowledge of the movements and plans of the other parties in the conflict. This information can be gained electronicially, through scouting, and through questioning of enemies who come into the custody of a state's forces. This I think needs to be mentioned because I think there is an unspoken thought behind some words on the political left that interrogation and questioning of prisoners, even HOLDING prisoners is unjust or inappropriate.......I actually say some things not challenging this point, but making its understanding more complicated.

Third: In an effort to bring some philosophical and legal structure to the most horrid and chaotic aspects of human existence, we have models such as Just War in philosophy, and the Geneva Conventions in International Law: Just war principle: Jus ad bellum-Just cause, comparative justice, legit authority, right intention, prob of success, last resort, proportionality. Part II is Jus in Bello - Distinction, proportionality, military necessity. The Geneva conventions are here and here. Note, and if you see this, you are understanding the situation at a level far above and beyond anybody in the US Legislative branch, the mainstream media, and certainly the Democratic Party-----the Geneva Conventions "dont apply" to the situation we find ourselves in. I will admit that line has been used politically by the administration. However, just as raw jurisprudence, it is still true. The GCs are written around a WWII type of situation. The war on terror(bad term, I know), is already a very gray area since we are dealing with groups that exist on the fringes of being paramilitary organizations, organized crime groups, and multinational-non state entities.

I think these are the three essential pillars, many other things branch off, but those three points summarize the crux of the issue. I think a couple things that add nuances are as follows.

-This isnt necessarily a situation of vox populi or sensuum fidelium. There is a certain amount of expertise, knowledge and background necessary to really properly address these topics. I think this issue cant be fully explored and adequately dealt with unless everybody involved holds a security clearance. The end point critical facts and procedures at the heart of the discussion simply cant enter the mainstream debate. One example: I think there are far better organizational models used by some other countries in integrating their intelligence functions that would greatly benefit us. Unfortunately, that line of reasoning cant take place in public. Im going somewhere with this at my end conclusion if you can hang with me.

DING DING--Havent mentioned this yet, but the state of ISLAM is very important here. We arent talking just about academic theories, but about a concrete, real situation, with actual definable forces. We arent in a "Clash of Civilizations," but you can sure see it from here. I see a couple things that I have not seen addressed in other places.
1)Historically, during the Crusades and other times, there have been prisoners taken and exchanged on both sides. There have also been prisoners executed and tortured on both sides. There were religious orders founded for the ransom and exchange of captives. I find this very interesting. From the stories one reads, the Crusader knights, and some of the Islamic chiefs, were treated very Chivalrously, and gentlemanly. My natural instinct, and I think that of our contemporary intelligence model, would have us grilling those guys for order of battle information as well as for intelligence about their military infrastructure -- How many horses could be bred and trained for war every year out of certain areas of France, for example. I havent read enough to see if this was done, or if it has even been translated from the historical documents. An important note, however......prisoners were always held for ransom, thus they were a dehumanized commodity for cash and capital. In our age, information is a commodity......so has anything changed? We are morally superior in the sense that we recognize that the average Joe Private should be released back into normal life.
2)This leads us to the observation that contemporary Islam is the "sick man of the world." The US and allies at least TAKE prisoners, anybody falling into the hands of these other groups is killed, period. I think we can see even in our own time how this situation has deteriorated. Remember Terry Waite, Fr. Jenco, and the Lebanon hostages during the 80's? As terrible as that situation was, we cant even raise to that level now.

Where this takes us to a conclusion....
I think we can clearly see that our current intellectual and political paradigms are inadequate in dealing with our current situation. Just War is strained when dealing with modern conflict where immigration has intermixed all the populations of the world, where groups other than states are capable of mounting operations, and where technology has made distance obsolete. The Geneva conventions, likewise, are inadequate in dealing with non-state forces and loosely organized cell structures.

Where I see the kernels of good ideas:
The Petraeus doctrine: The "surge" was not merely a strategy of throwing more bodies into Iraq. It is a radical shift in thought from seeing a military force as merely a battlefield fire and maneuver element. The economic, social, societal, and neighborhood problems of an area are equally, perhaps more important at times, than the combat power issues affecting an area. This sort of thinking seems so much more in tune with Jus ad Bello than mere "Occupation". On a cultural note, I dont think anyone from a non-Christian society could ever dream up this stuff. As to our original question of "waterboarding" and "torture", I think as this sort of more modern, unconventional theory of warfare permeates all the branches, I think that the intelligence and interrogation functions will progress in step.....there will still be tough interrogating(thankfully, I have to say), but I think the organizational culture will be such that abuses will be seen as detrimental to the overall effort --Look at it this way, suppose we do the whole routine on somebody who gives us useful information, there might be 10 people who would have "Snitched" who will now keep their mouths shut due to the actions taken against the first. I know this sounds like a very shallow cop-out, but Im trying to be realistic as to what is possible, and how morals and procedures change within institutions.

Benedict XVI - That rascally devil. My impression of Benedict/Ratzinger is that of an intellectual of the highest order, an urbane and cultured man who will be remembered for the density of his thought. However, I am now seeing him as a very shrewd politician who fully seems to be able to manifest the Love of Christ as "Tough Love". The Regensburg lecture, although yet again decried by the media, did spark some very serious debate. I dont like to dwell on what I see as cultural failures of Islam at too much depth, gets the feeling of a racist rant, but, I will say that there is a certain machismo and mafioso element(hell, Godfather was Saddam's favorite movie, just about EVERYBODY who has access to media in those countries seems to be aware of it, "it breaks my heart") in Islamic culture that you really need to carry yourself like an alpha male to have respect. I cant believe I just had to use that same term in reference to B16, but nobody..NOBODY else has accomplished as much to open a dialogue with Islam. Read this about Benedict's interaction with Islamic scholars.
I think in order to move from our current situation of generational warfare to one of at least detante, if not co-existence, the paradigm of the Islamic world has to be challenged, and challenged from within. Benedict's moves are the only ones being played on that most important Chessboard. Indeed, as GKC said, "Islam is a movement that ceased to move." Thats it in a nutshell.

This is very long, very wordy, but a dense topic. I think it goes to show how all of these things are interconnected, how our political and academic systems are piecemeal in their workings, and how one needs a "catholic" outlook on things to truly contribute.

Have a great day!


Anonymous said...

Those who'd like to read what Chesterton was writing about war, including how to prevent it and how to fight it, around the time of WWI, might want to get a copy of my latest Chesterton collection:

Chesterton on War and Peace: Battling the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II.
ISBN: 978-1-58742-061-0 pb
978-1-58742-062-7 (hb, out soon)

It's a 447-page collection of the best 111 articles that Chesterton wrote on war and peace for the Illustrated London News between 1905 and 1922 with extensive background information and footnotes for all those who're not experts on WWI. In those articles, he warned that something was seriously wrong with German society that, if not corrected, would led to a yet more horrible war within a generation--precisely what happened.

At the moment the book is in revision and not in wholesale channels, but the American Chesterton Society should have copies by early next week. And I would strongly suggest that you get copies of all your Chesterton books from them rather than Amazon, not just to support them, but to protest Amazon's recent heavy-handed attempts to bully small publishers. Details about that here:


Amazon's becoming yet another illustration of how power corrupts.

--Mike Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

Trubador said...

Yet another deep and thoughtful post on this complex yet important subject. Thanx again, Kyro!

Dad29 said...

Your estimation of B-16's moves vis-a-vis Islam matches mine.

NOBODY else has accomplished what he did (in less time, we should add.)

Anonymous said...

Your article is quite mobilizing: thought.

The quote of Chesterton is very accurate-more on this later-it sparked me!!

Every single country in the world is in fear, and is intimidated by the Islamic culture-the good, the bad, and the indifferent-not Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. He wants peace, true peace. He has holy hope too. We don't-or we would be telling them about Jesus. So, he is going to do it-wait and see! He has already been enlivening us faithful-admit it, and bringing the lost back home-admit it. Guess what! he loves them-and that will do it.

P. S. Holy Father, John Paul II, The Great brought the WHOLE WORLD together-a world's first! Now, Pope Benedict is going to teach us how to practice our religion. First by instruction and example, and then by spirit!...action. That is what a good father does. That is what Our Heavenly Father did too. Thank you Jesus. Do you see the mirror of these two popes?

Their culture seems to stand like a stone in the same place for centuries. Yes, Mr. Chesterton!

Their culture said, leave us alone or we will blow your head off. So we did. Now we have this mess. If they disagree with this-they lie.

I think Pope Benedict is doing what Jesus did: Ask the questions. Get the people to use Faith and Reason-start thinking for THEMSELVES. He is not a politician(sorry, I disagree)-he is reflecting the Teacher-Jesus. By love: If you love-you teach. If you love-you hear. If you love-you share. If you love-you will!

Guess where that will led them!

Note: How many times in the Bible did God ask a question? Why? I know why!

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"We are morally superior in the sense that we recognize that the average Joe Private should be released back into normal life."

Because we are inferior enough to draft him in the first place.