Unintended (and puzzling to some) consequences

Morrissey describes The new humane: killing terrorists instead of capturing them. Because of the brouhaha raised about the detention and interrogation of foreign nationals caught in action against US personnel, the incentives have changed for what to do with them. Rather than capture, confine, and interrogate and face a squabble about criminal rights, jurisdiction, and political point making, it becomes more expedient to destroy them. Hence, the popularity of assassination via UAV.

treating terrorists captured abroad (as opposed to arrested in the US) the same as criminals arrested in the US, the government and the courts turn military and intelligence personnel into cops, and in doing so put at risk both the personnel and the tactics used to find, capture, and interrogate terrorists. It sets all of the incentives towards killing terrorists rather than capturing them, which not only results in higher collateral casualties but also denies the US critical intelligence on other terrorists.

There is a tactic here. It involves the ‘reduce to the absurd’ logical fallacy to obscure a line that was established through the trials of history.

This isn’t a deformation of war; it’s a deformation of politics. And it really isn’t directly related to the enhanced interrogation techniques at all, but to the insistence of political leadership and the federal courts to insist on a jurisdiction that flies in the face of two centuries of American military and legal tradition.

The line is that between ‘us’ and ‘them’. The distinctions involved in citizenship and residency in a country have been marginalized as politically convenient by some. These distinctions are critical in segregating war from crime and prisoners of war from criminals. Both the nature of the terrorist activities as well as the global communications structures facilitate this tactic of blurring the line.

There are two points raised by Morrissey that are worth examining. One is the implication of a higher than national authority, the diminishment of nationality coupled with some poorly defined global replacement (think League of Nations or UN). The other is that many who succumbed to the propaganda used to implement the tactic are clueless about how the result occurred. Both indicate ideological fantasy taking precedence over reality and intellectual integrity. That path has lead to much misery before and there is little to suggest otherwise.

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