May 14, 2007

Why I'm Hard for Iraq

By the "Shorter" Ralph Peters:
We are THE. BEST. EVER. Never mind all those pansy arguments that Iraq never attacked us and never seriously threatened us, and that this is a war of aggression. We were attacked on 9/11, boyo. Now we get to KILL PEOPLE. Never mind who or where. We kill people, and then we win.

We sent THE. BEST. MILITARY. EVER. to Iraq. We spent lots and lots of money. And we still might lose. Wanna know why, you pansies? Because we aren't killing ENOUGH PEOPLE. What's that? We've killed well over half a million people? You friggin' fruits. NOT. ENOUGH. When we kill enough people, then we win.

Losing is IMMORAL. Winning is EVERYTHING.

You know what's really disgusting? What's disgusting is that only about half our soldiers would use torture if it saved other Americans' lives. Happy now, you pansies? Now even our soldiers -- who are still THE. BEST. EVER. -- are girly men. I bet you knob polishers wouldn't even torture a terrorist to save the life of the person you loved most in the world, would you? WOULD YOU?

You make me puke. You don't want to hurt people's feelings.

We have to WIN. That means killing lots of people, ANY people. Then WE WIN.

And then we are still THE. BEST. EVER.

God, I'm so hard.
Should you think the sexual part of this synopsis is gratuitous, consider "The Dynamics of Rising American Fascism" and the discussion of a Stan Goff article in that piece. Peters embraces the noxious and repellent "ideal" of a murderously violent "masculinity" in its totality. This glorification and romanticization of bloody violence -- and the bloodier and more murderous, the better -- lies at the center of our endless mythologies about war, as I will soon be discussing in detail.

On a much more somber and serious note, consider these paragraphs from Peters on the subject of torture:
Torturing prisoners should never be our policy, both because it's immoral and because it's usually ineffective. But it's madness to declare that there can never be exceptions.

Forget the argument about the "ticking bomb" and the terrorist who might have information that could save numerous lives. Let's make it personal.

Whether you're left, right or in between, ask yourself this yes-or-no question: If torturing a known terrorist would save the life of the person you love most in the world, would you approve it?

If your answer is "no," you're not a moral paragon. You're an abomination. And please make your position clear to your husband or wife, mother or father, son or daughter. Just tell 'em, "Sorry, honey, but I'd rather see you dead than mistreat a terrorist. It's a moral issue with me."
It remains a source of considerable astonishment and revulsion to me that the advocates of "exceptions" to the prohibition against torture continue to equivocate in this manner -- and that most people are too ignorant or stupid to recognize the equivocation.

I have been over this ground in great detail before, in "Lies in the Service of Evil." The problem in the situation imagined by Peters (and similarly imagined by other subhumans such as both Clintons, Alan Dershowitz, and innumerable Hollywood hacks) is the epistemological one I described in the first part of that essay. Peters assumes we will know the critical facts which are precisely those facts that we will not know. He assumes we will be torturing a "known" terrorist -- despite the fact that many horrifying stories over the last several years have made indisputably clear that we have brutalized and tortured large numbers of people who turned out to be entirely innocent. In fact, the great majority of them have proven to be innocent.

But let's grant Peters that assumption, although it is entirely unjustified. Note the second assumption of certain knowledge: that torturing this "known terrorist" will "save the life of the person you love most in the world." Peters acknowledges that torture is both immoral and that it is "usually ineffective." But he assumes it will be "effective" in this one case -- and his hypothetical assumes that its "effectiveness" is certain. But numerous studies establish that torture does not work, and that any and all intelligence gained by its use is almost always wrong and inaccurate. The exceptions are so rare that they are unworthy of mention; in effect, they are accidental and thus irrelevant to an analysis of torture's "utility." So on what basis does Peters contend, with apparently absolute and omniscient certainty, that torture will save a life in this one instance? There is no basis for this assumption whatsoever, which is another of the filthy, sickening secrets at the disgusting heart of all the arguments offered by torture's advocates, even if torture is only to be used in "emergencies." On this and related issues, see the earlier essay for many more details. And this does not even consider the disastrous effects on those who administer the torture, all of whom will return to live and work among us at some point; see this piece about "Becoming Monsters" and which concerns the "confession" of one of the U.S. torturers in Iraq, Tony Lagouranis, for the profoundly disturbing details.

Some people may have thought that I exaggerated when I argued that the United States government and its vaunted military are lethal, professional murderers, guilty of crimes infinitely worse than those committed by the horrifying but comparatively amateurish Cho Seung-Hui. Peters, and others who believe as he does, show that I did not exaggerate to the slightest degree. In fact, Peters advocates that the U.S. military adopt Cho's tactics, and significantly multiply their scope. In this view, Cho's methods were entirely admirable, for he murdered with commendable efficiency and dispatch; his only mistake was in the targets he chose, and he worked on far too small a scale. He killed Americans, and only 32 of them. If he had been killing Iraqis (and any other non-Americans who happened to be in Iraq for any reason), Peters might well have written a column celebrating Cho as a great hero, whose tactics should be adopted forthwith and widely emulated.

So Peters was inadvertently correct on one point: there is unquestionably an "abomination" involved. And that abomination is Peters himself, and all those who have similar views. As I said at the conclusion of my analysis of identical arguments offered by the vile Charles Krauthammer:
A word that is stronger and more damning that "evil" is needed to convey the nature of this kind of argument. Krauthammer seeks to make us all monsters, and to make us all accept that we must be monsters: "We must all be prepared to torture." And even worse: we are "morally compelled" to be monsters.

The confession is undeniable. Be absolutely sure to grasp what it is: Krauthammer thus confesses that he is already a monster, but he does not want you to condemn him for it. To the contrary, he wants you to become a monster too, to accept that you were "compelled" do so in the name of morality itself, all so that you will fear judgment in the same manner, and for the same reason.

Thus, these monsters seek to reduce every one of us to their level -- to make all of us sadistic brutes, who inflict pain for the sake of pain, and who continue to maintain that they are "morally compelled" to do so, that they are upholding civilization in so acting, and that they had no choice in the matter.

But it is all a lie. It is the single worst lie any human being can ever tell. We always have a choice. The choice is what makes us human. That is where the essence of our humanity lies -- and where the possibility for true nobility of action and spirit resides.

It is also where the capacity for evil lies. Krauthammer and those who believe as he does have told us in unmistakable terms that they are already monsters. They deny it, but the truth is that they have chosen to be monsters. Krauthammer's entire article is nothing but a series of lies, and a series of rationalizations to disguise his own evil.

They are monsters. They now seek to turn us into a nation of monsters. Never, ever forget it.
[An earlier examination of Peters' genocidal views, from the fall of 2004, will be found here.]