Guantanamo, etc. 

Guantanamo, etc.

Chris Matthews via Atrios:

MATTHEWS: My big concern is, the longer you keep them, the angrier they get. Eventually, you are going to send them home. Maybe the smarter thing is to execute everyone down there, because if you‘re going to send them back to the Arab world or the Islamic world angry as hell at us, they‘re going to be doing dirty stuff against us, right?

Now this is truly in the spirit of Alcidas the Spartan, and the same criticism comes to mind: maybe you won't be known as a liberator if this is how you treat prisoners?

On the same program, Deborah Orin:

ORIN: I go back to the fact that we need to remember we‘re at war.

And it makes it—you know, for some of the people who are on the left on this issue, it gets very easy to say, oh, we need to treat them with proper respect and so on. This is a very complicated question, because, on the one hand, you don‘t want to behave as badly as they do. On the other hand, you know, I think the reaction in much of the al Qaeda world to this story will be, what a bunch of wusses. Boy, if that is all they do to you, we don‘t even have to be afraid of being captured.

In order to win a war, the U.S. needs to persuade individuals on the enemy side that they should be afraid of being captured by U.S. military personnel? Afraid of being tortured?

The obvious point that is made by Bush critics is that we--the anti-Axis allies, led in the West by the U.S.--defeated the Axis powers without torturing helpless individuals.

The equally obvious point that could be made is that we showed great willingness to be absolutely ruthless in order to win that war--in particular, by saturation bombing of hundreds of thousands of civilians. There were terrible regimes that enjoyed considerable popular support, and we wanted to show that we were strong, and the totalitarian regimes were weak. Do you show that by torturing captives?

I guess the general rule should apply: Senator Durbin was wrong to make an analogy to the Nazis (see Kaus and Jon Stewart). But his analogy was not as far off as most such analogies are.


Kevin Drum asks: the description of actual torture at Guantanamo, carried out by Americans in uniform (and perhaps by the CIA), reminds us of regimes other than the liberal democracy in the U.S. Bush defenders don't want to say there's an analogy to Nazi Germany, or the Soviet Union, or Pol Pot. OK, then: what regime does it remind us of?

Jonah Goldberg has started working on this: "A more apt, but still poor analogy, would be to Turkey a couple decades ago or perhaps France during the Algerian campaign." Now we're getting somewhere. Do I hear Pinochet? Franco? The Argentinian colonels, who apparently made Margaret Thatcher say "It's 1939 all over again"? Someone on the Corner thinks it's hypocritical of the left to praise Castro, while criticizing "the rest" of Cuba, namely Guantanamo. OK: Do I hear Castro?

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