Ed Morrissey: 
I guess this means it’s on. O’Reilly gets the worst of this exchange for not comprehending that the Geneva Conventions bind nations to standards of conduct regardless of reciprocation and for many different kinds of detainees and refugees; doesn’t the man research the topic before an interview? He also lets McCain off the hook on the allegation that it makes American soldiers less safe in future wars, given the fact that we don’t plan on fighting France or the Brits any time soon:
And Ed has vid of the exchange.
McCain is dead wrong on this.
What McCain is trying to do here is to reduce morality to a lawbook, and that simply cannot be done. At what point has morality ever been non-contextual? At what point has morality ever been so simple as rulebook?
What were the methods involved? Getting wet, placing panties on their heads and sleep deprivation. Well, excuse me, but in the annals of man’s inhumanity to man, being beheaded, burned alive, etc, would seem to trump these. We need information to save lives. Are you suggesting these animals… and that’s what they are… are going to tell us what we need t know to save lives because we’re very nice to them? Perhaps you think cookies and warm milk will work better?
As an example… Let’s say I come to you and say that there is a couple that hates you so much that they will kill their six month old baby so as to kill you, I am describing a level of ferocity, and a level of savagery that is beyond any possibility of recognition that they’re being treated nicely, wouldn’t you say?
And spare me the nonsense about questionable intelligence coming from it. In the handful of cases where the mild procedures we have used have been brought to bear, the intelligence has been solid gold. KSM, for example. Funny how McCain never brings this up.
Spare me the nonsense about how our Allies will be reluctant to join us. Our Allies in this war on terror, have been conducting more stringent and trying investigations then are we. Nobody’s accused them of being ‘immoral’, except for the anti-war crowd who wouldn’t be happy unless the US lost anyway. On that basis it seems to me that our Allies are going to be reluctant to join us not because we “torture” , but because we make the mistake of not doing so.
I’ve said this before, and will continue to say it until I get an answer or an admission: Spare me the delusional fear that they will torture our people, because we very occasionally torture theirs. Please explain to me in what war this country has ever fought, the Geneva conventions have been actually followed at all points. You cannot, because they have not been.
Spare me the pretenses of morality. In this situation, they mean little, because war is, in fact the absenceof morality. Morality only gets re-established once the war has been settled… and that morality gets defined exclusively by the winners. If you’re going to argue from a morality standpoint and ‘civilized warfare”, allow me to remind you that the Brits thought we did not fight according to the laws if civilized warfare, during the Revolutionary war. They considered the American army a band of guerrillas. Should we give them their Colonies back?
Finally, allow me to remind Mr. McCain that if we’d stuck by the letters of the Geneva convention, we’d have been summarily executing terrorists, not interrogating them, and then housing and feeding them three Halal squares a day at great expense.
Survival …as a people, as well as survival as individuals… is the focus, here.
If we give that up, and we give up control of the situation, what good is any of the rest of it? If we don’t win, if we don’t maintain utter control of the situation, what possibility do any of those “high ideals”, this morality we hold, have, to survive in the world? If we are unwilling to do what’s necessary defend ourselves by whatever means, then what it comes down to is we don’t deserve to survive.
Which seems rather handy, since we probably won’t.
I say again: It is the winners who are the ones who get to decide what constitutes morality… and they won’t pay what YOU or I consider moral, any mind whatever… as they have repeatedly demonstrated.
This argument about torture keeps falling back on the Geneva conventions, and so perhaps this aspect needs addressing:
* There are no rules in war, other than the rules dictated by the winner, afterward.
* The Geneva Convention which purports to be civilized warfare, is in fact nothing of the sort, and is not worth the paper it was written on, having repeatedly been broken in every war ever waged since it’s signing. There’s a reason, here; Warfare is not civil under any conditions. War is, instead, the utter lack of civility. It is therefore unrealistic to assume or demand any degree of civility in wartime.
* Those, such as McCain, who seek closer adherence to the Geneva Convention during wartime, even on moralistic ground, particularly when the enemy is overtly not adhering to said convention, are themselves immoral, given they end up costing their own side lives, by causing their own military to, in effect, fight with one hand tied behind their back. I say yet again, I include John McCain in this. That he doesn’t understand this disqualifies him from holding the office of POTUS, in my opinion.
* When a people go to war, it is by definition a last resort against an immoral enemy. It’s understood that war of itself is an immoral act. In going to war the line of immorality has already been crossed… but it is also understood that the greater immorality is to allow the enemy to continue it’s immoral activity. It is assumed, thereby, that whatever actions are taken in pursuit of winning said war against said immoral enemy, are in the immediate sense, of lesser moral consequence than the defeat of the enemy, and the actions of the enemy, both before and during said war.
* Hindsight, which is what is being engaged in here by John McCain , is a luxury a nation at war cannot afford. For example, consider the post 9/11 world, and the discussions about ‘How far would you go to stop another 9/11?” We succeeded in stopping any more such attacks on us, and we continue to hold them back. Being concerned now with the ‘rights’ of those attacking us is at least counter-productive, and self-defeating.
The choice before us, as I see it comes down to one enemy combatants comfort, or a handful, over thousands of American lives. McCain has stuck up here not for the Americans and for the west but for the enemy.
John McCain is wrong…dead wrong… on this issue.