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Much ado about torture.

Torture has been the signature of tyranny since causing a lot of suffering was invented. Why should it be any different now?

Quite simply put, it’s not. But beyond all the moral implications, is torture even productive. Let us consider the idea.

Is torturing people simply to instill fear in their would be collaborators in the résistance roductive? For now let us a assume that it’s not. If anything it simply proves the necessity of ... the résistance. Now fortunately, as far as I know the American government has not dropped to this level on the tyranny scale (which is colour coordinated for no apparent reason; American is now at a blackish abyss colour). That the idea that one’s friends, family and ones fellow citizens are being tortured instills a passion to fight the torturers, there can be no doubt.

We then jump to our main concern: is torturing for information ever beneficial? First, we must establish how effective torture actually is before we can consider when it can be applied. There is essentially two competing factors: uncomfort instilled by the torturers versus the will of the tortured. Two things history has proven: (a) that it is possible to withstand torture, and thus torture is not a guarantee, and (b) the value of information supplied by the tortured, if at all, decreases proportional to the amount of torturing — to break the will, one must render the mind incoherent, and thus information extracted from a broken will is presented by an incoherent mind.

For in the history of warfare, the most effective informants have virtually all been from defectors. Torture not required. Thus, we are fundamentally weighing torture against discussion. If an enemy is captured the question is: can I convince this captive to turn sides? Perhaps, if my side is—among other things—not torturing people.

... I can’t actually think of a situation where torture would be necessary, no matter how outlandish, even though I’m not only trying, but generally viewed as an expert on outlandish things. So, it actually turns out to be quite simple, no need to give an extreme example where torture is required and then the antithesis of when torture is not required and try for a synthesis and establish some sort of line or colour scale or something between the two extremes and finally show what the Americans are doing is not a “torture or the world explodes†situation. Torture leads to a decrease in information. Categorical imperative: game, set, match ... check mate.

For instance, let us say I captured a person, without whom’s cooperation the world would explode. I could try to persuade the person by force; as in torture. However, clearly the person is highly motivated, and torture would invariably increase the person’s motivation. Clearly, there exists no fear of death. Torturing may indeed simply prove to this person beyond a benefit of a doubt the necessity of blowing up the world. Furthermore, lest I know not what I’m doing, the unreasonableness of blowing up the world I should easily be able to show. Thus, confronted with the situation I would use the Socratic method.

So, let us conclude the article by speculating about the nature of the minds of the American sub high command — those that actually believe they are acting in the best interests of Americans. I think the fundamental concept that’s lacking is that “the hearts and minds campaign†cannot be won through manipulation, but by actually being the more reasonable side.


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