January 27th, 2006


Loss of moral authority

Documents Show Army Seized Wives As Tactic
The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of "leveraging" their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.

While such tactics may be necessary in a war, it makes it awfully hard to tell terrorists not to seize civilians to further their ends. More and more to me, it's looking as if the differences between us and the terrorists are: we're a country and they aren't, we don't use reprehensible methods on the same scale, and that we think our motives are pure and theirs are not. Which in the end makes all tactics legitimate except insofar as they provoke outrage that turns public opinion against the users of such tactics. And on that front, we're losing in the Arab world.

Note, I don't actually subscribe to the view that all tactics are justifiable (the ends justifies the means). But increasingly, it seems to me like we (as a country) are losing the standing to say the ends does not justify the means.

And we're gonna lose the outrage battle among the people that count too.