Apropros of yesterday’s post on waterboarding, here’s another take on the role of torture in contemporary warfare.
Kevin Bell argues that ethics can’t be left to chaplains as subject matter experts because nobody else needs to know about it. He argues that because of the stresses that junior officers will feel in a counter-insurgency environment where the enemy is largely unknown, the temptation to resort to torture as interrogation will be huge because of anger and the desire for revenge will be enormous.
“Reasonable people can disagree about the best arguments for and against torture. For us as soldiers, though, these claims are beside the point. We are required by duty and honor to uphold our country’s statutory and treaty obligations, which state that torture is categorically unacceptable. To better fulfill this duty we have to do more to confront the ethical dilemmas of our profession before we go to war. It isn’t enough to know the rules if we are still unsure in a time of weakness what to do with detainees who might have tactically useful information. Our training
and leadership culture have to reinforce our understanding that the ethical treatment of prisoners doesn’t undermine the counterinsurgency strategy.”
Whole article here. A must read for army officers.