Via Matt Welch at Reason, on the recently discovered FBI torture memos:
The FBI memos, which included more graphic descriptions of detainee abuse (including “strangulation, beatings, [and] placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees ear openings”), bore an uncanny resemblance to previous accusations made by 10 Gitmo prisoners. They are also consistent with two years’ worth of evidence that the Bush Administration has consistently sought legal wiggle-room to expand the limits on what the U.S. military (or the countries it cooperates with) can do to the people it captures.
The news was something of a last straw for a weblogger known as Publius, who on Dec. 21 published a much-linked “Conservative Case for Outrage,” which posed a question that’s been asked a few times before: Where’s the outrage from prominent conservatives?
An excerpt from Publius’s insightful post:
If the prisoner torture should piss off anyone, it should piss off Iraq hawks the most. Although my views of the war are well-known, I know that there were many good-faith supporters of the war who believed strongly in the cause and who believe strongly in democracy promotion. But there is nothing – and I mean nothing – that undermines our efforts and our mission more than the torture of Muslims, especially when that torture is coldly calculated to exploit Arabs’ religious views. The whole thing has a level of sophistication far beyond what nineteen-year old reservists from West Virginia could devise. And to those we most need to persaude, it vindicates bin Laden’s claims that we are hostile to Islam.
You can’t defeat an insurgency – whether in Iraq or in the war on terror, which is essentially a global insurgency – by military force alone. That’s because an insurgency isn’t finite. Its numbers and resources expand and contract with public opinion. (This is the main reason why the whole “so-we-don’t-fight-them-at-home” line doesn’t make much sense, logically speaking. Our efforts have increased the ranks of those that hate us.) We can raze every city in the Sunni Triangle (and we’re well on our way), but we will never defeat an elastic insurgency if we can’t win the hearts and minds of the local population. If you care about the success of this mission, both in Iraq and more globally, logic demands outrage. I mean, imagine if an Islamic army conquered America. Then imagine if you watched your countrymen get raped, tortured, and murdered by a foreign army who you didn’t really like anyway. Do you think you’d sign up for the Iraq 2.0 police squad or would you join the local insurgency with your family and childhood friends?
When the administration authorized torture, it threatened our troops and it threatened our mission, most likely fatally and beyond any hope of recovery. It is hard to underestimate the damage caused by the ripples of Abu Ghraib.
To help begin to locate an answer, I conducted Lexis searches on “Abu Ghraib,” “prison,” “abuse,” and the names of three prominent conservative commentators: William Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, and Rich Lowry.
Also, see this post at Matt’s own blog where he writes about an interesting interview he ran across while researching the Reason article from the ancient history (last spring) of the first assault on Fallujah.