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June 15, 2008

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His main point seems to be that it is important that people who are asked to fight for our government have some idea what they are fighting for, and that this will help them under captivity. This is not a nutty thing to think.

I suppose one of the few good things (from the US perspective) about the Iraq War is the very low number of US POW's. But I'll bet dollar to donuts that not a single one of them would have had a coherent idea of what they were fighting for. WMD? Freedom? So 'they' don't attack us here? Al Qaeda? Rearrange the political landscape of the Middle East? And Prez Mc100Years sure wouldn't clear that little problem up.

Why does he now think that these techniques are OK?

a great question.

other than plain ol' fear of another 9/11 and an eagerness to Do Everything Possible to prevent such a thing, all the things i come up with are completely cynical. and we know that can't be true, because cynicism has no seat on the Straight Talk Express

A superficial thought, but it seems to me that both John McCain and John Kerry were a lot more honest about these matters when they were younger men.

Why does he now think that these techniques are OK?

Because the people being subjected to them are Arabs and Muslims, and that's just fine with the hard-core base of his party. According to the New McCain and the 25-percenters, we're facing a generation-long battle against a global Islamist menace. Hard men must stand ready to do what's necessary, etc. etc.

@JakeB: Too-freaking-shay.

watch the Morning Joe gang's astounded befuddlement as Gen Clark questions McCain's national security credentials.

Terrific clip cleek.

Why does he now think that these techniques are OK?

Crikey. It has been 34 years since St. John of the Flip-flop wrote his thesis. He can't keep his beliefs of last week straight. You think he even remembers his time at the National War College?

Why does he now think that these techniques are OK?

Because:

This form of torture, without laying a hand on a prisoner, was sometimes very successful in breaking his will."

That is to say, in McCain's view, torture works. All that's left is the moral question, and people's moral beliefs change over the course of thirty-odd years.

But as strongly illustrated in McCain's own story, torture doesn't work to break someone's will and get "the truth" out of them. Torture works to break somoene's will and say/do whatever the captor wants to make it stop.

That's why torture is ineffective as an actual law enforcement tool.

What makes you think he didn't regard those techniques as OK then?

McWetstart was writing a paper for a degree requirement and undboubtedly had an advisor who read his draft and made him take out all of the nasty, sniping remarks which are evident in his unscripted, unhinged moments. He's a piece of shit and has no fucking honor.

Note for newcomers: the posting rules here forbid profanity.

I appreciate the fairminded review, Hilzoy.

"His main point seems to be that it is important that people who are asked to fight for our government have some idea what they are fighting for, and that this will help them under cpativity. This is not a nutty thing to think."

Not a nutty thing to think, indeed.

And on the whole, I think this point is much more Democratic than it is Republican; hence, McCain's reputation for not always going along w/ the party line of the Republicans.

As someone noted earlier, did our soldiers who initially went into Iraq really know why they going?

There is no way they could have -- not when the public was sold a bill of goods, and so were most of the Senators and Representatives who voted for the authorization for George Bush to take us to war under false circumstances.

For that matter, do the soldiers currently in Iraq know why they are still there? Do we?

Does anyone?

McCain's thesis -- and his almost inhuman and Heroic response to his long, brutal captivity -- is impressive indeed, hilzoy.

And that's why, in general, a debate over War and the issues that go with it will be a winning one for McCain and the Republicans.

I am a moderate, lifelong Democrat, maybe even moderately liberal, and I want nothing more than to see Barack Obama in the White House rather than Sen. McCain. However, I will applaud McCain's bravery and service to his country until the cows come home.

And even if it didn't violate the posting rules, I think calling McCain "a piece of shit" who "has no fucking honor" violates the honor of the Democratic Party -- and, more to the point, once this kind of gutter blogging language about the revered (and in many corners, even Democratic) McCain comes to the knowledge of the MSM it will only hurt our chances to take back the White House.

One final point:

Assuming I am understanding the issue correctly, it does seem more than odd that McCain would be against military torture but be all for it as long as the CIA is doing it.

What's with that?

It's an inconsistency -- a John Kerry style flip-flop, to be sure: "I voted against military torture before I voted for it."

And Barack Obama and the Democrats should make note of this.

Strongly.

And often.


"His main point seems to be that it is important that people who are asked to fight for our government have some idea what they are fighting for, and that this will help them under captivity. This is not a nutty thing to think."


It's not a question of nuttiness. Vietnam War supporters believed the US cause in Vietnam was a noble one and that dropping millions of tons of bombs on Vietnam (many of them on villages and towns) was justified and McCain wanted US troops to believe this. If you don't agree then the idea that our government should propagandize our own troops seems less appealing. Of course it probably is going to happen anyway--I gather a fair number of US soldiers in Iraq went in thinking this was payback for 9/11 and I would guess that Americans in Vietnam were told that they were there to stop the tide of Communist expansion.

I don't doubt that McCain would deny that he wants the government to propagandize--as he says, he just wants the troops to be informed about our foreign policy. Somehow I don't get the impression he means exposing the troops to a wide range of opinions and arguments. His point is that people who questioned the war were more likely to collaborate and so the solution is patriotically correct thinking. I wouldn't call this "nutty". I just think that McCain's brand of patriotic correctness would involve support for many more American wars than some of us would favor. So who gets to decide what view is given official sanction?

Actually, I suppose the real problem is that it's harder to fight a war if many in the military think the war is wrong. McCain's not nutty to worry about this--I just don't see why I should sympathize with his imperialist problems. Most people in the military will fight with enthusiasm if it's obvious our own country is in danger.

"Most people in the military will fight with enthusiasm if it's obivous our own country is in danger."

True.

In fact, I'd like to think you could change "most" to "all."

Also, Donald, I think what McCain was trying to say in his thesis, an idea that I think is sound, is that those in the military shouldn't go to war without a clear and stated mission -- as was obviously not the case w/ Iraq.

And if that wasn't McCain's main point in his thesis, then it's mine.

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