The Moral Power of a Military:
Torture, Virtue Ethics, and the German Army

Military — By on December 2, 2004 at 12:22 am

The German press is reporting that twenty noncommissioned officers and one captain of the German army are being investigated for using violent training tactics that included electric shocks, physical abuse and psychological intimidation on around 80 recruits between June and September:

Spiegel newsmagazine reported Monday that in four instances on the training grounds in Coesfeld, a small town in northern Germany, the officers dressed themselves up as Arabs, ambushed the recruits during a night march, bound and hooded them and then transported them in trucks to a basement in the barracks.
There the recruits were forced to kneel against the wall, where they were roughed up and drenched with cold water. At least two of the victims received electric shocks in the throat, groin and stomach area from a loud-speaker cable, according to Spiegel.

While any reports of such abuse are disturbing, I find it particularly troubling that the event occurred during initial training, a period when professionalism and soldierly virtue are inculcated in the impressionable recruits. Military units are hermetically sealed cultures that, when at their best, have a moral core that is comprised of a unique blend of deontological and virtue ethics. Although the deontological side, with its emphasis on regulations and discipline, is the most commonly associated with the military, it is the honing of virtue ethics that creates a moral institution.
By cultivating specific virtues such as courage, discipline, and honor, a military shores up the natural moral law which lies in the hearts of its members. But hazing ‘



  • David Marcoe

    Joe, you seem to have recognized something that I was trying to articulate in comments on your earlier posts about libertarianism and classical liberalism. Simply put–and something that you have already recocnized–you kick the legs out from underneath virtue in any sphere and no amount of law will hold it in check.
    Thus, the deficiency is not in political philosophy, per se, the same way that the underlying problem with this abuse isn’t the existence of an army. Os Guinness, in Invitation to the Classics, shows the same thinking:

    “Market totalitarianism” takes control as market forces invade and colonize more and more of human life, subjecting it to the constraints and criteria of money. Thus the human is reduced to the economic, behavior to the self-interest, success to productivity, public life to a market place–and of course, art to investment and advertising, museums to shopping malls, and literature to best-selling merchandise.

    The logical flaw in that statement is that he ignores the fact that market forces have always been present; paintings in private hands, books privately printed and published, and museums buying artifacts from the auction block. One need only look to Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America to see the voracious demand for books by the American public. So it isn’t market forces–mere tools–that are invading and colonizing, but the moral decay. The market simply meets demand without discrimination.
    So, instead of looking to more laws to fix the problem (Useless laws weaken the necessary laws. –Charles De Montesquieu), we need to look to renewing roots of our Republic. The process of individual redemption and repentance goes hand and hand with societal repentance, such as when the Ninevites responded to Jonah’s call. And as society is redeemed, so then can all culture become redeemed.
    In the chapeter Principal Causes Which Tend to Maintain the Democratic Republic in the United States of Democracy In America, de Tocqueville writes:

    Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief. I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion

  • David Marcoe

    Joe, you seem to have recognized something that I was trying to articulate in comments on your earlier posts about libertarianism and classical liberalism. Simply put–and something that you have already recocnized–you kick the legs out from underneath virtue in any sphere and no amount of law will hold it in check.
    Thus, the deficiency is not in political philosophy, per se, the same way that the underlying problem with this abuse isn’t the existence of an army. Os Guinness, in Invitation to the Classics, shows the same thinking:

    “Market totalitarianism” takes control as market forces invade and colonize more and more of human life, subjecting it to the constraints and criteria of money. Thus the human is reduced to the economic, behavior to the self-interest, success to productivity, public life to a market place–and of course, art to investment and advertising, museums to shopping malls, and literature to best-selling merchandise.

    The logical flaw in that statement is that he ignores the fact that market forces have always been present; paintings in private hands, books privately printed and published, and museums buying artifacts from the auction block. One need only look to Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America to see the voracious demand for books by the American public. So it isn’t market forces–mere tools–that are invading and colonizing, but the moral decay. The market simply meets demand without discrimination.
    So, instead of looking to more laws to fix the problem (Useless laws weaken the necessary laws. –Charles De Montesquieu), we need to look to renewing roots of our Republic. The process of individual redemption and repentance goes hand and hand with societal repentance, such as when the Ninevites responded to Jonah’s call. And as society is redeemed, so then can all culture become redeemed.
    In the chapeter Principal Causes Which Tend to Maintain the Democratic Republic in the United States of Democracy In America, de Tocqueville writes:

    Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief. I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com/ mumon

    Joe:
    Military units are hermetically sealed cultures that, when at their best, have a moral core that is comprised of a unique blend of deontological and virtue ethics. Although the deontological side, with its emphasis…By cultivating specific virtues such as courage, discipline, and honor, a military shores up the natural moral law which lies in the hearts of its members. But hazing

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    Joe:
    Military units are hermetically sealed cultures that, when at their best, have a moral core that is comprised of a unique blend of deontological and virtue ethics. Although the deontological side, with its emphasis…By cultivating specific virtues such as courage, discipline, and honor, a military shores up the natural moral law which lies in the hearts of its members. But hazing

  • George

    Hmmmm.
    the object of a soldier’s profession is to kill people and destroy property when political purposes fail
    Darn. I guess all those stories about the active-duty military and National Guard helping out during disasters must be hoaxes. And the pictures of military personnel opening the gates of Buchenwald must have been photoshopped. And the hundreds of photos showing soldiers in Iraqi schools and hospitals… ?? Photoshopped. They wuz just tearin’ stuff up.
    They’re supposed to do this to keep their fellow citizens safe back home
    Now I know why why the US Army Corps of Engineers has been the major impediment to the destruction of wetlands! In order to keep the masses cowed, safe, and ignorant, the Corps does this stuff as background public relations activity while engineering the collapse of oppositional governments. Very Orwellian.
    They do this, as has been pointed out by military writers for a long, long time, by creating an alternate identity in recruits
    An “alternate identity”? Do they get an alternate driver’s license and passport to go with that identity, or does that cost extra? And what happens to the alternate identities when the the soldier is mustered out? Do they all go to a secret alternate identity rest home in Northern Alaska run by the Illuminati and Freemasons to avoid public scrutiny?
    There’s nothing moral or virtuous or any other kind of junk like that in any of this, except for the keeping us safe part. It’s just business
    I don’t disagree. I’m just wondering how the military expediting the travel of an Iraqi girl to the US to receive medical treatment for a disfiguring disease factored into the killing and breaking business. There must be an angle there somewhere.
    It’s why empires come about- this nice machine for “keeping the people safe” can be used for other means
    Of course. Caesar didn’t lead the Roman Army, the Roman Army led Caesar. Boy oh boy, did they have him fooled.
    That said, the garbage reported here [and other media hysterics] have been spectacular failures in that they haven’t made anybody safer, they don’t get useful information
    It’s amazing that the KGB torture chambers existed for so long. Obviously, they weren’t getting valuable information. Those stupid Russkies just weren’t smart enough to realize the prisoners were gaming them while being beaten to death.
    So, it’s just evil. You don’t need to postulate natural law, or virture or any of it
    A sample gem from “The Wisdom of the Ages for Dummies”, available at Borders for your holiday giving list.
    There are no lines of defense against atrocities in war time, sir. It’s a war
    Thank heaven there are lines of defense in peacetime. If there weren’t, we might be hearing about hypotheticals like the Green River Killer, a dad who murders his daughters, or a brutal, cruel, inhumane fraternity hazing where the pledges were forced to wear panties on their heads.

  • George

    Hmmmm.
    the object of a soldier’s profession is to kill people and destroy property when political purposes fail
    Darn. I guess all those stories about the active-duty military and National Guard helping out during disasters must be hoaxes. And the pictures of military personnel opening the gates of Buchenwald must have been photoshopped. And the hundreds of photos showing soldiers in Iraqi schools and hospitals… ?? Photoshopped. They wuz just tearin’ stuff up.
    They’re supposed to do this to keep their fellow citizens safe back home
    Now I know why why the US Army Corps of Engineers has been the major impediment to the destruction of wetlands! In order to keep the masses cowed, safe, and ignorant, the Corps does this stuff as background public relations activity while engineering the collapse of oppositional governments. Very Orwellian.
    They do this, as has been pointed out by military writers for a long, long time, by creating an alternate identity in recruits
    An “alternate identity”? Do they get an alternate driver’s license and passport to go with that identity, or does that cost extra? And what happens to the alternate identities when the the soldier is mustered out? Do they all go to a secret alternate identity rest home in Northern Alaska run by the Illuminati and Freemasons to avoid public scrutiny?
    There’s nothing moral or virtuous or any other kind of junk like that in any of this, except for the keeping us safe part. It’s just business
    I don’t disagree. I’m just wondering how the military expediting the travel of an Iraqi girl to the US to receive medical treatment for a disfiguring disease factored into the killing and breaking business. There must be an angle there somewhere.
    It’s why empires come about- this nice machine for “keeping the people safe” can be used for other means
    Of course. Caesar didn’t lead the Roman Army, the Roman Army led Caesar. Boy oh boy, did they have him fooled.
    That said, the garbage reported here [and other media hysterics] have been spectacular failures in that they haven’t made anybody safer, they don’t get useful information
    It’s amazing that the KGB torture chambers existed for so long. Obviously, they weren’t getting valuable information. Those stupid Russkies just weren’t smart enough to realize the prisoners were gaming them while being beaten to death.
    So, it’s just evil. You don’t need to postulate natural law, or virture or any of it
    A sample gem from “The Wisdom of the Ages for Dummies”, available at Borders for your holiday giving list.
    There are no lines of defense against atrocities in war time, sir. It’s a war
    Thank heaven there are lines of defense in peacetime. If there weren’t, we might be hearing about hypotheticals like the Green River Killer, a dad who murders his daughters, or a brutal, cruel, inhumane fraternity hazing where the pledges were forced to wear panties on their heads.

  • http://decorabilia.blogspot.com Jim Anderson

    George writes,
    “It’s amazing that the KGB torture chambers existed for so long. Obviously, they weren’t getting valuable information. Those stupid Russkies just weren’t smart enough to realize the prisoners were gaming them while being beaten to death.”
    Actually, torture makes prisoners confess to all sorts of crimes they didn’t actually commit. When the state is simply looking for a scapegoat, a confession is good enough.

  • http://decorabilia.blogspot.com/ Jim Anderson

    George writes,
    “It’s amazing that the KGB torture chambers existed for so long. Obviously, they weren’t getting valuable information. Those stupid Russkies just weren’t smart enough to realize the prisoners were gaming them while being beaten to death.”
    Actually, torture makes prisoners confess to all sorts of crimes they didn’t actually commit. When the state is simply looking for a scapegoat, a confession is good enough.

  • Phil Aldridge

    Saith Mumon: We, as civilians can rightly get outraged at the violations of the treaties governing warfare, but the fact is, once you’ve got those wars, and you’ve got people who are in fire zones who are bent on surviving and having their comrades survive, there will be atrocities. Better to stop the wars from happening in the first place.
    However, some atrocities cannot be stopped without war. The holocaust, the Taliban, Saddam and his sons, the Purge, need I go on? None of those things ended via peace. And I’m sorry, but those atrocities are many orders of magnitude worse than Abu Ghraib or the German Recruit Abuse. War isn’t always the answer, but when it is the answer, it’s the only answer and we do ourselves a disservice when we slander it’s aims and it’s agents.
    -Phil

  • Phil Aldridge

    Saith Mumon: We, as civilians can rightly get outraged at the violations of the treaties governing warfare, but the fact is, once you’ve got those wars, and you’ve got people who are in fire zones who are bent on surviving and having their comrades survive, there will be atrocities. Better to stop the wars from happening in the first place.
    However, some atrocities cannot be stopped without war. The holocaust, the Taliban, Saddam and his sons, the Purge, need I go on? None of those things ended via peace. And I’m sorry, but those atrocities are many orders of magnitude worse than Abu Ghraib or the German Recruit Abuse. War isn’t always the answer, but when it is the answer, it’s the only answer and we do ourselves a disservice when we slander it’s aims and it’s agents.
    -Phil

  • Finlay

    mumon,
    Spoken like one whose only understanding of the military comes from “Full Metal Jacket” and other Hollywood tripe. Just for one second please grow up and actually learn something about the military as an institution.

  • Finlay

    mumon,
    Spoken like one whose only understanding of the military comes from “Full Metal Jacket” and other Hollywood tripe. Just for one second please grow up and actually learn something about the military as an institution.

  • http://www.centeredwork.com/ AndyS

    The military teaches killing. That is an essential aspect of its function. It’s obviously very difficult to recruit people who will be killers, train them to be effective at killing, and not have more than a few go bad or ones that start bad remain that way. Certainly many good people are attracted to our all-volunteer services with all the right intentions. But you have to expect that some join up for the all the wrong reasons and don’t get filtered out while others join because they simply see it as their best employment option.
    Giving powerful weapons to teenagers, teaching them to kill with them, sending kids into battle who cannot even drink alcohol legally in the USA …. It’s a terrible responsibility that rests with the men and women who do that. It’s also a terrible responsibility we all carry to help soliers become cilivians again and lead productive lives.
    I see the need for the military and the training of expert killers, but I have few wishes:
    1. We’d raise the legal age of military killers to 25. After all, it’s a bigger responsibility than handling a JD and soda.
    2. We would be more clear about the fact that this is what we are investing in: training people to kill.
    3. We put the same billions of dollars, training, and commitment into creating peacemakers and be just as clear about what we are investing in when we do so.

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    The military teaches killing. That is an essential aspect of its function. It’s obviously very difficult to recruit people who will be killers, train them to be effective at killing, and not have more than a few go bad or ones that start bad remain that way. Certainly many good people are attracted to our all-volunteer services with all the right intentions. But you have to expect that some join up for the all the wrong reasons and don’t get filtered out while others join because they simply see it as their best employment option.
    Giving powerful weapons to teenagers, teaching them to kill with them, sending kids into battle who cannot even drink alcohol legally in the USA …. It’s a terrible responsibility that rests with the men and women who do that. It’s also a terrible responsibility we all carry to help soliers become cilivians again and lead productive lives.
    I see the need for the military and the training of expert killers, but I have few wishes:
    1. We’d raise the legal age of military killers to 25. After all, it’s a bigger responsibility than handling a JD and soda.
    2. We would be more clear about the fact that this is what we are investing in: training people to kill.
    3. We put the same billions of dollars, training, and commitment into creating peacemakers and be just as clear about what we are investing in when we do so.

  • Phil Aldridge

    From the desk of AndyS:
    1. We’d raise the legal age of military killers to 25. After all, it’s a bigger responsibility than handling a JD and soda.
    2. We would be more clear about the fact that this is what we are investing in: training people to kill.
    3. We put the same billions of dollars, training, and commitment into creating peacemakers and be just as clear about what we are investing in when we do so.

    1. WW2 saw some of the most incredible heroics and acts of bravery and honor and the average age of the soldier their was quite young. They had 15 year olds pretending to be older to join. Young men are quite capable of being heroes and our army proves it again and again.
    2. For one, you’d have to be pretty stupid not to understand that soldiers are training to kill. I don’t understand why this is an issue. Second, our military is trained to do alot more than just kill. Just ask the medics, the chaplains, the officers, the radar techs, the engineers, the mechanics, the pilots, the psychological ops guys, the underwater demolitions guys, the negotiators, the guards, the minesweepers, the intel guys, and the recon guys. The military does more than you give it credit for.
    3. I’m not trying to be cute, but the soldiers ARE the peace-makers. When evil men like Hitler, Stalin, Hussein, the Taliban, Bin Laden, Kim Jong Il, etc are attacking their neighbors, killing innocents, and making chaos, the only way to bring peace is to kill them and anyone who fights for them and liberate the people they oppress. The only people who can do that are highly trained soldiers with big guns.
    “People sleep peacably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

  • Phil Aldridge

    From the desk of AndyS:
    1. We’d raise the legal age of military killers to 25. After all, it’s a bigger responsibility than handling a JD and soda.
    2. We would be more clear about the fact that this is what we are investing in: training people to kill.
    3. We put the same billions of dollars, training, and commitment into creating peacemakers and be just as clear about what we are investing in when we do so.

    1. WW2 saw some of the most incredible heroics and acts of bravery and honor and the average age of the soldier their was quite young. They had 15 year olds pretending to be older to join. Young men are quite capable of being heroes and our army proves it again and again.
    2. For one, you’d have to be pretty stupid not to understand that soldiers are training to kill. I don’t understand why this is an issue. Second, our military is trained to do alot more than just kill. Just ask the medics, the chaplains, the officers, the radar techs, the engineers, the mechanics, the pilots, the psychological ops guys, the underwater demolitions guys, the negotiators, the guards, the minesweepers, the intel guys, and the recon guys. The military does more than you give it credit for.
    3. I’m not trying to be cute, but the soldiers ARE the peace-makers. When evil men like Hitler, Stalin, Hussein, the Taliban, Bin Laden, Kim Jong Il, etc are attacking their neighbors, killing innocents, and making chaos, the only way to bring peace is to kill them and anyone who fights for them and liberate the people they oppress. The only people who can do that are highly trained soldiers with big guns.
    “People sleep peacably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com/ mumon

    George:
    I guess all those stories about the active-duty military and National Guard helping out during disasters must be hoaxes.
    I would submit that the National Guard’s assistance in these matters is not the primary function of a military. Moreover, there’s a reason this particular skill-set is not the primary one honed in basic training.
    I’m just wondering how the military expediting the travel of an Iraqi girl to the US to receive medical treatment for a disfiguring disease factored into the killing and breaking business.
    Good photo-op.
    I do wonder about the general hostility you’re showing to what I’ve written. War is war.
    Finlay :
    While I’ve no military experience personally, I have dealt with military personnel for about 15 years as part of my career, as well as uses and capabilities of military equipment, and have read quite a bit about military science. Maybe more than you have.
    AndyS :
    Spot on, except there’s a reason that we have the military entrance ages at 18: apparently by about the late 20’s most people have gotten away from the tribal/gang mode that teenagers exhibit and have become more familiar with death, and that’s why militaries world-wide recruit from ages that are younger than 25.
    Please note: I am not in any way denigrating the military, and of course I think they are needed especially in the world we live. But let’s have no illusions about what they do or why they’re there.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    George:
    I guess all those stories about the active-duty military and National Guard helping out during disasters must be hoaxes.
    I would submit that the National Guard’s assistance in these matters is not the primary function of a military. Moreover, there’s a reason this particular skill-set is not the primary one honed in basic training.
    I’m just wondering how the military expediting the travel of an Iraqi girl to the US to receive medical treatment for a disfiguring disease factored into the killing and breaking business.
    Good photo-op.
    I do wonder about the general hostility you’re showing to what I’ve written. War is war.
    Finlay :
    While I’ve no military experience personally, I have dealt with military personnel for about 15 years as part of my career, as well as uses and capabilities of military equipment, and have read quite a bit about military science. Maybe more than you have.
    AndyS :
    Spot on, except there’s a reason that we have the military entrance ages at 18: apparently by about the late 20’s most people have gotten away from the tribal/gang mode that teenagers exhibit and have become more familiar with death, and that’s why militaries world-wide recruit from ages that are younger than 25.
    Please note: I am not in any way denigrating the military, and of course I think they are needed especially in the world we live. But let’s have no illusions about what they do or why they’re there.

  • Scott Renner

    I’ll put in my plug here for Lee Harris’ book, Civilization and Its Enemies. It’s the Dr. Scott Book of the Year. To summarize an important theme of the book:
    Ruthlessness works, and always will; it’s inherent in the nature of things.To avoid being slaves of the ruthless, your society needs warriors.To avoid being slaves of your warriors, make sure they have the right code of ethics.Do this in advance, you can’t create these guys “just-in-time”.Mumion seems to be arguing that ethics are unimportant for soldiers. That’s wrong. It’s easy for Americans to make that mistake, they’ve lived with an ethical military for so long they’ve forgotten how to imagine the alternative. That sort of forgetfulness is another theme in the Harris book.

  • Scott Renner

    I’ll put in my plug here for Lee Harris’ book, Civilization and Its Enemies. It’s the Dr. Scott Book of the Year. To summarize an important theme of the book:

    1. Ruthlessness works, and always will; it’s inherent in the nature of things.
    2. To avoid being slaves of the ruthless, your society needs warriors.
    3. To avoid being slaves of your warriors, make sure they have the right code of ethics.
    4. Do this in advance, you can’t create these guys “just-in-time”.

    Mumion seems to be arguing that ethics are unimportant for soldiers. That’s wrong. It’s easy for Americans to make that mistake, they’ve lived with an ethical military for so long they’ve forgotten how to imagine the alternative. That sort of forgetfulness is another theme in the Harris book.

  • Finlay

    mumon,
    I served four years active duty as an Army officer. I maintain you really have no clue what you are talking about. I mean why embarass yourself?

  • Finlay

    mumon,
    I served four years active duty as an Army officer. I maintain you really have no clue what you are talking about. I mean why embarass yourself?

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com/ mumon

    Finlay:
    Thank you for your attempt at an argument from authority.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    Finlay:
    Thank you for your attempt at an argument from authority.

  • George

    Mr. Anderson: Actually, torture makes prisoners confess to all sorts of crimes they didn’t actually commit
    Jim, your comment, to be completely correct, should read: “Actually, torture can make prisoners confess to all sorts of crimes they didn’t actually commit.” Because it can do so, and because sometimes a scapegoat is good enough, I’m sure that many tortured people have admitted to things they didn’t do. But scapegoating is not always the goal of torture. The unfortunate truth is, torture can make reluctant arrestees admit to offenses (whether one agrees that a given offense should be an offense – as in Soviet repression – is irrelevant). The KGB wasn’t the most successful intelligence organization on the planet for a half-century because they were stupid or misunderstood human nature. Please don’t misunderstand – I abhor the very idea of torture. Unfortunately, the experience of the centuries tells us plainly that it can be extremely effective in expert hands.
    mumon:
    Hostile? Just because I think your ideas are silly doesn’t mean I feel hostile. Quite the contrary, in fact; I enjoyed responding to your post.
    But I must admit that I think your characterization of getting medical treatment for sick children because it provides a photo-op is cynical to the extreme and exhibits a complete lack of faith in people. I’m sorry your life has jaded you so.

  • George

    Mr. Anderson: Actually, torture makes prisoners confess to all sorts of crimes they didn’t actually commit
    Jim, your comment, to be completely correct, should read: “Actually, torture can make prisoners confess to all sorts of crimes they didn’t actually commit.” Because it can do so, and because sometimes a scapegoat is good enough, I’m sure that many tortured people have admitted to things they didn’t do. But scapegoating is not always the goal of torture. The unfortunate truth is, torture can make reluctant arrestees admit to offenses (whether one agrees that a given offense should be an offense – as in Soviet repression – is irrelevant). The KGB wasn’t the most successful intelligence organization on the planet for a half-century because they were stupid or misunderstood human nature. Please don’t misunderstand – I abhor the very idea of torture. Unfortunately, the experience of the centuries tells us plainly that it can be extremely effective in expert hands.
    mumon:
    Hostile? Just because I think your ideas are silly doesn’t mean I feel hostile. Quite the contrary, in fact; I enjoyed responding to your post.
    But I must admit that I think your characterization of getting medical treatment for sick children because it provides a photo-op is cynical to the extreme and exhibits a complete lack of faith in people. I’m sorry your life has jaded you so.

  • Shana Barrow

    Mumon: “Thank you for your attempt at an argument from authority.”
    And your argument is different from his how?
    Interacting with military personnel and being familiar with military tactics and theory isn’t really the same thing as being an actual soldier.
    Yeah, obviously I disagree with your views on this, but I would probably believe someone who’s actually been in a soldier’s boots than a civilian who skirts the perimeter of the military itself.
    The culture isn’t as simple as you make it out to be.

  • Shana Barrow

    Mumon: “Thank you for your attempt at an argument from authority.”
    And your argument is different from his how?
    Interacting with military personnel and being familiar with military tactics and theory isn’t really the same thing as being an actual soldier.
    Yeah, obviously I disagree with your views on this, but I would probably believe someone who’s actually been in a soldier’s boots than a civilian who skirts the perimeter of the military itself.
    The culture isn’t as simple as you make it out to be.

  • http://decorabilia.blogspot.com/ Jim Anderson

    George writes: “Unfortunately, the experience of the centuries tells us plainly that it can be extremely effective in expert hands.”
    George, it’s not that I’m disputing the effectiveness of the KGB–but that they were effective because of torture. This article (an insightful and disturbing interview with Michael Koubi) lends support. The evidence shows that crossing the line from psychological manipulation to outright torture makes the subject confess to anything merely to escape punishment.
    These quotes (from Koubi) are particularly instructive:

    How physical are you allowed to get during interrogations, with permission?
    Very low levels. It could be two slaps in one interrogation, or to shake him, but not very strongly, or to put a cover on his head to scare him. We have never insulted a person’s religion or humiliated them. There is no torture in the security services.
    What do you make of the torture and abuse that took place in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq?
    I don’t want to judge the Americans. In Gaza we have one security person for every 1000 people. In Iraq they have one for every 100,000. They have no information or intelligence on their detainees. Information is the beginning of interrogation, and if there is none, if there is no language between you and the detainee, sometimes you will use more power. That I presume is what happened in Abu Ghraib.
    Have those techniques ever been used in Israel?
    Sometimes it has happened, but very seldom, and in these cases the interrogators were thrown out of the organisation. I have no need for those methods. I use only psychology, head to head.

  • http://decorabilia.blogspot.com Jim Anderson

    George writes: “Unfortunately, the experience of the centuries tells us plainly that it can be extremely effective in expert hands.”
    George, it’s not that I’m disputing the effectiveness of the KGB–but that they were effective because of torture. This article (an insightful and disturbing interview with Michael Koubi) lends support. The evidence shows that crossing the line from psychological manipulation to outright torture makes the subject confess to anything merely to escape punishment.
    These quotes (from Koubi) are particularly instructive:

    How physical are you allowed to get during interrogations, with permission?
    Very low levels. It could be two slaps in one interrogation, or to shake him, but not very strongly, or to put a cover on his head to scare him. We have never insulted a person’s religion or humiliated them. There is no torture in the security services.
    What do you make of the torture and abuse that took place in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq?
    I don’t want to judge the Americans. In Gaza we have one security person for every 1000 people. In Iraq they have one for every 100,000. They have no information or intelligence on their detainees. Information is the beginning of interrogation, and if there is none, if there is no language between you and the detainee, sometimes you will use more power. That I presume is what happened in Abu Ghraib.
    Have those techniques ever been used in Israel?
    Sometimes it has happened, but very seldom, and in these cases the interrogators were thrown out of the organisation. I have no need for those methods. I use only psychology, head to head.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com/ mumon

    Shana Barrow:
    Interacting with military personnel and being familiar with military tactics and theory isn’t really the same thing as being an actual soldier.

    I’m not unfamiliar with military culture.
    You don’t have to rely on my word; you can read anyone from James F. Dunnigan to Gwynne Dyer and get a similar viewpoint.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    Shana Barrow:
    Interacting with military personnel and being familiar with military tactics and theory isn’t really the same thing as being an actual soldier.

    I’m not unfamiliar with military culture.
    You don’t have to rely on my word; you can read anyone from James F. Dunnigan to Gwynne Dyer and get a similar viewpoint.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com/ mumon

    George:
    I was being terse. See the last part of AndyS’s post.
    The military only considers “peacekeeping” in Iraq as necessary to …uh, what was the objective again…? I keep forgetting, because it keeps changing…oh, yeah, they want to “win hearts and minds” currently. They need “good deeds” well publicized to do that.
    It’s not jaded or cynical to say that. It’s a reality…except for the fact that the “mission,” like Gulf War I, has and had no viable exit strategy.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    George:
    I was being terse. See the last part of AndyS’s post.
    The military only considers “peacekeeping” in Iraq as necessary to …uh, what was the objective again…? I keep forgetting, because it keeps changing…oh, yeah, they want to “win hearts and minds” currently. They need “good deeds” well publicized to do that.
    It’s not jaded or cynical to say that. It’s a reality…except for the fact that the “mission,” like Gulf War I, has and had no viable exit strategy.

  • http://www.jesusphreaks.com/mt Scott

    Mumon said: “. . . and had no viable exit strategy.”
    To quote Tony Blair, “Our exit strategy is a functional {viable?} democracy in Iraq.”
    To which I would add, “. . . with the working infrastructure to support it which that implies.”

  • http://www.jesusphreaks.com/mt Scott

    Mumon said: “. . . and had no viable exit strategy.”
    To quote Tony Blair, “Our exit strategy is a functional {viable?} democracy in Iraq.”
    To which I would add, “. . . with the working infrastructure to support it which that implies.”

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com/ mumon

    To quote Tony Blair, “Our exit strategy is a functional {viable?} democracy in Iraq.”
    To which I would add, “. . . with the working infrastructure to support it which that implies.”

    Oh, goody. Can we have one in the USA at some point?

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    To quote Tony Blair, “Our exit strategy is a functional {viable?} democracy in Iraq.”
    To which I would add, “. . . with the working infrastructure to support it which that implies.”

    Oh, goody. Can we have one in the USA at some point?

  • Scott

    I don’t want to hear one word from an evangelical about torture – you lost that right at Abu Ghraib:
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/010/22.32.html
    Wooing the Faithful
    …The most tangible foreign policy problems for the administration have been the scandal at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and abusive treatment of suspected Al Qaeda terrorists in detention at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay naval base. After the pictures of Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse and torture were released, CT spoke with evangelical professionals in intelligence agencies, the State and Defense departments, and Congress.
    What emerged was troubling. Beyond setting Bush administration priorities, evangelicals were significantly involved in drafting policy memos that created the permissive climate in which the abuse of prisoners occurred. Asking not to be named, Christians who serve in federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies told CT that aggressive interrogation of suspected terrorists was no-holds-barred. Bob Woodward, the author of a definitive book on Bush’s war effort, told CT, “It was very clear from my interviews that [Bush] felt the gloves were off for the CIA.”
    In a February 7, 2002, executive order, the President wrote that he wanted prisoners in the war on terror treated “humanely” but also “consistent with military necessity.” He also explicitly argued that the Geneva Convention’s guidelines for treatment of prisoners of war did not apply to terrorists. Evangelical legal scholar John Yoo contributed to several of the legal memos for Attorney General John Ashcroft justifying much harsher interrogation techniques in the war against terrorism. Yoo declared, “Terrorists have no Geneva rights.” (The Geneva Conventions do not address how nations in wartime should handle persons who are agents of hostile, clandestine organizations rather than members of the military arm of a recognized government.)
    A well-known evangelical, Army Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, heads what some label a worldwide find-and-hit squad against terrorists. And one top Pentagon-related expert who taught officers how to interrogate Muslims is an evangelical….
    See also: http://billmon.org/archives/001518.html
    http://www.beliefnet.com/story/146/story_14608.html
    The Same General Boykin?
    It has the potential to be a public relations nightmare buried within a public relations nightmare: one of the major players in the Iraqi prison abuse scandal, it now appears, was the same general almost fired last year for describing the war on terror as a clash between Judeo-Christian values and Satan.
    According to testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, and new reporting from the New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh, the prison abuse scandal grew out of a decision to give greater influence to the Defense Intelligence unit, led by Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence–and his deputy, Lt. General William G. “Jerry” Boykin.
    Boykin made headlines last fall when it was revealed he had made numerous statements suggesting that America, as a Christian nation, is engaged in a battle against idolatrous Muslims. Enemies like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein “will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus,” Boykin said during an Oregon church gathering last year….
    …There is still much to be learned about Boykin’s role in the current scandal, including the pivotal question of whether his anti-Muslim views may have made him more prone to dehumanizing Muslim prisoners. What is already clear, however, is that Boykin’s evangelical supporters now find themselves in an awkward position. They have supported Boykin steadfastly but are wary about defending prisoner torture.
    Here is what is known so far about Boykin’s role in the prison abuse scandal: He is a main strategist for Cambone, who oversees a secret program with the goal of capturing and interrogating terrorism targets. According to an article by Seymour Hersh in the current New Yorker, the unit brought “unconventional methods” to Abu Ghraib as a way of getting better information about Iraqi insurgents….
    …So far, Christian leaders are standing by Boykin.
    “A lot of our people are just so tired of hearing about that whole situation, especially now that we’ve seen [the beheading of Nicholas Berg],” Michele Ammons, spokeswoman for the Christian Coalition, said last week. “I think it’s time to get over it. And that’s what I’m hearing.”
    Ammons, who said evangelical leaders have been consumed primarily with the gay marriage debate, added that the Christian Coalition would keep an online petition in support of Boykin on its homepage….

  • Scott

    I don’t want to hear one word from an evangelical about torture – you lost that right at Abu Ghraib:
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/010/22.32.html
    Wooing the Faithful
    …The most tangible foreign policy problems for the administration have been the scandal at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and abusive treatment of suspected Al Qaeda terrorists in detention at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay naval base. After the pictures of Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse and torture were released, CT spoke with evangelical professionals in intelligence agencies, the State and Defense departments, and Congress.
    What emerged was troubling. Beyond setting Bush administration priorities, evangelicals were significantly involved in drafting policy memos that created the permissive climate in which the abuse of prisoners occurred. Asking not to be named, Christians who serve in federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies told CT that aggressive interrogation of suspected terrorists was no-holds-barred. Bob Woodward, the author of a definitive book on Bush’s war effort, told CT, “It was very clear from my interviews that [Bush] felt the gloves were off for the CIA.”
    In a February 7, 2002, executive order, the President wrote that he wanted prisoners in the war on terror treated “humanely” but also “consistent with military necessity.” He also explicitly argued that the Geneva Convention’s guidelines for treatment of prisoners of war did not apply to terrorists. Evangelical legal scholar John Yoo contributed to several of the legal memos for Attorney General John Ashcroft justifying much harsher interrogation techniques in the war against terrorism. Yoo declared, “Terrorists have no Geneva rights.” (The Geneva Conventions do not address how nations in wartime should handle persons who are agents of hostile, clandestine organizations rather than members of the military arm of a recognized government.)
    A well-known evangelical, Army Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, heads what some label a worldwide find-and-hit squad against terrorists. And one top Pentagon-related expert who taught officers how to interrogate Muslims is an evangelical….
    See also: http://billmon.org/archives/001518.html
    http://www.beliefnet.com/story/146/story_14608.html
    The Same General Boykin?
    It has the potential to be a public relations nightmare buried within a public relations nightmare: one of the major players in the Iraqi prison abuse scandal, it now appears, was the same general almost fired last year for describing the war on terror as a clash between Judeo-Christian values and Satan.
    According to testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, and new reporting from the New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh, the prison abuse scandal grew out of a decision to give greater influence to the Defense Intelligence unit, led by Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence–and his deputy, Lt. General William G. “Jerry” Boykin.
    Boykin made headlines last fall when it was revealed he had made numerous statements suggesting that America, as a Christian nation, is engaged in a battle against idolatrous Muslims. Enemies like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein “will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus,” Boykin said during an Oregon church gathering last year….
    …There is still much to be learned about Boykin’s role in the current scandal, including the pivotal question of whether his anti-Muslim views may have made him more prone to dehumanizing Muslim prisoners. What is already clear, however, is that Boykin’s evangelical supporters now find themselves in an awkward position. They have supported Boykin steadfastly but are wary about defending prisoner torture.
    Here is what is known so far about Boykin’s role in the prison abuse scandal: He is a main strategist for Cambone, who oversees a secret program with the goal of capturing and interrogating terrorism targets. According to an article by Seymour Hersh in the current New Yorker, the unit brought “unconventional methods” to Abu Ghraib as a way of getting better information about Iraqi insurgents….
    …So far, Christian leaders are standing by Boykin.
    “A lot of our people are just so tired of hearing about that whole situation, especially now that we’ve seen [the beheading of Nicholas Berg],” Michele Ammons, spokeswoman for the Christian Coalition, said last week. “I think it’s time to get over it. And that’s what I’m hearing.”
    Ammons, who said evangelical leaders have been consumed primarily with the gay marriage debate, added that the Christian Coalition would keep an online petition in support of Boykin on its homepage….

  • http://mt.ektopos.com/parablemania Jeremy Pierce

    I could easily find out what things are true of you, Scott, and find someone with the same characteristics who did something awful. If I were to conclude that I shouldn’t listen to anything you say about a topic related to what that person did, then I would be doing what your comment did.

  • http://mt.ektopos.com/parablemania Jeremy Pierce

    I could easily find out what things are true of you, Scott, and find someone with the same characteristics who did something awful. If I were to conclude that I shouldn’t listen to anything you say about a topic related to what that person did, then I would be doing what your comment did.

  • http://mt.ektopos.com/parablemania/archives/000997.html Parableman

    Ethics of Torture

    A while back, Joe Carter wrote about the vile practice of hazing, i.e. torturing one’s own soldiers for the sake of combat readiness. One thing he wants to say is that this doesn’t just violate principles deontological ethicists will emphasize…

  • http://mt.ektopos.com/parablemania/archives/000997.html Parableman

    Ethics of Torture

    A while back, Joe Carter wrote about the vile practice of hazing, i.e. torturing one’s own soldiers for the sake of combat readiness. One thing he wants to say is that this doesn’t just violate principles deontological ethicists will emphasize…