Hard Choices

Written as a commentary regarding the release of the Senate investigation into the Bush administrations’s interrogation of the terrorists behind the WTC attack, and others:
I agree with the basic theme, that torture is morally wrong, but failing to do all that you can to protect the citizens you’re responsible for is also wrong. The difficulty comes in deciding what ‘all that you can’ means.
For political leaders, there’s rarely a ‘right’ choice. Most of the choices have a degree of ‘wrong’ about them. It’s why politicians get blamed not only for what they do but also for what they fail to do.
I’m not as certain about the answer as most appear to be.
Short term, the choice Bush and Cheney made was probably correct. Long term, they were probably wrong. No one knew, going in, whether the harsh approach they tried would work.
The attack on the WTC was a symptom; the disease is expansionist Islam. And no one yet has a solution.
There’s a fundamental problem; we’re trying to send the jihadists to the corner so they can meditate on the mischief they’ve caused, they’re looking for matches to burn the house down.
We know that some countries support this anti-Crusade, including Saudi Arabia. But they have oil, we need oil, so we tolerate their mostly-covert support for people who attack us. Hard choices.
The mosques, many of them, are places where preachers preach hate and death and destruction. We know this, but because they’re churches, centers of religion, we dare not destroy them. The madrassas teach the Koran, they brainwash students into believing that their only value is in dying for religion, martyrdom. We don’t attack those either. Hard choices.
Bush and others made hard choices. There were, are, consequences. But they’ve never acknowledged the hard choices, never admitted that more than morality was involved. There was also ‘face’, the urge to finish what father had started, and profit, oil from places like Iraq. Maybe the choices weren’t so hard after all.
But we must judge solely on what they did, because they’ve never explained their thinking. Were they right, or wrong? I don’t know. If their efforts saved lives, then the hard decision was justified. If not, and we may never know the truth of this, they were wrong.
Unfortunately, right or wrong, we citizens are the ones who must face the consequences of what the Bush-Cheney administration did.
I’m not going to agonize over whether the jihadists will use this as a pretext to launch new attacks. Pretexts they’ve got; the motive for Islam is always the same, kill, destroy, intimidate. Force nonbelievers to submit. That’s what the word means, after all.
Are there moderate Muslims? Some claim there are. But the radicals get the press, and the moderates don’t repudiate them. Even where moderation is supposed to exist, in places such as the US and Britain and Europe, we see former moderate believers become radicalized, decide to leave for the ME and join ISIS. That doesn’t seem to be common in other religions, conversion by coercion. Or kidnapping for fun and profit, then executing the hostage even after he’s converted. Expansionist, radical, Islam also has an element of thuggery about it.
Hard choices; but at some point, at some time, we’re going to be faced with other hard choices.
Can we coexist with radical Islam? Or will we be forced to engage in a campaign to eradicate them or at least suppress them so the point they’re more irritant than danger.
Hard choices.
So far, they’re winning. We’re being forced to change, they’re not.
And part of that change is that government officials, here in the US and elsewhere, are making hard choices we wish weren’t necessary.
Harsh interrogations, maybe successful or maybe not? Or see another disaster unfold where innocent citizens are killed for no better reason than that their deaths terrorize others.
We’re going to have to make hard choices too.

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