McCain on Waterboarding
November 29, 2007 6:53 PM   Subscribe

McCain on Waterboarding.

From the article:
I’m not particularly impressed with the recent debates in YouTube format hosted by CNN. The cable network’s management of the process has involved too many serious errors in judgment for that to go unnoticed. But in the end it’s the candidates’ responses which mark the low point. Even so, these debates have their moments, and I find on occasion there are passages that are truly inspirational. Last night, John McCain’s response to a question about waterboarding was just that. He found the right pitch and the right moral voice on the question, and his words lifted the debate up for a few minutes on what continues to emerge, just as John McCain says, as the defining issue in the 2008 campaign. This is the not-to-be-missed exchange from the debate.
Ken Silverstein's last article for Harper's, Making Mitt Romney: How to fabricate a conservative, is also worth a look.
posted by chunking express (45 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
slboe?
posted by empath at 6:59 PM on November 29, 2007


i'm against wankerblogging, too
posted by pyramid termite at 7:08 PM on November 29, 2007


I'm cheering on McCain so that Giuliani can beat Romney and then the evangelists won't vote for anyone.

Go McCain!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:10 PM on November 29, 2007


slboe?

Perhaps, but this is somewhat interesting to watch a prominent member of GOP separate himself from Fox/24-derived foreign policy, beyond watching the GOP devour itself in its layers of hypocrisies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:11 PM on November 29, 2007


Romney's stances on social issues circa 1994. (referenced in the article)
posted by DaShiv at 7:15 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


The fact that semi-serious presidential candidates are debating on whether it's ok to drown people in order to get information from them is well, sick.
Get new politicians. The ones you have are a sorry, sorry joke.
posted by signal at 7:16 PM on November 29, 2007 [4 favorites]


On one hand, I'm very much in favor of McCain's well reasoned and high-road take on the issue. On the other hand, I very much wanted to see McCain run across the stage and beat Mitt Romney's ass.
posted by jiiota at 7:16 PM on November 29, 2007 [4 favorites]


Pfff. If McCain really thought waterboarding was a war crime, he'd be working to impeach at the very least. His "right pitch" and "moral voice" are designed to make him sound mavericky.

It's especially despicable coming from someone who really should know better.
posted by DU at 7:19 PM on November 29, 2007


Waterboarding is what the Japanese did to American soldiers in World War II. America charged them with war crimes.

Why hasn't anyone asked any of the Republican candidates if they think those American soldiers weren't tortured by the Japanese? And if they don't think they were subjected to torture, do they support an apology to the Japanese government for falsely accusing their soldiers of torture?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:20 PM on November 29, 2007 [16 favorites]


Thank god one republican actually was tortured or exactly none of them would be strongly against it.
posted by found missing at 7:20 PM on November 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Mitt Romney: The Huckster.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:23 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I listened to this clip on the Democracy Now podcast this morning and it made my stomach turn. Honestly, Romney makes me sick. That he could stand up there and argue semantics with McCain -- ugh. And then to say that he would take McCain's counsel into account! It's craven.
posted by sugarfish at 7:29 PM on November 29, 2007


McCain's answer to the waterboarding question didn't receive anywhere near the level of applause that his claim that the American public lost the Vietnam war did (apparently the military never lost a single battle).
posted by Poolio at 7:34 PM on November 29, 2007


Hmm... He's not quite recovered from the spinectomy the Bush team gave him though is he?
posted by Artw at 7:36 PM on November 29, 2007


yeah well when America finally admits to loosing Iraqi they will blame the public too.
posted by edgeways at 7:45 PM on November 29, 2007


And those no good backstabbing Iraqis who didn't want freedom.
posted by Artw at 7:48 PM on November 29, 2007


Do these delicious waffles make my torture appear equivocal?
Mmmm.
This syrup needs more waterboard flava.
posted by isopraxis at 7:51 PM on November 29, 2007


Republicans love to be tortured. Well, recently it seems like they like the boys, but whatever.
posted by caddis at 8:01 PM on November 29, 2007


Thank god...

...yet.
posted by pompomtom at 8:14 PM on November 29, 2007


Why hasn't anyone asked any of the Republican candidates if they think those American soldiers weren't tortured by the Japanese?

Hmmm, if only there was some sort of debate where regular folks could send in their own questions.
posted by brevator at 8:15 PM on November 29, 2007


What Romney and others of his mindset believe is that 1) waterboarding is not torture; 2) it is effective; 3) if we tell the enemy that we will use this technique, then they will train their combatants to mentally prepare for it.

This is the reasoning behind Romney saying in the clip, "I'm not going to specify the specific means on what is and what is not torture so that the people that we capture will know what things we're able to do and what things we're not able to do."

I believe that Romney believes that waterboarding is effective as long as the enemy doesn't train to resist it. I believe that he doesn't think it's torture.

If this was a quote from the Nuremberg trials, the speaker just might be facing the noose. This is not the kind of country I want to be living in. The electorate needs to gain a historic and moral perspective before they join in such a criminal conspiracy.
posted by F Mackenzie at 8:27 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does anyone really believe that al-Qaeda, et al, aren't already training people to resist waterboarding? It's like when the consises got all het up about the "revelation" that we're going after terrorist bank accounts- how fucking dumb (projection?) do they think the terrorists are?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:34 PM on November 29, 2007


Why hasn't anyone asked any of the Republican candidates if they think those American soldiers weren't tortured by the Japanese?

I asked that exact question, but it was not aired. Of course, I asked it in an excitable tone and speaking in Arabic while I burned an American flag, but I don't see how that could have affected anything.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:37 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


You can't believe anything that comes out of Romney's mouth. Mormon's are raised to lie about what they really believe. There's simply no way to know if he's for torture or against it, or what he would do when he was president. You can be sure he'll say whatever it takes to win, though.
posted by empath at 8:40 PM on November 29, 2007


The best moment was during the question, "would Jesus carry out the death penalty?" You could almost hear the blood vessels exploding inside the candidates brains as they tried to avoid answering the question directly.
posted by specialfriend at 8:50 PM on November 29, 2007


apparently the military never lost a single battle

On usenet in the 90s I saw a tagline of a regular contributor to soc.history.war.vietnam that said: "We were winning when I left".

These words were true 1968-1973, but it's safe to say the American public had reached our collective pain tolerance WRT being drafted and sent to die in SE Asia around mid-1969, at the time of the Hamburger Hill battle in the A Shau valley.

This resulted in Kissinger & Nixon wanting to remove the Vietnam War from their reelection equation by 1972, and they essentially sold the Saigon regime out in the peace accords of 1973.

The more I study the 1973-75 period the more I lean toward a rather craven and pound-foolish abandonment of the Saigon regime by the Congress (and, secondarily, the Executive), but the bottom line is the military geography of the conflict really precluded either the US or ARVN from being able to sufficiently defend itself from the continued predations of the PAVN.

We fought many bloody brigade-scale battles to deny PAVN the DMZ, the A Shau valley, the Dak To area, the Iron Triangle just north of Saigon, etc but by late 1974 the NVN had fully reestablished their logistics presence in these areas, and ARVN was simply unable to defend itself, stretched as it was from Quang Tri to the delta.

As a crass way of looking at it, the US left the game after the top of the 7th with the score tied. The US people, and their Congress, had grown tired of this game, which was of course theoretically winnable but at an unknowable cost to both us, the Vietnamese people, and the rest of SE Asia.

posted by panamax at 9:03 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


You can't believe anything that comes out of Romney's mouth. Mormon's are raised to lie about what they really believe.

Really? All of them? Sounds like a lazy generalization to me.
posted by Avenger50 at 9:58 PM on November 29, 2007


For me, the defining moment of this campaign so far has been this exchange right here on MetaFilter, in the Ron Paul thread:
streetdreams: The fact that Ron Paul has the endorsement of both Stormfront and the John Birch Society tells me everything I need to know.

pandaharma: The fact that the John Birch society is more pacifist and more anti-torture than the leading Democrats should tell you all you need to know.
I followed pandaharma's links. I skimmed the article on the JBS site about Iran (threatening them is stupid; we will only create more angry anti-Western fundamentalists, just like we did in Iraq; it's not the end of the world if Iran has nukes) and I skimmed the article about torture (it's bad; waterboarding counts; we should fucking stop doing it). And I found myself nodding as I read, thinking to myself, "Yeah, that's pretty much how it is. Not that complicated." And then I realized that the fucking John Fucking Birch Society is the fucking voice of reason this fucking time around. The John Birch Society (just so I'm clear). And I also realized the ... err ... truth of the following truism:
When the John Birch Society is to the left of every mainstream candidate, the shit has hit the fucking fan.
It's not time to march. It's not time to write letters. It's not even fucking time to vote. It's time to hole up in your cabin in fucking Montana with an AK and a pallet of canned goods, or to run like hell.
posted by enn at 10:39 PM on November 29, 2007 [9 favorites]


enn the JBS doesn't have to win the votes of the majority of the electorate that as a whole probably couldn't still find the US of A on a map, let alone Iraq.

The recent Time/Joe Klein issue is quite demonstrative of the current predicament the american experiment finds itself in; Time, via Klein, reported that the Democrat's change to the FISA bill would give foreign terrorists the same rights as Americans.

This is flat out Republican "smear-mongering", yet it is the state of the infantilized debate we find ourselves in. The problem is not the press, it is the people. That Russ Feingold didn't think he could run in the current environment is what's got me eyeing that cabin out in BFE.
posted by panamax at 12:12 AM on November 30, 2007


I'm sure the Khmer-Rouge's use of waterboarding was purely therapeutic, kind of like a spa treatment. Sarcasm aside, the fact that KR used waterboarding says all I need to know about how bad it is.

I'm sure a lot of these asshole politicians would have been cheering on the Spanish inquisition back in the day.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:49 AM on November 30, 2007


"We were winning when I left".

These words were true 1968-1973, ...


As somebody who lived through the 1968 Tet offensive, allow me to point out that you're wrong. What we were doing in 1968-73 was expanding the war to noncombatant countries to try and cut the enemy's supply lines. That didn't work out.

Vietnam was a stupid war, launched in order to deny a people their right to self-determination. We should cut that shit out.


Get new politicians. The ones you have are a sorry, sorry joke.

Tell me about it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:21 AM on November 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


The best moment was during the question, "would Jesus carry out the death penalty?"

It's question 19, on this page if anyone else wants to see it.
posted by teleskiving at 4:01 AM on November 30, 2007


Is there a transcript?
posted by garlic at 8:19 AM on November 30, 2007


What we were doing in 1968-73 was expanding the war to noncombatant countries to try and cut the enemy's supply lines

How could we be fighting PAVN in these countries if they were "noncombatant"?

You are correct that the unsolvable military problem was isolating the battlefield (the South) from the North.

launched in order to deny a people their right to self-determination

There is a human rights issue involved when "self-determination" involves totalitarianism. I agree that we largely inherited the French colonialist role in trying to set up a friendly Saigon regime in the face of widespread if not universal internal opposition, but I also understand how we naturally fell into thinking VN was another Korean conflict thing.
posted by panamax at 8:44 AM on November 30, 2007


How could we be fighting PAVN in these countries if they were "noncombatant"?

Did Cambodia or Laos declare war or send soldiers to fight against us? No, they didn't. That makes them noncombatants.

There is a human rights issue involved when "self-determination" involves totalitarianism.

Ho Chi Minh was wildly popular in both halves of his country. It's not up to you to define for people whether their choice is 'totalitarian' or whatever other scare label you want to put on it. Self determination means they get to choose. If you don't like their choice, it's your problem. Punishing them for making a choice you don't like makes you a bully, and if you've made a lot of noise about self-determination when it suited you, it makes you a hypocrite, too.

I agree that we largely inherited the French colonialist role in trying to set up a friendly Saigon regime in the face of widespread if not universal internal opposition, but I also understand how we naturally fell into thinking VN was another Korean conflict thing.

First, we didn't 'inherit' the French role; we assumed it. Second, the situation was so far from being anything like Korea that it's silly to even make the comparison. The Vietnamese had been fighting for their independence since the Japanese invaded. North Vietnam did not invade a free and independent South; they, and the VC, fought to eject foreign rulers. First, the Japanese, then, the French, then the U.S.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:02 AM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


My friend has this to say on the subject, which I quite like: 'You know the saying “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it”. Isn’t torture kind of like that? i.e. if it’s obviously not torture then there is no question. But if you have to ask if something is torture then the answer is yes, it’s torture.'
posted by chunking express at 9:48 AM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Kirth: I don't necessarily disagree with the broad strokes of your argument but I do think the situation was a little more complex than that. NVN was able to dominate Laos, and the Cambodians were more than willing to see NVN use their territory militarily, which is not being a "noncombatant".

We were not the rulers of SVN, if we actually had been, we would (perhaps) have been able to establish a more effective ARVN and socio-political client state than we ended up having with Thieu.

I understand the continuation of the Vietminh->NLF->DRVN, however by the same token many, many of the southern NLF-types came to deeply regret having the Hanoi regime take over the entire country.

I dislike the term "pacified", I think a better term is "sterilized", but at any rate the situation in 1974 was looking rather up for the S Vietnamese, internally. The "Land to the Tiller" reforms of 1969-1970 had essentially removed sharecropping, a great leap in economic justice, and really the surviving VC really didn't have much of an attraction any more.

The bottom line is that I don't hold any great respect for the NVN regime and understand the motivation that led the American people to attempt to establish a client state for the Vietnamese that didn't want to live subject to Hanoi. The problem IMV was we took over too much of the fighting from ARVN, and, perhaps more importantly, the GVN itself wasn't worth dying for until the 1970s, if then.

posted by panamax at 10:57 AM on November 30, 2007


Jeeze, pal, you already know I'm an old guy. Now you're going to make me squint to read your latest history revisions? Screw that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:20 AM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


which was of course theoretically winnable but at an unknowable cost to both us, the Vietnamese people, and the rest of SE Asia.

"You can kill ten of our men for every one we kill of yours. But even at those odds, you will lose and we will win." -- Ho Chi Minh
posted by kirkaracha at 12:22 PM on November 30, 2007


“Does anyone really believe that al-Qaeda, et al, aren't already training people to resist waterboarding?”

No such thing as resisting waterboarding. (The implication that you can resist revealing information even if you’re waterboarded is wrong. But the implication that the use of waterboarding can reveal useful information is wrong as well.)

Y’know, same thing with Vietnam. You can blow the hell out of the enemy every time you engage him and if what you’re fighting for is the wrong thing or how you’re fighting is the wrong way there’s no such thing as winning.
Losing either. It’s just destruction. Some things can’t be accomplished with force and bullets. The only real question becomes: when does it get intolerable?

Same deal with torture. No such thing as accomplishment when it’s used. No reliable information. It’s just destroying a human through intolerable pain.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:08 PM on November 30, 2007


If I was going to rewrite the Viet Nam war, i'd add more lasers and elephants.
posted by chunking express at 1:31 PM on November 30, 2007


I'd subtract all the Americans.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:37 PM on November 30, 2007


kirkaracha: Vietnam was only winnable if the Southerners wanted it, *and* if they received sufficient support from the "Free World" to defend themselves against Hanoi's military power.

By 1974 events had devolved such that the Hanoi regime was in a very strong strategic position against the South even though its support in the S had dramatically fallen due to the decade+ "pacification" and the growing viability of the Saigon regime as a responsive government worth dying for.

Nobody outside the wingnuts knows the story of how the US Congress more or less abandoned the Saigon regime in 1974-75; had we supported them then like we did in 1972 [only 43 US draftees were KIA in SVN that year -- by 1972 our support was almost entirely air power, advisors, and materiel], ARVN might have been able to hold the country.

Given the immense suffering in SVN 1975-85, it's hard to argue that the Vietnamese were better off under Hanoi.
posted by panamax at 6:58 PM on November 30, 2007


Nobody outside the wingnuts knows the story ...

There's a very good reason for that. Nobody but them pays any attention to the story because it's just that, a work of fiction.

Given the immense suffering in SVN 1975-85, it's hard to argue that the Vietnamese were better off under Hanoi.

You've never been in, let alone lived in, a war zone, have you? You have no idea what you're talking about.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:33 AM on December 1, 2007


A Nation That Tortures.
posted by chunking express at 8:50 AM on December 1, 2007


« Older Here is an incredibly detailed history of Glasgow ...  |  A great quick read from the NY... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments