In my earlier post I didn’t give Jim Manzi sufficient credit.
He argues that a systematic government policy of torture (as distinguished from the torturous acts that Americans have engaged in over the centuries) is 1. a radical break with American tradition, and 2. because of 1, is quite possibly (I would say definitely) damaging to American strategic interests.
Here’s the money quote, which I endorse wholeheartedly:
I am looking to tradition, settled practice and the wisdom of our forebears for guidance in a difficult situation. Among other things, this strikes me as the obviously conservative approach.
“The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”
—Major General Antonio Taguba, USA (Ret.)
Read the Report.
I’m not the only one who thinks this word is huge piece of deceptive and delusional spin. Seymour Hersh isn’t worrying about dictionary definitions, though:
I think there’s a way out of it, maybe. I can tell you one thing. Let’s all forget this word "insurgency". It’s one of the most misleading words of all. Insurgency assumes that we had gone to Iraq and won the war and a group of disgruntled people began to operate against us and we then had to do counter-action against them. That would be an insurgency. We are fighting the people we started the war against. We are fighting the Ba’athists plus nationalists. We are fighting the very people that started — they only choose to fight in different time spans than we want them to, in different places. We took Baghdad easily. It wasn’t because be won. We took Baghdad because they pulled back and let us take it and decided to fight a war that had been pre-planned that they’re very actively fighting.
In his testimony on January 7, Attorney General hopeful Alberto Gonzales said, "We had members of Al Qaeda, intent on killing Americans, flooding into or coming into Iraq."
Which is it? Coming or flooding? Does he know? Does anyone know, either in or outside of the (American or Iraqui) administration? Is the press asking?
Nobody I can find knows, or is telling–one or both. To what extent is the fight in Iraq with home-grown rebels, and to what extent is it with the international web of Islamic fundamentalists?
The New York Times reported yesterday that the U.S. is holding 325 foreign fighters captured in Iraq. (With no Geneva protection, natch.) What percentage of captured fighters does that represent? Couldn’t commanders in Iraq give us a reasonable estimate of that percentage?
It’s impossible to make reality-based decisions about Iraq if we don’t even know these facts. Has anyone even seen an estimate?
If there’s one thing I admire, it’s people who are willing to acknowledge when they’re wrong. In that spirit, I must concede my sister’s point: "Insurgent" comes from roots meaning "rising up," not my assumed meaning of "surging in."
Dictionary.com definitions for "insurgent"
So, it’s a perfectly accurate word to describe the anti-American (and quite arguably anti-Iraqui) fighters in Iraq.
But I still think there’s Rove-spin behind it.