Originally composed May 30th as a comment on The Liberal Heretic
These words are from Niccolo Machiavelli in the early sixteenth century. Even today they are tinged with cynicisms that most instinctively recoil from. As leader of a nation of 300 million people the POTUS makes life and death decisions everyday. I can not imagine the duress that Mr. Bush was under when he made this decision. Because he is a man of faith I am sure that it was not easy for him. I cannot say what the line is between tough interaction techniques and torture. As with pornography, I think I’ll know it when I see it. Water boarding looks like torture to me. I don’t believe I could have authorized its use; even knowing that it would cost innocent lives. War is an ugly business and drives people to do things they would not do under any other circumstances. Morality is not a mathematical ledger sheet. There are no easy answers, each choice has great costs. This matter will be judged by our grandchildren in the same way that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are judged today.
What is crystal clear is that Mr. Obama does not agree with me. He wishes to set up some perfect third choice. He claims that it was illegal for the last administration to do these things but not so illegal that they should be prosecuted. He claims that theses techniques are evil but not so evil that he will never use them. Clearly this illustrates that he believes in a situational morality. He believes in complex set of ideas that allows him any action given the appropriate situation. He can not lie unless it is about bad politicians. He can not steal except from those whom haven’t given their fair share. These people can not be tortured because of these circumstances, those people can. I find this idea horrifying. Wasn’t it thinking like this what lead Rwandans to kill women and children with machetes because of what tribe they belong to? Mr. Obama is using this incident to placate his partisan base. He is trying to use the emotional response that many Americans have to the horror of war to assuage leftwing activists with out making substantive changes to the way he wages the war on terror. I am disheartened to say that he has shown no principles concerning his actions as long as he achieves his goals. His only measurement is; have the ends justified the means. Mr. Obama maybe a cunning politician but he should remember another axiom, all glory is fleeting.
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