Monday, September 25, 2006

The Stench of Evil from the National Review

The National Review is often lauded as the pre-eminent "intellectual" conservative magazine. Maybe that was true in the days of William F. Buckley, but not in these jaded times when the "Coulterization of conservatism" holds sway. But the National Review also claims to have a "Catholic" influence. But this magazine has now reached its nadir, taking a position that is arguably worse than its support for segregation in times past. For it has defended torture on "end-justifies-the-means" consequentialist grounds.

Of course, this is the very antithesis of Catholic reasoning which holds that it is never licit to deliberately engage in an objectively evil act to bring about some good, no matter how great this purported good will be. And attacks on human life and human dignity are evil acts. This underlies the standard Catholic opposition to abortion and "assisted suicide". But it goes far beyond that, although many on the right some unaware of it. For example, eminent Catholic philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe excoriated Harry Truman, branding him a war criminal for his complicity in the deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This was the embodiment of pure consequentialist reasoning: better kill a lot of people now, and bring the war to a quick end, therefore saving untold lives in the future (especially more highly-valued American lives). This was an evil act in 1945, and it remains and evil act today. But we hear the same kind of reasoning employed by the Bushites in residence at the National Review editorial board, when they opine:

"Not only did the White House not fold, it got a good deal, one that will preserve the life-saving CIA-interrogation program.... In the end, the caterwauling of McCain & Co. over the administration’s supposed desire to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions may serve a useful function in public diplomacy. The whole world has now seen the administration supposedly bow to McCain’s desire to "preserve" our Geneva obligations, but the CIA program will continue anyway. That’s not such a bad outcome."
It even mentions the "apparent" exception of waterboarding on the list of approved torture (sorry, coercive interrogation) techniques, dubbing it "a controversial but highly effective technique." Columnist Rich Lowry goes further and claims that "waterboarding saved American lives". Many, especially those with expertise in these matters, claim that torture is counterproductive. While true, this is not really the point: even if these techniques saved millions of lives, they would still be wrong. The National Review disgusts me. It is formally endorsing the techniques refined by the Soviet gulags (hypothermia), the Japanese during World War II (waterboarding) and the Viet Cong (long-standing-- used against John McCain himself). Welcome to the world of moral relativism, the underlying philosophy of the Bushite universe.


Sensible Yet Annoyed said...

Well, well, another example of pointless pharasaical BSing.

Meanwhile our enemies are free to do whatever they want. Just like the enemies of yesteryear--fat lot of good the Geneva Conventions did for McCain, right? The same good it did the crew of the USS Pueblo? Or Francis Gary Powers? Or these guys--

Morning's Minion said...

Somebody who adopts the name "sensible" would do well to refrain from quoting nutjobs like Michelle Malkin. This is the woman who gets incensed over the treatment of three convicted terrorists in Indonesia because they happen to be Christian. What were the issues? As Glenn Greenwald points out, we are talking about suppressed evidence and witnesses ignored. As Glenn says "I thought (from having read Michelle's blog) that people who were concerned about due process for terrorists are themselves pro-terrorists"! So, rights for terrorists... except in the United States. Malkin is an arch-hypocrite, and she also claims to be Catholic... yeah, right.