I'm watching the news, and I'm reading the papers, and I'm listening to NPR, but I just can't seem to get worked up about American soldiers using torture tactics on prisoners of war. Isn't that what's expected?
I've never deeply contemplated my own capture by an enemy nation but, at some basic level, I think I have always understood that if it came to that, I would not be treated very gently by my captors. I am 100% in favor of kindness, but when the well-being of entire nations hangs on the timely conclusion of a military operation, I can understand the need to get information out of a prisoner.
Before all you imaginary readers go off on me, I get the fact that our recent Iraqi operations were conceived on falsehoods and bungled at every step. I also hear (and agree with) the argument that mistreating prisoners out of meanness or hatred can never be tolerated. If Americans used torture tactics for any reason other than to gain strategic information and conclude the ongoing atrocities as quickly as possible, then I agree that they behaved immorally and should be punished. But if you are paying attention, you know that is not the center of the current public debate.
The most difficult part for me to comprehend is that everyone seems to accept the soldier's mandate to kill. Isn't that an order of magnitude more reprehensible than torture? No moral problem there?
You don't have to accept "kill" but if you do, then you must also accept "torture" as a far less grievous assault. The current public attitude that accepts killing but not torturing doesn't add up and seems to have prevented me from conjuring any moral outrage about this issue.