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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 28, 2005 / 19 Adar I, 5765

The ethics of torture: Real life is lived on the slippery slope

By George Friedman


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Torture, once something we expected to hear about in a Third World country, has become a critical policy issue in the United States. Senior government officials are writing memos on the subject. The kind of simplistic shouting we have come to expect on all sides of all issues has come to torture. There is something absurd in thinking about torture: It is impossible not to think about it — and when you do, it is never simple.

Some say that torture is never justified. But assume for a moment that it were discovered that a nuclear device was planted in an American city, due to detonate in 12 hours. Someone was arrested who certainly knew where the bomb was located. He wouldn't talk. It would seem to me that any course other than torturing the man would be the height of immorality. Making an absolute argument against torture would mean that the lives of tens of thousands were worth less than the rights of this one man. I personally couldn't accept that.

Consider another example. Assume that a person was arrested who did not know where the bomb was, but did know the location of the man who did know and wouldn't reveal it. Would that torture be acceptable? It's a little less clear, but the same principle would hold.

Assume that there were 10 people who might know the location of the person who knew where the bomb was. All claimed not to know, but one certainly did. Would torturing all 10 to get the truth be justified? If torturing one person to save tens of thousands is justified, why not 10?

Let's say that the number were 100, and let's say that it wasn't a nuclear device — but rather there was a rumor that a car bomb might have been planted. Would torturing all 100 people be justified to save several hundred?

Going further down the slippery slope, let's say that there was a group of terrorists who were thought to be planning a strike. Would torturing anyone captured to find others be acceptable?

In reality, the circumstances in which torture takes place are never clear-cut. Life is lived further down the slippery slope. The problem with the slope is that, eventually, you slide down it to become the monster you were supposed to be fighting. On the other hand, to simply assert that torture is never justified is morally absurd. Surely in the first case, torture is obligatory. If you are willing to let a city die rather than torture a single person, you have become a moral monster just as surely as if you were randomly torturing innocent people.

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Those who are charged with keeping the United States secure live on that slippery slope. They have to make decisions. They have to act on uncertainties. They have to live in a world of uncertain facts and justified terrors. They know that whatever decision they make will be reviewed meticulously by others who did not bear that burden. It is easy to be moral when you have no obligations, no responsibilities and no one depending on you. It is much more difficult to know how to make moral decisions in the real world of U.S. intelligence and security.

The debate over torture has developed a cartoon-like quality. On the one side, the view is, "Rip their guts out. If the detainees turn out not to know anything, they should be grateful to have served a just cause." On the other side, there are those who condemn torture in all its forms everywhere. I wonder if they would hold such a view if torture could save the life of one of their children.

In the philosophy class, the newspaper column and the coffee shop, these are interesting topics to discuss. Out in the war, where men and women make snap decisions that could affect all of our lives, things are more difficult and opaque. I would not like to be a man called upon to draft a memo on torture that others must follow. Nor would I care to be a man who had to make a decision on whether to torture someone. But I have little respect for the simplistic arguments — on both sides — that have framed the torture issue. Real life is much more complicated than that.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and the media consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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George Friedman is chairman of Strategic Forecasting, Inc., dubbed by Barron's as "The Shadow CIA," it's one of the world's leading global intelligence firms, providing clients with geopolitical analysis and industry and country forecasts to mitigate risk and identify opportunities. Stratfor's clients include Fortune 500 companies and major governments.


02/17/05: Hezbollah: The terrorist threat on the horizon
02/07/05: Why are the Chinese moving their money out of China?
02/03/05: Next Pope could, and maybe should, be a Third-Worlder
01/27/05: Decision-day in Iran: Is it for or against United States?
01/14/05: Russia's missile sale to Syria gets back at U.S. over Ukraine
01/06/05: Tsunami realities: Most in need are least likely to get help


© 2005 TMS