Torture, terrorism and Iran

One of my LinkdIn groups posted this articlefrom Commentary magazine.  It’s title will tell you everything you need to know about the content of the article.

“Killing Iranian Scientists is Not Terrorism”

The argument (such as it is) revolves around the old idea that everything America does, by definition, is good and pure and Iran (and, I suppose the rest of the world as well) is evil and base.  Therefore killing foreign nationals isn’t a problem so long as it’s in our national interest.

And let’s be clear.  The killing of Iranian scientists, if done by (or by the direction of) a foreign power is an act of terrorism.  Just look at the FBI’s definition:

International terrorism involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any state, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or any state. These acts appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping.

So, let’s dispense with any nonsense discussion about whether this is terrorism or not.

This seems to have parallels between this and the Orwellian discussion about torture that’s seemed to have died down (but not resolved).  And in that vein, I’ll recommend this article from the Atlantic that does a little ‘compare and contrast’ between our ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ and the Inquisition.

The Inquisition, with its stipulation that torture and interrogation not jeopardize life or cause irreparable harm, actually set a more rigorous standard than some proponents of torture insist on now…the Bush administration put forth a very narrow definition, arguing that for an action to be deemed torture, it must produce suffering “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” To place this in perspective: the administration’s threshold for when an act of torture begins was the point at which the Inquisition stipulated that it must stop.

Nice…always a good sign when you can’t even come out on top of a moral comparison with a movement responsible for the death of thousands.

Dan Drezner tries to figure out what the recent assassinations and public statements by both the US and Israel mean.  He puts some weight behind the categorical denials by US spokespeople that there was no US involvement in the assassinations while Israel gives non-answer answers that only draw attention and suspicion to themselves.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US has warned Israel not to launch any sort of pre-emptive strike on Iran so make of that what you will.

What may be the real shocker of this story is the report that Israeli Mossad agents, posing as CIA agents, recruited Pakitani terrorists to carry out assassinations in Iran.

Sounds like a bad spy movie, right?  Well, give this a read (really, check out this story).  At the very least it deserves a close look.  There is some ‘good’ news here (well, everything is relative).  It looks like the administration doesn’t give Israel a total blank check.

Israel regularly proposes conducting covert operations targeting Iranians, but is just as regularly shut down, according to retired and current intelligence officers. “They come into the room and spread out their plans, and we just shake our heads,” one highly placed intelligence source said, “and we say to them — ‘Don’t even go there. The answer is no.'”

Look, I’m not some shmoe who thinks Iran is some great country and the big, bad U.S. of A is out to kill a bunch of innocent people just to fill the pockets of some robber barons (ok, well maybe that last part a bit).  But C’mon. We have time and every reason to believe that Iran is a rational actor.  That means even if they got a bomb the deterrent from Israel and/or the US would make an Iranian first strike highly unlikely.

But we’re not even at that point yet.  Sanctions continue to bite, there’s clearly domestic unrest and Iran has few real allies.   Let’s not push Iran from pressure to negotiate to backs against the wall and nothing to lose.




One response to “Torture, terrorism and Iran

  1. Pingback: good news (“resist not evil”) « JRFibonacci's blog: partnering with reality

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