Debater 1: I think torture is wrong.But here we are, debating ways to redefine the Geneva Conventions so that we can engage in activities that are universally decried as torture. Here we are, The United States of America, the shining city on the hill, modifying a treaty obligation that has never been a burden adhering to for 57 years, through multiple wars, and enshrining torture with color of law at the same time.
Debater 2: I agree with you.
I really do not understand this. I can't believe that we're openly calling for the embrace of torture. Do our leaders not realize that in order to win this Global Counterinsurgency, our moral authority is even more important than our military might? If this was symmetric war, where the devastation and capitulation of a defined enemy was the target, then so be it - letting your opinion in the world burn in order to achieve military victory might be worthwhile. But in counterinsurgency your main objective is to stem the flow of recruits, a task to which the use of military force is antithetical. Put simply, if this conflict is fought as an ordinary war we assure our utter failure, as Bush's execution of the War thus far has proven.
The really painful thing here is that the person advocating torture isn't some kook academic cloistered in a thinktank - he's the President of the United States of America, and he's sullying all of us while simultaneously making us less safe. I know that sounds awfully like a "blame America first" position, or that I "care more about protecting the terrorists than the American people," but that is, of course, ridiculous. This has nothing to do with Al Qaeda - it has everything to do with America, who we are as a people, and whether or not we want to get serious about winning the War on Terror, because with these policies we are an immoral nation and we will never be safe.
I am chagrined to even forward an argument, but lets do so for a sense of completeness, shall we?
Regardless of the specifics of the Geneva Convention itself, the reason America ratified the Convention was to protect our soldiers from unacceptable treatment. That protection of our soldiers is achieved by the common standards set out in the Convention - in other words, you get the protection for your own soldiers you guarantee to soldiers you capture. So, when looking at modifications to the Geneva Conventions, the first thing America needs to consider is whether our new standards would be acceptable when applied to our soldiers.
Under President Bush's standards for detainee treatment, Iran could capture a non-uniformed special agent, torture a confession from him, convict him in a special court without allowing him to see the evidence against him, and execute him. If one of our soldiers was subjected to that treatment, Iran could claim what it did was completely justified, since America herself would approve of the approach.
How can you say you support the troops when you subject them to such treatment? How can that simple scenario not completely decide this "debate?" Who could remain unconvinced?