When I speak about enhanced interrogation — or indeed virtually all of our controversial tactics in the war on terror, including the drone program — I tend to begin with three moral propositions.
First, it is immoral to establish legal doctrines that would provide unlawful combatants with all the same protections as lawful prisoners of war. The reason for this is simple. As I said yesterday, doing so provides a terrorist or other unlawful enemy with an incentive to keep violating legal norms and thus provides them with enormous tactical advantages. The laws of war originated in moral norms that aspire to limit combat to the combatants. Terrorists disrupt these legal and moral norms not just by intentionally targeting civilians but also by intentionally mingling with civilians.
But it goes even beyond incentivizing terror tactics. Providing the same protections incentivizes the war itself. Terror apologists respond to the jihadist war crime of concealing themselves within the civilian population by asserting that's their only choice if they wish to fight the U.S. or Israel — they'd be slaughtered in open combat. Yes, they would. And the laws of war dictate that utterly futile combat is a needless waste of life and a further violation of international legal norms. So, in short, don't initiate a war that you cannot lawfully win. more >>
In a remarkable but thus-far unnoticed address on Dec. 5, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the crown prince of Bahrain (an island kingdom in the Persian Gulf and home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet), candidly analyzed the Islamist enemy and suggested important ways to fight it.
He has much to teach Westerners (starting with his hapless UK counterpart, Crown Prince Charles), if only we would listen. Yes, some Western leaders speak about confronting the Islamist ideology, but the majority avoids this issue by resorting to euphemism, obfuscation, and cowardice. Most frustrating are those leaders (like Tony Blair) who deliver powerful speeches without follow-through.
Prince Salman, 45 and widely acknowledged to be the Bahraini royal family's principal reformer, opens his remarks by addressing the inaccuracy of the phrase, "War on Terror." The time has come, he says "for us to get rid of" a term that dates back to 9/11. "It is a bit misleading, it is not the entirety and the totality of our conflict" but merely a "tool" and a tactic. more >>
Islamic State militants are claiming that they have built a "dirty bomb" with radioactive uranium that was reportedly stolen from Mosul University after ISIS seized the city of Mosul in June.
Four months after 40 kilograms of uranium were reported as missing from the university, several ISIS militants have taken to social media to purport that they have used the missing uranium to build a "dirty bomb," which is a special improvised explosive device consisting of radioactive nuclear waste and conventional explosives, designed to spread hazardous radioactive material over a wide ranging area.
If the militants' claims are true, the "dirty bomb" would represent the first "weapon of mass disruption" controlled by the Islamic State. more >>
Russia appears to be taking serious moves to combat the "radicalization" of Muslims within its border.
Recent pro-Islamic reports are complaining that Russia is banning the Islamic hijab—the headdress Islamic law requires Muslim women to wear—and, perhaps even more decisively, key Islamic scriptures, on the charge that they incite terrorism.
In the words of Arabic news site Elaph, "Russia is witnessing a relentless war on the hijab. It began in a limited manner but has grown in strength, prompting great concern among Russia's Muslims." more >>
Nearly two years ago, these writers urged President Obama to "Chuck Hagel." Today, it seems, the hapless Secretary of Defense is on his way out. We wish him no ill. And we certainly don't rejoice in his forced resignation. The timing of his dismissal could hardly be worse. It comes on the eve of another "deadline" in our dealings with an Iran bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.
Secretary Hagel never overcame his stumbling debut. A recent poll of national security personnel gave him an abysmal 26% approval rating. And while we should never put civilian control of the military up for a vote of the troops, we should try to avoid naming defense chiefs who command so little respect among those whom they can order to risk their lives.
Secretary Hagel needed to go. His tenure has been characterized by ineptitude of the first order. According to The New York Times, Mr. Hagel never recovered from his bruising confirmation hearings. He responded at length to a senator's questioning that he saw the need to "contain" Iran's nuclear capacity. more >>
On August 22nd, I wrote an article entitled, "Five Obvious Lessons from Ferguson." Now, in the wake of the grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of my namesake, 18-year-old Michael Brown, and in the wake of the riots that immediately erupted, here are five more obvious lessons.
1) No verdict could satisfy both sides.
It was clear from the start that if the grand jury decided to indict Officer Wilson, many (especially white) Americans would see it as an example of the judicial process succumbing to political pressure. They would say that Wilson was condemned before the trial ever took place and that he was an innocent scapegoat offered up to quell an ugly uprising. more >>