This does not mean we should treat all outsiders as terrorists. We should treat outsiders with civility as long as they do not threaten our civilization -- this in and of itself distinguishes us from our enemies. If, however, outsiders threaten our civilization, we should do what we deem necessary. If we must sometimes get our hands dirty to protect Western civilization, so be it. Western civilization is not a fragile edifice, infinitely susceptible to fruits of fascism. We will not become Nazis because we torture terrorists. We can safely fight our enemies without destroying that which makes us what we are.
In deciding how to treat our enemies, then, we must answer one question: Do the benefits of torture in this case outweigh the harms? In the case of uniformed soldiers, the answer is clearly no. Treating uniformed soldiers with care encourages enemies to identify themselves as soldiers rather than civilians, keeping civilians safer and thereby greasing the wheels for post-war reconstruction.
In the case of terrorists, however, the answer is that torture will often serve a useful purpose. The "ticking time bomb" scenario, wherein torture is necessary to save lives from imminent destruction, is an obvious example. But it is not the only example. If a terrorist has information about sleeper cells; if he has information about future attacks; if he has information about locations and identities, we should torture him.
Sullivan, citing Abu Ghraib, questions whether the benefits of such information outweigh the negative impact on our perception in the Muslim world. This is a reasonable concern, but it is not the only concern. If torturing a particular terrorist is useful -- if we engage in the complicated calculus that tells us that the benefits outweigh the harms -- torture is not only justified, it is morally right.
This does not mean we must treat our enemies as subhuman, opening the door to widespread abuses. Our enemies are eminently human in their evil; only humans can be evil. But their status as homo sapiens should not shield them and their allies when it comes to preserving Western civilization. The first duty of Western civilization is self-preservation. Self-immolation, not torture, is the polar opposite of freedom.
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