When I first opened up YouDecide's article on whether or not torture is a legitimate means of combating terrorism, I thought I knew my stance. However, after reading through the site's arguments, my stance changed. Then it changed again. I just kept going back and forth on my position, simply because of their strong persuasion of the subject.
I was initially against using torture to fight and prevent terrorism. The opening of this article convinced me further that I had the right position on the subject:
To many, the torture debate begins and ends with the Geneva Conventions: As a signatory to the treaties, it is illegal for agents of the United States to torture. Period. What's more, many view the notion of U.S. operatives resorting to torture as downright un-American. It diminishes our standing in the world, they argue, and doing so potentially exposes our troops, when captured, to retaliatory torture. As if that weren't bad enough, the argument goes, torturing our enemies isn't even worth the potential backlash: Information gleaned by torture is notoriously unreliable. (YouDecide)
My opinion changed however as I read further, and kept saying no to the article's consistent question: "Is torture a legitimate means of combating terrorism?" I read that Al Qaeda and other terrorist cells are not national states and therefore never ratified the Conventions mentioned above. I was also told that these terrorists "hide among civilians and deliberately target noncombatants—a clear violation of the fundamental principle that war is waged against armed participants" (YouDecide
The website YouDecide is produced by KQED, and its whole purpose is to persuade its readers of the opposite of their stance. The further I read into this process, the more I was persuaded. The reasoning gets stronger. I went back to my original stance towards the end because of the latter.
Abstract notions of governmental legitimacy aside, there’s a more fundamental objection many have to torture: It’s un-American. This is the country, after all, that helped liberate Europe from the Nazis; the country that reacts in horror to the notion of political prisoners—and what they likely endure—in China and to accounts of Saddam Hussein’s chemical attacks on Kurdish civilians. It is the country that ensures the freedom of speech and assembly. It is also the country where—and this is critical to the torture debate—one is presumed innocent until proven guilty (YouDecide).
When I finished the article, I had been given many aspects of how torture could be useful in fighting terrorism. I was also informed of how torture could prove to be a negative: degrading the United States' image, getting false information, etc. Terrorism is defined, according to Dictionary.com
, as "the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes; the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization; a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government." If only government and political issues could be fought in a senate or other such building; ending the lives of countless innocents is not solving anything. The reign of terrorism has not ceased, and I do not believe torture will help the matter because:
Throughout human history, there have been many threats to the security of nations. These threats have brought about large-scale losses of life, the destruction of property, widespread illness and injury, the displacement of large numbers of people, and devastating economic loss (FEMA: Terrorism).
These acts of terrorism will never end until some sort of agreement is decided upon. If government officials would sit down in a safe environment with the people who come up with the plots of terrorism (highly unlikely), then reasons of terrorism could be understood and solutions made. Video chat could be useful; devices could be used to protect identities - anything for peace. Torture is not solving the overall problem, only immediate threats. One has to look at the big picture.