NSN 2016 Update: Return to the Dark Side

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NSN 2016 Update: Return to the Dark Side

NSN 2016 Update: Return to the Dark Side

December 4, 2015

In recent days, conservative candidates for president have revived the rhetoric of the immediate post 9-11 period and have seemed almost eager to play into the hands of ISIS, campaigning on policies that reinforce ISIS’s claims that the West is engaged in religiously-motivated warfare against all Muslims.

Ben Carson, Chris Christie, and Donald Trump all want to bring back waterboarding.

  • While these candidates agree that the United States should start torturing people again, none of them have provided any reason to believe that torture gathers information that could not be gathered by lawful methods.

  • There are, however, strong reasons not to bring back waterboarding: not only is it torture, and therefore a war crime, it puts American soldiers at risk of receiving the same treatment at the hands of our enemies.

  • Sen. John McCain, a victim of torture, said in 2014: “I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights, which are protected by international conventions the U.S. not only joined, but for the most part authored.”

  • These proposals are just another case of conservative candidates disregarding core American values the minute those values get in the way of their tough-guy posturing.

Lindsay Graham wants to realize Dick Cheney’s dream of declaring war on whoever, whenever, without consulting Congress. 

  • Graham’s AUMF proposal for ISIS is reminiscent of the draft legislation George W. Bush sent to Congress on 9/12/2001 that would’ve authorized him to use force against anyone he deemed to be a threat to the United States without consulting Congress.

  • Constitutional scholar Steve Vladeck opines, “Senator Graham’s view of the lessons we’ve learned over the experience with the 2001 AUMF over the past 14 years is that we should simply dispense with the romantic notion that Congress should authorize specific conflicts for a specific purpose.”

  • There are only a few differences: Graham wants to send 30,000 American troops to the region indefinitely, and the president would have to submit a non-binding report on how the war is going to Congress every 60 days.

  • Once more, the conservative approach of unlimited war supports the ISIS narrative that the “crusader states” of the West will never leave Muslims in peace.

Donald Trump wants the United States to “take out [the] families” of terrorists.

  • Donald Trump wants the United States to commit war crimes in the hopes that it might deter terrorists. Even Israeli counterterrorism experts think his idea is seriously misguided:

  • Adopting this policy is immoral and against the common liberal democraticvalues,” said Boaz Ganor, the founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel. “Deliberate attacks against the terrorist families is blurring the moral differences between the terrorist organizations and the state which is fighting terrorism. This by itself might benefit the terrorists which are trying to claim that they are fighting a moral war against relentless and immoral entity.”

    Photo Credit: Donald Trump speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. [Gage Skidmore, accessed 12/4/2015]

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Syrian refugees having rest at the floor of Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis. Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe, 5 September 2015.6791202359_2c3a13495e_o