Saturday, July 03, 2010

Quote of the Day: Jim Henley on Standards for the High and Low Roads

Jim Henley, responsible for so many fine posts over the years, hits another home-run in this one:
...what we see over and over again is that we judge high-road approaches as failures unless they produce nigh-instant and complete favorable results, while we show nearly infinite patience for journeys down the low road.

Nine years into the invasion of Afghanistan we have to agree that pulling out after a decade is just too soon. Back in 2001, the Taliban’s failure to turn over Osama bin Laden within a couple of weeks showed the hopelessness of diplomacy. When torture “works” at all it takes weeks and months, just like more classic rapport-building methods of interrogation. And it involves more false positives. Plus, oh I forgot to mention, it is deeply evil. But even though classic interrogation methods produce statistically better results, we live in fear that there may be some time somewhere that torture might get an answer that classic interrogation missed, so of course we must continually torture for that possible moment’s sake. As Gene points out, O’Grady judges the European and Canadian liberation of travel to Cuba a failure because Cuba has not become a neoliberal paradise in the decade since, while leaving aside the fact that Cuba hasn’t become a neoliberal paradise after 50 years of American cold-war against the country.

Compare also the standard neocon “U SUCK LOL” directed against nonviolent resistance – Hitler would totally have just killed Gandhi hahaha! We accept that successful violent resistance might take years or decades to achieve victory – Mao, Castro – and that guerrilla movements might suffer casualties to ranks and leaders but keep on. But we can’t imagine that nonviolent resistances might achieve the same. The war on drugs will surely work at some point – we’ve only been at it for 90-odd years, trillions of dollars and countless deaths and humiliations. But should anyone anywhere decriminalize anything, a single death or inconvenience in the first week would condemn the entire effort....

The open question, to me, is who “we” are in the above. American culture, or the human race? I suspect the latter, and that relative power simply gives the US a greater opportunity to take low-road approaches. But I’m not sure.

-- Jim Henley
(I quoted most of it -- it was that sort of post -- but that link goes to the rest if you want it.)

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