The Case against Submitting to an Inner Barbarian: Why Torture Is Never Justified
In a post-9/11 world, where it seems that terrorism is rampant and increasing numbers of extremists threaten the safety and wellbeing of American citizens, is it ever justified to bend the rules of legality and morality while fighting the war on terror? Whether or not the use of torture as an interrogation tactic is justified in these circumstances is questionable because of controversy about its legality, morality, and effectiveness; the use of torture would violate several international and domestic laws as well as compromise American morals and beliefs. Despite this controversy, the United States has employed these tactics in recent years to questionable effect; however, the use of it is illegal, immoral and ineffective. Torture should not be used in any circumstance because it violates American morals, political treaties, and laws, would diminish the reputation of the United States in the world, has not been proven effective by scientific evidence, and would create a future of uncertainty regarding the use of torture.
Torture is never justified because it defies moral values of both humans and the United States. Humans have the obligation to “respect the honor and dignity of other human beings” (Fried), even if that respect and dignity is not returned. Once tactics such as torture are resorted to, which compromise the dignity of another human, the dignity of the person performing that act is also compromised (Fried). There are some things, such as torture, that should never be done simply because the right to “call ourselves decent human beings” depends on not doing them (Jacoby). If humans sink to the lowest level that is torture, the essential abilities to feel empathy, respect, and honor are lost, all core parts of humanity that separate man from all other animals. As a country, the United States also has distinct morals that hold it above resorting to torture. Found in the Declaration of Independence, America was founded on the principle that all men have a right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Applying torture to even the worst of criminals undoubtedly takes away these rights. It takes away the liberty because the victim is held against his will, pursuit of happiness because they are being physically and mentally tortured, and in severe cases, even will take someone’s life. It’s evident that employing torture tactics would compromise one of the most sacred documents in America’s history, one that has set many precedents in the United States. Additionally, as a democratic republic, it is essential to this country’s identity to refrain from torture in order to “retain our character” (Fried). By resorting to torture, a democratic republic, in which the power of the people holds, contradicts its own definition. The United States, as a superpower and developed country, should also be held to higher moral standards and act as a role model to other countries (Cohn). Governments around the world respect the United States for the values it upholds (“On Torture and American Values”). By using torture, the US “undermines the values we are defending” (Knickerbocker), values of justice, freedom, and human rights. Using torture would also lessen the reputation of the United States in the world (Knickerbocker). As a nation viewed as a leader in ethics and moral standards, this country would be stooping to the level of its enemies and also diminish its stature by using inhumane practices like torture. In addition, torture is also not permissible because of its illegality, contradicting both domestic and international laws.
Torture should not be adopted because it violates United States treaties and laws, such as the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Convention against Torture. Both of these treaties are ones that the United States has signed, and therefore they have become the law of the country....
Cited: Cohn, Marjorie. Interview with Mark Karlin. "The 'normalization ' of torture". from the square. New York University. 16 Mar, 2012. Web. 30 May 2012.
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