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November 08, 2007

If The Nazis Could Make It Work, Why Not Us?

This is an unusual rhetorical gambit from Alan Dershowitz:

Marginal Democratic candidates certainly benefit from moving to the left on national security issues, but serious candidates--candidates who want to have any realistic chance of prevailing in the general election--must not allow themselves to be pushed, shoved or even nudged away from a strong commitment to national security.

Consider, for example, the contentious and emotionally laden issue of the use of torture in securing preventive intelligence information about imminent acts of terrorism...

There are some who claim that torture is a nonissue because it never works--it only produces false information. This is simply not true, as evidenced by the many decent members of the French Resistance who, under Nazi torture, disclosed the locations of their closest friends and relatives.

You know, I was on the fence there about torture, until Dershowitz pointed out it really worked well for the Nazis! Color me convinced!

(Thanks to BRG for noticing this.)

Posted at November 8, 2007 10:22 AM | TrackBack

What a surprise: more "revisionism" from Dershowitz about World War Two. When he was exposed as a plagiarist by Norman Finkelstein, he accused Finkelstein's late mother (a Holocaust survivor) of being a Nazi supporter.

Posted by: Jelperman at November 8, 2007 10:49 AM

awesome! (/sarcasm)
I guess many of the Jewish persuasion have come full circle! first they were killed by the Nazis, now they want to BE Nazis!

really, Jonathan, considering the source and who owns it now, are you REALLY surprised??
knowing that, the self-loathing Dershowitz's screed is not surprising in the least. He probably wrote it just before Temple! lol

Posted by: are you just a gadfly? at November 8, 2007 11:10 AM

newsflash: alan dershowitz predicts george bush to commit suicide in bunker

Posted by: hapa at November 8, 2007 11:58 AM

Say what you will about that reasoning, but you have to admit that without all that torture, the Nazis probably would have lost. Er, lost more. I mean.

Posted by: Doctorb Science at November 8, 2007 02:29 PM

Nothing like jumping off the same cliff. (time to put on the brakes 1-202-225-0100 IMPEACH)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 8, 2007 02:40 PM

Klaus Barbie R us.


Can't the HLS get him for moral turpitude?

Posted by: donescobar at November 8, 2007 02:51 PM

Let's play along with the WW2 analogies, shall we? During the war, Julius Streicher wrote in his newspaper about how certain people were subhuman and should be tortured and killed whenever the state considered it necessary. William Joyce (AKA Lord Haw-Haw) advocated the torture and murder of prisoners over the radio. What happened to Streicher and Joyce after the war?

I know people see no merit whatsoever in Dershowitz's scribblings, but this one is the exception, since in any society with an actual system of justice, he just put his own scrawny neck into the noose.

Posted by: Jelperman at November 8, 2007 04:31 PM

The "winners" usually exempt those on their side from accountability for their war crimes, though.

Just sayin', you know, they didn't try Americans or Russians at Nuremberg.

Posted by: Doctorb Science at November 8, 2007 04:53 PM

doctorb Science is right in his first comment. It's pretty tough to find someone who used torture as a key part of a winning strategy. So the best we can hope for is some maybe, possibly, only-if-we-really-need-to, exceptionally rare, tactical victories? And in exchange we sell our soul? How foolish those Democrats are for rejecting that deal!

Posted by: Whistler Blue at November 8, 2007 07:50 PM

What if we were torturing former NFL stars who savagely murdered their ex-wives? I'm sure we would want to torture confessions out of them, right, Alan?

Posted by: Diamond LeGrande at November 8, 2007 08:18 PM

Sure, torture worked for the Nazis. When your main ojective is to kill millions of people and "win" at any cost, bad intel works just as well as good intel. It still furthers their objective of any excuse to kill more people.

Posted by: Fred at November 8, 2007 08:21 PM

"The "winners" usually exempt those on their side from accountability for their war crimes, though.

Just sayin', you know, they didn't try Americans or Russians at Nuremberg."

They didn't have to: 141 American soldiers, sailors and Marines were tried and hanged for war crimes including rape and murder.

Posted by: Jelperman at November 8, 2007 10:24 PM

Dershowitz teaches at Harvard Law. Bush went to Yale. Remember the good old days, when our elites were elite?

Posted by: Guest at November 8, 2007 11:06 PM

You mean those good old days at Harvard and Yale of private clubs (no Jews, blacks or women), drunken parties and lots of really funny jokes about those scholarship chaps who cleaned the toilets or worked in the dining halls? Good for some, they were.

Posted by: donescobar at November 8, 2007 11:38 PM

Jelperman, even the Nazis tried their soldiers for breaches of what passed for discipline (except on the Eastern Front). The point is that Admiral Doenitz couldn't be tried for using submarines to attack civilian shipping -- which had been considered a war crime -- because Admiral Nimitz did it in the Pacific. Similarly, Marshal Goering couldn't be tried for terror-bombing of civilian towns, because Air Marshal Harris did it, in spades.

Little guys always take the pain for what the brass get up to.

Posted by: MFB at November 9, 2007 01:43 AM

You know, to think that Natalie Portman (aka Hershlag) worked as a research assistant for him on "The Case for Israel"...sigh Natalie, how are you gonna answer all the fanboys?

Posted by: En Ming Hee at November 9, 2007 02:36 AM

Of course this is a straw-man. No one says that torture always produces false information. They say that a) the information you get will in an unpredictable number of cases will be wrong b) when it is wrong, it will be what you want to hear c) if the "information" you get is what you want to hear, you're likely to i) believe it ii) try to use it as "evidence"

Oh, and d) it's fucking inhuman. But that's OK because JACK BAUER.

Posted by: me at November 9, 2007 03:03 AM

YET WE still keep paying for it to happen.(sez alot)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 9, 2007 09:03 AM

That torture is even a debatable issue in America says all that needs to be said, i.e. we have already become Amerika.

Lots of torturing that the Nazis did "helped" in one way or another. Medical science and space research were helped immeasurably by human experiments performed by the Nazis. If the end justifies the means, you have at least a shred of an argument for torture.

But the end justifying the means is an argument based on linear reasoning, which is not the only form of reasoning. Anyone seen a perfectly straight line in nature? Linear is a human construct. In reality, the means are the end...or at least define the end.

If you torture, in the end you are a torturer, regardless of what 'end' you would like to see yourself working towards. The final solution was a means to an end; many Germans supported the end, so they accepted the means. And the means say everything that needs to be said about the end.

Posted by: jackpine savage at November 9, 2007 09:20 AM

If Dershowitz can support torture because sometimes it works, can he be far behind with support of genocide? After all, it sure got a lot of Native Americans out of the way.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at November 9, 2007 09:49 AM

It's not really fair to say Dershowitz supports torture. If you click the link to the original, he makes it abundantly clear that he does not personally support torture. However, I say "not really" because he is de facto supporting torture with his straw man (and other) fallacies and his political stands.

Oh, also, it's unfair to the Nazis to say they lost. They certainly would have "won" had they the chance to torture as many people as they'd wanted.

Posted by: Unclepea at November 9, 2007 12:06 PM

That torture is even a debatable issue in America says all that needs to be said, i.e. we have already become Amerika.

Once again, the sloppy "we" comes forth. Alan Dershowitz = America. What the rest of us have been up to, I have no idea.

Posted by: SteveB at November 9, 2007 12:15 PM

jackpine savage,
Non-linear reasoning? Is that where your thoughts go all noodly?

Posted by: me at November 9, 2007 02:22 PM

SteveB, it isn't only Dershowitz who's been "debating" torture -- lots of liberal pundits have advocated it. (FAIR did a good article in 2002 or so, covering the discussion.) How many Americans have supported it I don't know, but it would be overreaching as far to say that "we" oppose torture as that "we" support it. A vote for George Bush in 2004 was certainly a vote for torture, though.

But of course, torture was used by the US long before the Bush Junta took over. See Al McCoy's A Question of Torture, for instance.

Posted by: Duncan at November 9, 2007 03:14 PM

The Middle East's Only Democracy (copyright) learned a couple of other tricks from the Nazis: Collective punishment (Lidice/Gaza) and Einsatzgruppen counterinsurgency tactics (Warsaw ghetto/Jenin).

Posted by: doogie at November 10, 2007 10:22 AM