Sunday, May 24, 2009

True Grit

איזה הוא גיבור--הכובש את יצרו, שנאמר "טוב ארך אפיים, מגיבור" (משלי טז,לב
Who is strong? He who conquers his desires, as it says (Ecc. 16:32), "The patient man is better than the warrior, [and he who rules his emotions than the conquerer of a city]" (Avot 4:1)
The hullaballoo over waterboarding in the media raises an interesting question over the efficacy of torture and when it should be authorized (if ever). Waterboarding is basically a political smokescreen; you can rest assured that America tortures, although we prefer to offshore it rather than get our own hands dirty.

In this interview, interrogator Matthew Alexander explains that making friends with the captives is actually a more effective means of getting information out of them than torture. As the old aphorism goes, you catch more flies with honey:

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If we'd be better off taking these guys out to dinner, why do we torture them? Well, some of it is simply anger-letting - it's easier to knock them around than pal up to them, emotionally. Another big chunk of it is historical - torture has been so ingrained in us, we've forgotten that other (more effective) methods might exist. Unfortunately, we are in real danger and true strength is required - and that means overcoming our instincts and using our brains.

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