F all of you.

Why non-Americans don't count

> Im interested though that you would so easily dismiss the opinion of someone just because they are not american?

This references http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?off.9.90157.21#discussTopic91953


> if we are going to be kidnapping people from foreign countries without trial and torturing them

Without wanting to promote this practice, but to argue it (because muppet wanted an argument and no-one else seemed willing to argue) ...

Firstly, does the article really mention people's being "kidnapped"? I thought that it was about "arrest and deportation": the first suspects mentioned for example had been in the custody of Swedish officials, who handed them over .. so, this is all being done with the complicity of two or three governments:

1) America
2) The country in which people are arrested (e.g. Sweden)
3) The country to which people are deported and by whom they're allegedly tortured (e.g. Egypt and Jordan ... or Afghanistan, though the article depicts Afghanistan as a country where there are no laws)

Because this is being done by governments, therefore perhaps it's ipso facto "due process"? It's not the process you would *like*, but it *is* process?

Also, you say "without trial": but, don't you imagine that the officials have *some* reason for doing what they do? I know that when Canada for example extradites someone (a suspect, or more properly "the accused") to the US to stand trial there, that extradition warrant *is* judicially reviewed; it is, as you said, not a "trial" in Canada (the trial will happen in the States), but they *do* review whether there's even enough paperwork to warrant extradition. Now Canada happens to have an extra policy about not extraditing to countries that torture or kill, but that isn't relevent to this argument ... what is relevant is that there is (is there not?) *some* reason for detention and extradition, and that detention and extradition *do* (and may, and must and therefore should) happen pre-trial ... and therefore, your saying "kidnapping without trial" (to say nothing of torture) is tendentious.


> opinion of someone not american is relevant to a discussion of whether or not we should?"

Assuming that 'we' *do*, I tried to guess an explanation of *why* we do.

Now you're asking another question: whether we "should". I analyse "should" as having several possible colors:

(1) "should" meaning "in accordance with national law" - perhaps a non-American isn't qualified to have any opinion on American national law? [Any foreigner who submits to the jurisdiction of American national law does so at their own risk; also America's national laws are not the only relevent player here: why aren't you equally or more interested in the Swedish and/or Egyptian laws]

(2) "should" meaning "in accordance with international law" - perhaps if America doesn't subscribe to various international treaties which might e.g. preclude torture, then these international 'laws' are irrelevent to America and Americans; and more especially, it's somewhat meaningless for a non-American to argue that America is breaking international law, unless that non-American can find a court in which that argument can be made

(3) "should" meaning "expedient" - I proposed an argument that the policy may expedite the attaining of vital intelligence, and would further propose that you would need to be privy to all the inteligence agencies' activitiees and results to be able to truly assess whether 'it' *is* in fact expedient ... and therefore perhaps a lay person cannot argue against the policy on the grounds of whether it's expedient (if you want to argue against the policy, then you would need to pick some differemt argument, for example "the end doesn't justify those means", or "using those means has unwarrantedly undesirable side-effects") ... but in that case it becomes an argument on the basis of politics/policy, and the (American official) people who make that policy wouldn't (I think) count the arguments or opinions of non-Americans

(4) "should" meaning "that is our policy" - if "policy" means "politics" means "I vote yay and/or nay", then again you can see why I suggest that non-American opinions don't count ... if you think otherwise, then tell me where/when I for example, as a non-American, get to vote on this (alleged American) pollcy?

(5) "should" meaning "moral" - firstly, perhaps there's no such thing as morality (there's only private and public policy, law, fait accompli, etc.); secondly, if there is morality, there appear to be several different moralities that various people subscribe to, that not everyone agrees with, and whose interpretation is a matter of opinion and of "being there yourself". There is "turn the other cheek" morality, for example ... I hesitate to propose that as a policy, because its expedience is uncertain ... entails risk, and may entail sacrifice ... and if the CIA *is* acting to protect America's interest, then who am I as a non-American to say that America's interest shouldn't be protected? Also, morality (as it is usually taught) does seem to admit to exceptions to various rules: "don't kill people" for example ... "unless you wake up one night and find them in your house uninvited, in which case we'd suggest that you shoot first and ask questions later" ... and again, as a non-American whose interests aren't being threatened (by terrorists) nor protected (by CIA) then why should I be allowed an opinion about whether any claim of self-defence is moral? Even the Golden Rule ("do unto others...") morality isn't relevent, unless you assert (as you did, but as your national laws do not) that "I do not consider it relevant to ask whether my government is performing the torture themselves or outsourcing it, I also do not consider it relevant to ask whether those who are being tortured are american citizens or not" (because unless you assert that, it can be argued that what is "done unto others" needn't concern 'us' because we Americans have a different set of laws that protect us), and you assert that the pre-trial arrest-and-torture is unjust and unwanted (because unless you assert that, it can be argued that what is "done unto others" needn't concern 'us' because 'we' are not suspects and therefore won't be arrested, OR argued that "yes, torture is worthwhile given the gravity of the information being sought, and if I were a suspect then I'd want justice to torture me to get it").

So the above was a discussion of "should", summarised as:

(1) non-Americans don't make nor interpret American national law ... and neither am I Swedish nor Egyptian etc.
(2) non-Americans don't have an international court in which to constrain America's actions via international law
(3) only an intelligence wonk (which excludes the majority of non-Americans, and I expect excludes everyone who posts on this board) can claim to have an informed opinion
(4) non-Americans don't vote on American policies or policy-makers
(5) morality is debatable, *and* Americans can claim to have more "skin in the game" than others (except for the detainees, of course)

Some parting thoughts on your statement "surely their opinion is relevent":

* An answer is "yes: for example, the American officials' actions depend on the opinions of the Swedish, Egyptian, and Jordanian officials"
* Another answer is "yes: the opinions of foreign nationals eventually have consequences or repercussions that affect America"
* Another answer is "no: they didn't elect me and they can't touch me"
* Another answer is "hell no: we're the greatest military power on earth, why on earth should we care for the opinions of foreign cheese-eating surrender monkeys and brown-skinned, bearded, turban-wearing, suicide-bombing infidels?"
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 11th, 2005
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