The Sensible Knave

"I do not see that we are further along today than where Hume left us. The Humean predicament is the human predicament." - W.V.O. Quine

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Human Rights for Enemy Combatants

Do those who want expanded respect for the human rights for terrorists captured in combat actually want to see them killed in combat instead? Well, that's what they should expect. Captured terrorists are potentially valuable for the information they possess. Even if we shouldn't torture it out of them, we would impose privation or duress that tends to facilitate cooperation. If those options are taken off the table, then the value of captive terrorists declines precipitously.

In combat situations, the tactics soldiers must use to increase the number of captives they take increase the risks to themselves, and they increase the probability of escape. Those might be considered acceptable risks, given the potential benefits. If targetted terrorists are no longer considered potentially valuable assets, however, then the main consideration weighing against tactics designed to maximize the safety of our own troops, and to minimize the likelihood of enemy escape, loses its sway.