The Politics of The End Justifying the Means
Apr 25, 2009
In the recent political debates regarding the torture of detainees at Guantanamo, have you noticed that Dick Cheney's primary defense of torture is simply that "it works"??
In other words, it does not matter how inherently immoral it may be to torture people, all that ultimately matters is whether or not such a practice actually extracts some useful information--at least in a few cases.
The implication is that for every hundred SUSPECTED terrorists that we torture, we are sure to extract useful information from about 5% of them, and this is used to justify the torture of the other 95% on the grounds that we the people have been made "safer." And we are expected to thank Dick Cheney for being a great patriot who has our best interests in mind.
I am picking on Dick Cheney, not because he is the only one culpable, but because he is actively campaigning for the morality and legality of torture tactics. And since he is no longer a political leader, I have a little more leeway in criticizing him without running into the biblical prohibition in Ex. 22:28,
"You shall not curse God [elohim--either God or the judges], nor curse a ruler of your people."
The term elohim is literally a Subjector, or one who is in authority over another. God is the ultimate Power, of course, but the judges and rulers were also gods (small "g"), because they were in positions of authority over others. This law does not prohibit criticism of rulers, nor does it prohibit confronting them with their sins, which the prophets did many times in Scripture. It does prohibit insulting them or falsely accusing them of something that they did not do or say. One must respect the office, even if the person holding it is a scoundrel.
In the case of torture as well as the degradation of prisoners (forcing them to commit lewd or homosexual acts), these tactics are part of the psychological breakdown of prisoners, making life miserable and humiliating enough so that they will confess any knowledge that we want to extract. The discipline of the military itself is strong enough where such tactics would not have been utilized so widely without full authorization from the highest positions in the nation--that is, the White House and its cabinet.
And the fact that Dick Cheney is now openly defending such tactics shows that he was a major architect of these tactics when he held the office of the Vice President. In other words, he is working hard to keep torture legal, so that he is not indicted for war crimes at the Hague.
His primary argument is that the end justifies the means. This was the basis of Lenin's Communist State in the Soviet Union. When we begin to measure our morality by this principle, we will know that we have become a Communist country--regardless of the euphemisms that we may use to describe ourselves. The Soviet Union was a Police State. We are fast becoming one as well, thanks to the Republican Party. The Soviet Union was a Socialist Welfare State. We are fast becoming one as well, thanks to the Democratic Party. Each party is being used in its own way to push us into The United Socialist States of Amerika.
Every four years the public is given a choice. They can vote for more Socialism for "humanitarian" reasons, or a more powerful Police State for "security" reasons. Each side appeals to a different constituency, but the public gets to choose which leg we want to strengthen. Insofar as "freedom" is concerned, the Democratic Party supports greater freedom, including freedom to commit immorality (biblical definition). The Republicans appeal to those who desire to restrict such immorality by "law and order," but then they go too far the other way by their support for an unbiblical prison system, harsh prison sentences that have more to do with deterrence than with justice, and now, finally, torture itself.
Throughout all of this, we the people are given the choice of lawlessness or legalism. Immorality is part of the anomia of Scripture--"lawlessness." On the other hand, the legalistic mindset of the Church has a long history of using laws to prefer deterrence over justice. Eternal torture in "hell" has been promoted as a deterrence against sin under the theory that greater punishment will deter sin. The inherent injustice of eternal torture was first dismissed and then forgotten as the traditions of men replaced the divine law.
The primacy of deterrence in this idea of eternal torture was learned from the legal system of the Roman Empire before it was christianized in the fourth century. The Church justified divine torture on the grounds that the end justified the means. In other words, because it deterred men from sinning (by instilling fear), it was a justifiable penalty for sin. The inherent injustice of such a deterrence was of less importance to them.
We still live with this legacy today, and it expresses itself politically in the Republican Party, which was swarmed by Christians after the formation of Fallwell's "Moral Majority" three decades ago in the patriotic fervor of our nation's Bicentennial in 1976. The nostalgia for a lost "Christian Nation" was a reaction to the secularization of America brought in primarily by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930's.
I share this nostalgia, of course, but my idea of a Christian Nation is not what would be established if this Christian Republican goal were achieved today. Most do not realize that the Roman Catholic Church has taken the lead in the push for a Christian Nation. Their objective is to establish a Catholic Country under the authority of the Roman Pontiff. That has been the long-term goal for centuries. To accomplish this, they first took the lead in the anti-abortion movement, and now in the legalization of the water torture, which the "Holy Inquisition" invented many centuries ago to force heretics back into the fold. It has again become "useful."
The late Malachi Martin, ex-Jesuit, "old-style Catholic," wrote in his book, The Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church, that a power struggle took place between the pope and the Jesuits around the time of Vatican II in 1964-1965. The idea that the end justifies the means, he said, is the main ideological foundation of the Jesuits. He also reported that the so-called "Liberation Theology" of the Jesuits in Latin America was the result of an alliance between the Jesuits and the Marxists. From Martin's point of view, the popes since Vatican II have been the victims of a Jesuit power play, with the Jesuit General (i.e., "The Black Pope") now having more power than the pope (i.e., "The White Pope").
Whatever the truth may be in that power struggle, the Republican Party reflects much of Jesuit philosophy, which is influencing the evangelical community more and more. The popes do not advocate torture, nor have I heard them setting forth the idea that the end justifies the means. The fact that this insidious philosophy has become so widespread shows that its origin is from some more secretive political organization. I suspect the Jesuit-Marxist alliance that Malachi Martin wrote about in great detail.
Regardless of the source, however, we as Christians should promote God's will, as expressed in His Law. We do not need to know the origins of false religious philosophy, as long as we understand and promote the Truth. Our priority should be to promote Jesus Christ and His world view, rather than the platform of any earthly political party--even if that party may carry a Christian name tag. We are ambassadors for Christ first.