Torture refers to the deliberate act or practise of inflicting injury or physical pain on another person. However, animal and psychological torture also exists. Parties inflicting torture on others also do so as a form of coercion, punishment, interrogation, political re-education, punishment, or deterrence. There are different methods of torture which vary from one year to the other and from one country to the other. Psychological torture methods include sensory deprivation, blackmailing, solitary confinement, threatening to kill or hurt the victim`s loved ones, and exposure to loud sounds. On the other hand, physical torture methods include kneecapping, oxygen deprivation, sexual assault, castration, blinding with light, chocking, sawing, cutting, pitch capping, bone breaking, abacination, freezing, dunking, tooth extraction, sleep deprivation, foot roasting, forced circumcision, flaying, and denailing among others. The tools used to inflict torture include choke pear, breast ripper, iron chair, foot press, electroshock weapon, copper boot, tramp chair, and brazen bulls among others. Torturers normally have an aim of inflicting pain to the parties tortured without necessarily causing any fatal injury. However, in some cases torture is deliberately disastrous and may accompany capital punishment or murder. In addition, torture can be disastrous eventually in cases where attempts are made to prolong the period one suffers other than killing him in the first instance.
Historically, torture was allowed in quite a number of states. Nonetheless, the wake of the 21st century saw a new perception towards torture and its` adverse effects. As such, torture is viewed as immoral and impractical. It is also considered to be a violation of human rights and freedom. Actually, torture is currently not only prohibited under the domestic laws of most nations but also prohibited under the international law. This paper seeks to analyse the effects of torturing enemy combatants or high value targets on the standards of morality in America and the effects of torture on the basic human rights and its` global implication. Further, it seeks to determine whether torture can be justified under the ethical theories of Ontological, Deontological, Utilitarianism, and Natural law.
Effects of Torturing Enemy Combatants or High value targets on Morality Standards in America
Morally, people should indulge in things only when they are right rather than justifying the consequences of their actions. With this in mind, torture is viewed as unacceptable, immoral and impractical act. This is due to the maltreatment the victims undergo during the period of torture. The war on terror was launched by the United States after 11th September, 2001. This was after George Bush empowered the United States military to kill, capture, interrogate or detain members of Al Qaeda. Further, on 18th January, 2002, George Bush issued findings that Al Qaeda suspects are enemy combatants and as such not protected by the Third Geneva Convention. Therefore, torture was authorized on them. All Al Qaeda suspects were to be denied basic rights and treated as deemed fit by the military. This saw the rise in political and philosophical debate on whether torture is a justified action. The main aspects on justification of torture revolve around the debate on whether torture should be completely eliminate or whether under special circumstances a suspect should be tortured with an aim of obtaining information from him or her and preventing adverse effects of terrorism in future.
First and foremost, there is a significant need to address the question of whether torture is the most efficient and effective way to deal with fears such as terrorism. In most cases, interrogatives believe that torture is the best way to obtain timely information from suspects. As such, torture is a neccessity to make terrorists who are hardened reveal required information in good time. Therefore, it is clear that torture can be employed in absolute good faith with an aim of extracting information. Nevertheless, torture varies from one individual to the other. This implies that torture does not yield positive results in all cases. For instance, in the case of Saddam Hussein, torture was used to obtain desired results. As such, in as much as some critiques view torture as not only illegal, immoral but also ineffective; torture is justifiable in exceptional circumstances. These include circumstances under which there is little or no time to use persuasion in order to obtain information. A good example is a case in which terrorism suspects are tortured in order to give information on the location of a bomb as in the tickling bomb scenario. Retrieving such information in time is essential as it can save the lives of innocent people. In other words, such instances prove that torture is the best means to combat a present and clear danger. Nonetheless, if torture is not restricted to special circumstances, it can become a normalized practise. This leads to problems from both a practical and moral sense. This is because there will be more victims of torture with the aim that at least some of them will own up and give useful information. The military officers from America looks up to the French experience for guidance. They note that in as much as brutality helped the French to tackle urban insurgency in Algiers, it had adverse effects. This is because the French were forced to vacate from Algeria years later. The use of torture by French in Algeria not only led to domestic criticism but also led to loss of reputation around the world. Nonetheless, American leaders have argued over lawful use of torture. In some instance, Senator John McCain addressed the objection against torture stating clearly that most people apply regular rules to people who wilfully act against such rules. He further poses a question that leaves many wondering on whether to treat Al Qaeda members humanely whereas they kidnap and behead Americans. In a different context, McCain argues that America should try its` best not to sink to the level of its` enemies. This is because by America sinking to the level of its` enemies, it will lose the moral position that has always made it unique in the world over time.
Effects of Torture on Basic Human Rights and its` Global Implications
The consequences of torture are far beyond pain. Most victims of torture suffer from a disorder referred to as Post traumatic stress disorder. Victims often have sense of guilt and shame as a result of the humiliation they have undergone. In addition, victims of torture suffer from severe depression, nightmares, memory lapses, insomnia, serious anxiety, and flashbacks. Victims who survive after torture are exposed to lasting physical and mental problems. In extreme cases, torture denies people their basic right to life. Death as a result of torture can be immediate or after a period of time due to natural causes such as brain injury, heart attacks, sexually transmitted diseases, or embolism due to excessive stress. Torture also denies a person the right to enjoy his or her normal life. During the period of torture, one`s life is rendered useless given that his or her life is taken up by much pain and discomfort as a result of being exposed to pain and poor environmental conditions. Globally, torture is viewed as immoral, impractical and an inhumane act against people. Therefore, a country that supports torture obtains a negative reputation worldwide.
Justification of Torture through Ethical Theories
Firstly, ontological theory of ethics refers to the value bearing property or things. Ontological social theorists believe in the existence of God. However, existence of God is something which most people take for granted. The ontological theorists view torture as an evil thing and do not accept torture under any circumstance. Secondly, deontological theory is a kind of normative theory that examines which choices are forbidden, morally accepted or permitted. It is unlike the utilitarianism theory that lays much emphasis on the consequences of an act to determine its` desirability and morality. As such, individuals who subscribe to deontological theories extremely oppose consequentialists. Therefore in relation to deontological ethical theory, torture is not justifiable at all. This is because torture is considered impractical, inhumane and an immoral act. Deontological theorists do not argue at all of the consequences of torture and whether it can be beneficial in some cases. They assert that torture is inhumane from the onset and should not be inflicted on an individual. Thirdly, utilitarianism theory is a normative ethical theory that lays much emphasis on the consequences of choosing one act over the other. As such, in the context of utilitarianism, the moral aspect of any action is determined by first verifying the outcomes. In case the outcomes yield to happiness and reduces suffering, an action is viewed to be morally right. As such, utilitarianism prioritizes overall happiness over individual interest. Therefore, utilitarianism justifies torture where the pain inflicted to an individual will lead to maximum happiness to other masses. In as much as torturing people is an immoral act, the utilitarianism theory justifies torture under special cases such as in the case of the tickling bomb scenario. In this case, torture was rightfully inflicted on an individual with an aim of neutralizing a bomb that would otherwise explode and cause death and destroy valuable property. Therefore, utilitarianism was employed in this case to maximize happiness and minimize misery. Fourthly, natural law refers to a system of law that is supported by nature and hence universal. Just as physical law is derived from time, space, and matter, natural law is derived from the nature of the world and man. As result, many people view natural law as the basis of all law and ethics. Natural law gives weight on the morally right manner of treating others. Therefore, torture is condemned under natural laws because of two reasons. Firstly, under natural laws it is argued that human beings were not created to torture others. Secondly, nature argues that human beings were not created to be tortured. As such, torture is viewed as an inhumane and immoral act and is advocated against under the rule of natural law.
In conclusion, torture refers to the deliberate act or practise of inflicting injury or physical pain on another person. Torture is considered to be an inhumane, immoral and impractical act. As such, it is condemned by many states. Nevertheless, torture is considered a lawful act under special circumstances. Torture is also supported by utilitarianism theory under special circumstances. For instance, torture was supported by utilitarianism in the case of the tickling bomb scenario. All in all, torture causes mental and physical harm to victims but should be employed under special circumstances when there is no time to use gentle persuasion.
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