Dr Fragen in the operating room

The Moral High Ground


The events at the [United Nations][UN] this week with the *stirring* speeches by [Chavez][] and [Ahmadinejad][1] have left me wondering. It’s really left me wondering several things not the least of which is does the UN actually serve our interests. By us, I mean the United States. Seriously, if an organization like the UN doesn’t serve our interests why should we participate? I realize this is a bit isolationist. Additionally one really needs to consider the actual management of the UN and the whole-sale corruption that exists. But this post really isn’t supposed to be about the United Nations.
Here in the States there’s a lot of political speech about how we need to maintain the [*moral high ground*][2]. This comes especially with respect to our nations efforts at fighting “the war on terror.” My purpose here is not to say whether or not we should be fighting this war or where we should be fighting it. The fact remains, and it’s indisputable, the United States was attacked by terrorists. We, and I mean the entire world, is in a fight against terrorism. Whether you choose to admit it or not these terrorists have an identity and that is [*Islamofascism*][3].
There seems to be a tremendous outcry from both within and without the United States about our treatment of captured terrorists and of our prosecution of this war. There are constant cries of how playing loud music or making the room cold is a form of torture. I think in general that many people are missing the big picture. The big picture is that these people want us dead. They don’t want us to exist. They want to remove us and our way of life from the face of the earth.
How are we supposed to maintain the *moral high ground* and still effectively prosecute this war. I would stipulate to you that we will never be able to achieve the *moral high ground*. The principle reason is that this requires the simple act by others of respecting the United States for the manner in which it conducts itself. I submit to you that, as evidenced by the applause at the UN this past week for the speeches by Chavez and Ahmadinejad after their criticisms of the United States, that the US is **not** respected by most of the member nations of the UN and that we, as a nation, will be unlikely to gain this, or any, respect by most of the world. I don’t know whether it’s jealousy of our standard of living or that they fundamentally believe that we are evil. In the long run it really doesn’t matter.
Personally, I believe in a much more [Machiavellian][4] approach. Yes, this smacks of *moral relativism*. Perhaps we should redefine *moral high ground* to mean treating others **better** than they would treat you. Under this definition there’s no need to worry about the trivial things of cold rooms, loud music, barking dogs or [waterboarding][5]. As long as we don’t cut the heads off of these terrorists or maim them then we are treating them better than they would treat us. If these terrorists want to die for their cause; I say let me help and I can tell you none of them would have any preconceptions that they would be joining Allah in heaven.
Does this approach have flaws. You bet. But tell me how effective negotiation with someone whose goal is your death is likely to be?
[UN]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_nations
[chavez]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Chavez
[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad
[2]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_high_ground
[3]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamofascism
[4]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prince
[5]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_boarding