How US decision to torture one individual led to the rise of ISIS

I would like to say a Merry Christmas, but I will instead take the opportunity to remind people of what happens when a few people in government (or just government in general) gets too much power. I will illustrate this by summarizing how a few people in the US made decisions roughly 10 years ago, that led to the rise of ISIS today (main article:

  • US captures Abu, who is an important link in “the war against terrorism”
  • FBI gets crucial and important information using non-torture methods. All good so far.
  • Then Bush, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice panic and give direct orders to CIA that “harsh methods” (torture) should be used
  • Under torture and in desperation, Abu provides any piece of information he believes may stop the torture, regardless of whether it is true or not (nothing useful came out after the harsh methods started)
  • One of the pieces of (false) information from Abu leads Bush and his administration (likely in panic and group-echo mode) to pursue an unfounded war on Iraq
  • Iraq’s fall leads to (aside from unprecedented waste) instability from change in power structure in the middle eastern region, which is today a major reason for the rise of ISIS

What can we learn from this?

  1. Do not trust that government will make the best decisions – they are ultimately just a group of people, just like you and me
  2. The ends don’t justify the means – the individual is always the most valuable, not the collective, and the sum of multiple individuals isn’t more valuable than any single individual (doesn’t make mathematical sense, but as soon as you violate this, you get terror)

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