The Instigator
mcdorr72
Pro (for)
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The Contender
Raistlin
Con (against)
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Is the WHINSEC(US Army School of the Americas) ethical?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/21/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,382 times Debate No: 63678
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
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mcdorr72

Pro

The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (a.k.a. WHINSEC or The School of the Americas) is a school located in Fort Benning, Georgia that provides military training for soldiers in Latin American countries. The school is under heavy criticism because its former graduates, such as Manuel Noriega, Roberto D'Aubuisson, and Heriberto Lazcano, have committed human violations. I believe that the WHINSEC is still ethical even though the school has trained many evil men.
Raistlin

Con

I thank pro for opening this debate. My position will be that WHINSEC, an organization which, as my opponent pointed out, trained several Latin American dictators, is an unethical organization. To be precise, I will argue that the institution's policies have directly led to the use of skills acquired therein against the welfare of its graduate's peoples and often to commit human rights violations. Additionally, I support the closing of this institution immediately. Best of luck to my opponent, and I look forward to my first online debate.
Debate Round No. 1
mcdorr72

Pro

First I would like to thank my opponent for debating me because I am doing this for a school project and I want to work on this debate to see what my opponent for my project might say. So best of luck to you and here it goes. Like in my opening statement I addressed the topic of the WHINSEC and the criticism this school is facing and why it is facing this criticism. The WHINSEC is nicknamed the school of terror because it is said to teach its students terrorist tactics. However this is simply not the case. At least 10 Latin American countries have sent people to train at the WHINSEC or SOA in counter-insurgency. These 10+ countries have a total of 35+ large and notable guerrilla movement groups in there countries. These guerrilla fighters directly oppose these Latin American countries. This is why the governments of these Latin American countries are sending men to the WHINSEC, to counter guerrilla fighters, not to learn to torture. Further more drug cartels and drug smuggling is a major problem in these Latin American countries. In the 10+ countries that have sent people to the WHINSEC have at total of at least 50+ major and notable drug cartels. These cartels are spending millions to evade the police and military. The WHINSEC is training police in Latin American countries to help stop drug smuggling and fight the war on drugs.
Raistlin

Con

I think it's great that you get to do a debate for a school project. I wish my teachers would allow that. Good luck on it.

In order to give some background, WHINSEC, or the School of the Americas (SOA) as it was originally known, was founded in 1946. It became highly significant in 1961 when it was used to teach "anti-communist counterinsurgency training." At the time, this was a highly stretchable definition that resulted in unethical political regimes. One concrete example is the 1973 coup in Chile in which the democratically elected President Allende was overthrown by brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet and most of his men were trained by SOA, and turned a stable bastion of democracy into a dictatorial regime in a single year. One may protest that these men made their own choices and were not representative of U.S. policy, but unfortunately the US supported the coup and even set up the conditions for it. In the name of "anti-communism," these men were trained by SOA/WHINSEC for this express purpose: to destroy the legitimately elected government of Chile. That sounds pretty unethical to me. And unfortunately, while this is the most famous example of this training's intended use, it is far from an isolated incident. [1]

My opponents argument seems to come in distinct subsections. Firstly, he claims that "it is simply not the case" that WHINSEC teaches its students "terrorist tactics." Secondly, he claims that the 10+ countries that have utilized WHINSEC needed it to combat guerrilla warfare. Thirdly, he states that these countries needed and have utilized WHINSEC to combat drug cartels.

It is fairly safe to say that WHINSEC used tactics that at the very least would qualify as unethical and at worst, as my opponent denies, as "terrorist." According to manuals the CIA was forced to release, interrogation methods used include "reactions to fear or pain" and "hypnosis or narcotics." Not exactly ethical. Additionally, immediately after being arrested, prisoners "should be segregated immediately" because "isolation, both physical and psychological, must be maintained from the moment of apprehension." That's right: no rights at all for the prisoners; they are completely isolated, have no standard legal protections, have no right to trial by jury, etc. The entirety of the interrogation process is essentially psychological torture; the main idea is to deprive the inmates (who have had no trial) of any human interaction. This is unethical. [2]

Secondly, by suppressing "guerrilla activity," protestors of any kind to the government of one of these countries have been silenced, sometimes by murder. 6 Jesuit priests were brutally murdered by graduates in 1989 because they were engaged in "subversive activities," just following the "counterinsurgency" training they received from SOA/WHINSEC. Often, in many dictatorships, any protests were silenced in the name of "anti-communism counterinsurgency," the approved purpose of this depraved organization. It is disingenuous to suggest that suppressing guerrillas is necessarily a good thing. [3]

Finally, the war on drugs is itself unethical. Trying to impose a 21st century version of prohibition on underdeveloped countries is a ridiculous proposition that has destroyed many governments in battles with the child of prohibition: organized crime. Trying to regulate what individuals put in their own bodies is obviously unethical; it's an individual choice. Universal legalization of drugs would lead to healthy Latin American economies that would not be dominated by criminals.

Sources

1- Gill, Lesley. The School of the Americas: Military Training and Political Violence in the Americas. Durham: Duke UP, 2004. Print.

2- http://www2.gwu.edu...

3- M"ller, Andreas, Arno Tausch, Paul Michael. Zulehner, and Henry Wickens. Global Capitalism, Liberation Theology, and the Social Sciences: An Analysis of the Contradictions of Modernity at the Turn of the Millennium. Huntington, NY: Nova Science, 2000. Print.
Debate Round No. 2
mcdorr72

Pro

Roberto D'Aubuisson, Manuel Noriega, Heriberto Lazcano, Juan Velasco Alvarado, Augusto Pinochet (who contrary to what my opponent stated did not train at the SOA) ,Jorge Rafael Videla, Hugo Banzer. These men seem unrelated. However that is not true. These men ,besides being Latin American, have quite a fe things in common. Some of them trained at the WHINSEC/SOA, many are accused of committing human rights violations. All of these men however have graduated from military academies in their home countries. Roberto D'Aubuisson is accused of killing Arch Bishop Oscar Romero. Many blame the SOA because he trained there. However he studied communications at the SOA. Hugo Banzer learned how to drive a simple car at the SOA. I believe that the WHINSEC/SOA is not at fault here but the Latin American Military academies are.

Another user of debate.org is sengeuri how says he works at the WHINSEC. He states that the WHINSEC is just a Captain's Career course for our South American Allies. I believe this is just the case and that the WHINSEC is falsely accused of training its students to torture or use terrorist techniques. So that is why this school is ethical. It is simply a way to increase and strengthen or ties with Latin American countries.
Raistlin

Con

My opponent raises several interesting points. However, I would first like to correct a mistake in my own argument. I stated that "Pinochet and most of his men were trained by SOA", but Pinochet himself was not actually a graduate of SOA. Thanks to pro for helping me correct this slight mistake.

However, 1/7 men in DINA, the notorious Chilean agency that committed human rights violations, were trained by SOA. In fact, up to 1991 a ceremonial sword and a note from Pinochet were held on display in SOA. There were at lest 30 graduates of SOA in Chile alone that we're accused of human rights violations.

Secondly, the cited cases by my opponent are the most minor. A complete list can be found here: http://www.soaw.org...

Finally, the point of the unethical methods used in training, which I cited earlier, has not been answered. I would like my opponent to answer the cold, hard evidence that SOA trained it's graduates in unethical interrogation methods such as psychological torture and the use of hypnosis and narcotics.

Thanks for the debate. Good luck to pro!
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by mcdorr72 2 years ago
mcdorr72
Good job Raistlin!!!
Posted by Raistlin 2 years ago
Raistlin
I have to say, it's more than a little disappointing that nobody voted. Good job to mcdorr72 for giving a great debate!
Posted by Raistlin 2 years ago
Raistlin
Exercise your rights and vote!
Posted by Raistlin 2 years ago
Raistlin
It's been a good debate, no matter who wins.
Posted by mcdorr72 2 years ago
mcdorr72
Thank you I will check that out now!!!
Posted by LeeRials 2 years ago
LeeRials
I hope you found our actual website, which has a lot of info, plus both telephone and email contact addresses (and my photo, poor as it is!). the site is at: benning.army.mil/tenant/whinsec
Posted by mcdorr72 2 years ago
mcdorr72
I have gone to the website for the WHINSEC but I couldn't glean much info from the website. I would also love to visit Ft. Benning but I am a 13 year old from Tucson, Arizona so I am not able to travel there alone.
Posted by LeeRials 2 years ago
LeeRials
As the Public Affairs Officer at WHINSEC, I'm curious if either of the debaters have bothered to go to the Institute's website to see what it is all about. Just for the record, WHINSEC replaced the School of the Americas in 2001, and teaches a variety of courses to people from countries all around the hemisphere, including Canada, Caribbean nations, and the U.S. as well. Everything taught is U.S. doctrine--legal, moral, and ethical--and every student (and instructor) gets specific instruction in respecting human rights and the role of the military in democratic society. Come see for yourself; we are open every workday.
Posted by sengejuri 2 years ago
sengejuri
You guys have no idea what you're talking about. I am stationed at Ft. Benning and I work with WHINSEC. WHINSEC is basically a spanish language version of the U.S. Army Captain's Career Course. They do not teach any kind of "guerrilla" or "terrorist" tactics. They certainly don't teach torture or interrogation. The school is simply designed to increase cooperation and interaction with our South American allies.
Posted by sengejuri 2 years ago
sengejuri
Pretty funny to see this topic pop up - I have actually worked with WHINSEC - I didn't think many people knew what it was.
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