Friday, July 10, 2009

The war on tobacco will kill soldiers

From Countercolumn again. Jason argues a ban on tobacco in the armed forces is a very bad idea. Among other reasons, one not that obvious:

Further, I wouldn't disregard the role of cigarrettes on the battlefield - especially the countergeurrilla battlefield. From a humint or interrogater's point of view, or simply from the perspective of a local leader trying to build a relationship with an Iraqi or Afghan, the simple act of offering a nicotine-starved Iraqi a quality American cigarette, and lighting one up one's self, is a time-honored way of establishing a rapport with a local or detainee - and is frequently the first and necessary step in breaking the ice and gaining the trust and cooperation of a local or detainee.

Honestly, we wouldn't get NEAR the HUMINT we do without it. Verily I say unto you... if tobacco were to vanish from U.S. soldiers' kits tomorrow, there would be an almost immediate and bloody, but nearly untraceable consequence on the ground. It would significantly degrade our relationship with locals and our ability to gain intelligence from detainees and HUMINT sources. Tread VERY SLOWLY here.

Tobaccophobes like to argue that if a ban saves even one life, it's worth it. Well, if its presence in the battlefield saves even one life, it's worth allowing soldiers to continue to have it.

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