The media and the international community has one set of moral rules for terrorists and a second set for those who fight them. While civilized people understand the fundamental moral gap between terrorists and the police and military forces fighting them, the self-proclaimed guardians of our moral high ground repeatedly reverse that gap, damning even the most elementary military tactics and demanding that we respect the civil rights of terrorists -- while excusing the crimes and atrocities of the terrorists themselves as merely "reactions" to our oppression of them.
In other words we can't have the moral high ground, so why bother trying for it?
The liberal definition of moral high ground is dependent on the tactics we use and the originating causes of the violence. The conservative definition of moral high ground is rooted in our purpose and the nature of the enemy.
While liberals concentrate on means and causes, conservatives concentrate on ends and the dualism of good against evil. It's an unbreachable gap for as long as liberals remain indoctrinated in their belief in the fundamentally evil nature of civilization and conservatives remain committed to the defense of civilization.
The attempt to achieve some sort of middle ground by limiting interrogation techniques to waterboarding or providing comfortable conditions at Gitmo and maintaining a legal process throughout has failed utterly, because as usual any government tactic to fight terrorism, no matter how moderate, is immediately compared to Nazi Germany and fascism. It's a pointless argument that can only be won by common sense or a blunt object.
It's not a debate that can be won so there's no point in bothering with it. Defending a nation against the Islamic threat is rooted first and foremost in the right of a people to survive. Today that is a real threat in Israel and Europe which are under relentless attack by Islam, yet too many Israelis, Americans and Europeans are invested in preserving some sort of moral high ground. But our moral high ground comes not from the choice of tactics but from the fact that we are defending our nations and fighting for their survival. The defense of home and hearth is the only moral high ground we need.
All options are on the table for our enemies and that means all options should be on the table for us. We are not merely facing a war, we are facing every sort of atrocity followed by demographic overrun and an eventual choice between eradication and enslavement. In the face of that horror, some flee, some collaborate and some stand their ground.
The first option taken off the table should be any need to comply with some imaginary moral high ground. The media and the UN and the EU have increasingly legitimized the tactics of terrorists while delegitimizing the tactics of those fighting against terrorism. There is no benefit to maintaining a "purity of arms" or to constantly show our moral superiority to the enemy when the cost is so enormous.
The equation for fighting terrorism need not be put in terms of moral superiority but in the basic self-interest of self-defense. If the moral high ground is gone, so much the better. We never needed it anyway. We only need to know what we're fighting for and why. The moral high ground debates bog everything down in the swamp of justification and counter-justification, in arguments over acceptable violence and unacceptable violence.
If liberals and terrorists feel that all violence is acceptable for Islamic terrorism, why shouldn't we make the identical argument in reverse. Take the limits, the boundaries off the table. After all the only real incentive for every moral development in Western warfare was that each side had an interest in protecting itself from the other side by taking a tactic off the table. Muslim terrorists have never been forced to cope with this because we are bound by far more rules than they are. Yet the unrestrained reality of naked force may be the only way to show them why restraint is not only moral but in their own interest after all. They've opened the door to violence but only going through that door can help them learn the need to shut it.