27 March 2008

Putting a Stop to Debate About Torture?

The notion of a debate about torture, after all, is idiotic. Everyone agrees that torture is a bad thing. Everyone agrees what counts as torture. And everyone agrees that the U.S. via various military and intelligence agencies practices torture directly and via various proxies does so indirectly. So what is there to debate? To what do we need to put an end? Regardless, The Washington Monthly has published this symposium, complete with contributions by many luminaries from politics and the academy, in an effort to help end the "torture debate."

That is all well and good, but the Editor's intro to the symposium suggests that just maybe not everyone wants to fully recognize the extent of the problem. The intro reads:
"In the wake of September 11, the United States became a nation that practiced torture. Astonishingly—despite the repudiation of torture by experts and the revelations of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib—we remain one."
Yes, despite recent revelations, we remain a nation that practices torture. But let's be frank. Please! We did not become a nation that practices torture only in the wake of September 11, 2001. There is ample, readily available evidence to the contrary [perhaps the Editors at TWM might start e.g., here]. If we cannot look at history with something like an unblinkered eye, how likely is it that we will stop talking bullshit and arguing about the niceties of this or that abhorrent practice?

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Everyone agrees that torture is a bad thing. Everyone agrees what counts as torture."

No they don't. And no they don't.

You're just too cowardly, and smug, to consider a situation where waterboarding or similar might get information from terrorist scum that could perhaps save hundreds of lives.

Stop being so goddamn smug.

28 March, 2008 15:54  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Anon,

Been watching too many episodes of "24"? Unfortunately, that sort of fanatasy world (fabricated by a right-wing denizen of the so-called 'liberal media') doesn't resemble the real world in which U.S. agents are torturing people. Why? Because torture is about asserting power over helpless captives not about getting information from them. And common sense (as opposed to your ideological delusions) suggests just why torture is not a reliable way of getting information even if that were the point.

The useful thing about deniers like yourself is that there are probbably just enough of you to keep the various members of BushCo from realizing that they really are in the queue for a war crimes tribunal. The bus is warming up ...

28 March, 2008 18:09  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Well readers, I thought that I'd just delete this comment from our anonymous expert on various topics like torture and Islam .... but it it so ludicrous that I thought I'd share it. So here you go:

"Been reading Das Kapitaal again?

Do you really think torture is used for personal gratification by asserting power? - THAT is fantasy; merely demonising the establishment.

"Common sense" suggests you don't know what the results of torture are and shouldn't swagger around making assertions like you do, that at least some information is obtained.

The perverse thing about bigoted Lefties like you is you prompt people to vote for Bush. Ever considered that? People recognise you exist, and don't like the bullshit you talk."

Of course there is nothing in Marx about torture. Lots about exploitation and violence, but not torture directly. So no reason to read Capital on that score. But you wouldn't know that because you are talking Bullshit all the time.

No one but you said anything about "personal gratification" - a policy of torture typically employs socio-paths, but the policy is not about personal gratificaiton. It is about power and demonstrating to the tortured (and others) who holds that power. Stop watching 24 and read something reliable on the topic. Start with Elaine Scarry's The Body in Pain. Go to Jacabo Timmerman's Prisonor Without a Name, Cell Without a Number. In other words stop being so determinedly ignorant.

And since Bush can't run again I am not worried about people voting for him. (After all, he didn't really get enough votes the first time!) But the popll numbers suggest that virtually no one will vote Republican this time around - a disasterous war, econommic crisis, shameful torture policies .... Why would anyone demonstrate their follishness by doing so? So, no worries on that score. Bye!

29 March, 2008 08:26  

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