11 December 2014

America and the torture chronicles

So the U.S. has finally and formally confessed its sins. Good for the Americans. All nations sin, the better ones own up. That the CIA ran a torture regime isn't really news but it's important for the U.S. to officially get the nasty business out on the table, discussed and debated. This is the best way to lance a festering boil of endless rumour, pique the national conscience, and avoid repeating mistakes that led a nation founded on noble principles down this dark path.

The better angels of the nation's nature have had their say. Now, unfortunately, some of the worst are having theirs. This refreshing display of telling the people the truth, ugly as it may be, is being tainted by all too many Americans of lesser honour. Some justify the torture, some say it shouldn't have been revealed as it may endanger American lives (national security is such a versatile excuse) or simply that it needlessly embarrasses the nation, some even insist it couldn't possibly have happened. The magnitude of these complaints makes it clear that avoiding future descents into the depths will require great vigilance.

The international community has been quick to condemn the U.S. for its abuses, and rightly so. United Nations special rapporteur Ben Emmerson stated that the Americans are obligated to bring those responsible to justice, and that too is correct. The UN should not be too righteous, however, as many of its members use torture, worse torture than the Americans used; they use it more extensively and are using it as we speak. Nonetheless, this is the United States, not Putin's Russia, the guilty should indeed be called to account in a court of law. If they are not, then the lesson will not be properly learned and the United States will not be able to claim it is truly a nation under the rule of law.


  1. Hi Bill. Buckdog has a great post about Cheney fingering Bush Jr. as in on it from the start. It seems Cheney fears he'll be left to swing for this and won't go alone.


  2. Bill, I've been thinking on this for a while and I'm left wondering if this sort of atrocity could even happen without our complacency or even tacit support.

    We've not had our "post-Nazi moment" when the general population abruptly denounces what they have, until then, condoned or willfully ignored. Yet, just like the Germans at Nuremberg, this saga is being watched by the world as it unfolds.

    America, for much too long, has relied on its supposed "moral authority" to excuse the use of its military dominance despite an extensive body of laws prohibiting it. The reaction of a divided Congress and a reticent White House strips them of that moral authority something being actively exploited by those typically on the receiving end of American morality lectures, especially China and Russia. That reverberates through the Muslim world and Third World nations.

    It is, perhaps, one of the final nails in America's coffin. I expect the Chinese will use this to reinforce their effort to ditch the US greenback as the world's reserve currency. That would greatly worsen America's current difficulties, especially their already wobbly economy and their largely ignored inequality threats.

    Will America sacrifice its pride to uphold its honour? I find that very hard to imagine.

  3. I would not be too hasty, Mound, in driving in those nails. The U.S. has faced great moral crises in the past and always muddled through. Prior to its civil war, for instance, the country was practically run by slavers, but it overcame them and their wickedness. I believe it triumphs over its sins because it has at its core, although often obscured by reactionaries, a powerful urge to freedom and decency.

    In any case, even while I often shudder at its foreign policy, I love the place. How can you not love a people who invented the blues, baseball and hollywood?