Sunday, December 6, 2009

Glen Greenwald on US 'regression'

"When it comes to torture, the vast bulk of the country is now to the "right" (for lack of a better term) of Ronald Reagan, who at least in words (if not in deeds) insisted upon an absolute prohibition on the practice and mandatory prosecution for those responsible.

With these new numbers, it's virtually impossible to find a country with as high a percentage of torture supporters as the U.S. has. In Iran, for instance, only 36% believe that torture can be justified in some cases, while 43% believe all torture must be strictly prohibited. Similarly, 66% of Palestinians, 54% of Egyptians, and over 80% of Western Europeans believe torture is always wrong. The U.S. has a far lower percentage than all of those nations of individuals who believe that torture should always be prohibited. At least on the level of the citizenry (as opposed to government), we're basically the leading torture advocacy state in the world."

the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself. people eagerly give up democratic rights and duties only when they are afraid. this is where we find ourselves: thinking that making a prisoner suffer can keep us safe. and lots of politicians seek to capitalize on this hysteria.


Starfire said...

Ever since I saw '24', I've seen a rash of TV shows from the US portraying graphic torture scenes with hardly any moral examination. The torturer is often portrayed as a dutiful man doing what needs to be done, and I am expected to draw some vicarious enjoyment, mixed with my natural horror for what is going on.

Torture has to be rejected, as not only does it breach basic human rights, including those protecting against 'cruel and unusual punishments', but is also counter-productive. Information gained could well be wrong (something the TV shows shy away from) and the tortured is sure to be an implacable enemy, in the political field if not becoming a terrorist/torturer himself.

To be fair to the shows, my window into the American psyche, they generally have an awareness that it is wrong. But by consistently portraying it as effective, they are essentially attempting to legitimise it. Morally speaking, how is that essentially different from TV programs in the Islamic world, trying to justify suicide bombers by calling them martyrs?

If it's said that the torturers are trying to save lives, well then the counterproductive potential of it should be noted. No doubt it's use can be related to the growth of 'insurgencies' being faced, but this recieves little press.

Let us remember that the so-called 'protectors' in the CIA et all helped and armed the younger Bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein that the regular armies later confronted. Their excuse of a near-incompetent 'not knowing what would happen' have to be taken with a grain of salt, or two.

Even a child can see that evil means lead to similar ends. The law of karma won't be abrogated just for 'special countries' like the US. It may not effect them directly, but it will certainly affect those they are trying to protect.

So it is quite sad that the freedom-loving US is trying to see if the means of tyrants can prove effective. They will have to find other ways to deal with implacable opponents.

ratbert said...

starfire -- yes, i wholeheartedly concur with your analysis. these portrayals dress themselves up as hard-headed and rational, when in fact they are victims of irrational, fearful logic.