Conflicting Accounts of Obama’s Foreign Policy Achievements

Andrew Sullivan wants Obamaites to more aggressively tout the President’s foreign policy achievements: “I think the Obamaites need to be more aggressive in foreign policy arguments. Obama ended one war in Iraq, dispatched Osama bin Laden and Muammar Qaddafi without a single US casualty, re-set relations with Russia, brought unprecedentedly united international pressure against Iran’s nuclear bomb potential, wiped…

Hopelessness and Torture

“It’s a mistake to say this was about inflicting pain. These measures were about instilling a sense of hopelessness, and that led them to compliance.” — Jose Rodriguez, former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (2002-5) His statement, for the way he said it, is all the more striking.  It was not about inflicting pain…

Shande

I was going to keep my damn mouth shut today, because, well, my attitude toward the news is May his name be blotted out! and it’s kind of hard to shake a grogger at your computer every few minutes.  Then: There is this: “Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of…

Compare and Contrast

From TNR’s excellent review of The Killer Trail, a history of  one murderous French expedition into the heart of 19th century Africa (emphasis mine): The Europeans, Taithe notes, never recognized African kingdoms as states, and never interpreted the Geneva Convention as applying to these colonial wars. “Against the uncivilized,” the historian writes, “‘no need to…

Let’s Review

Attorney General Eric Holder has announced a preliminary investigation into abusive interrogation tactics. This investigation was recommended by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The scope of the investigation is limited to people who ignored the Bush Administration’s own guidelines for interrogating captives. David Broder still thinks this is too much. Broder’s unique brand…

Was it worth it?

As I understand it, nobody suggests that torture is an ideal policy option. Most people who defend the Bush Administration argue that the unique threat of international terrorism justifies the use of certain otherwise-reprehensible techniques. I’m frankly appalled by this crude utilitarian calculus, but I can at least understand the logic (and surface appeal) of…

Slippery Slopes

Andrew Sullivan’s dissection of one Boston cop’s overtly racist response to the Gates arrest is worth reading in full, but this part caught my eye: And the more you read, the more you realize how deep the Bush-Cheney legacy runs and how the torture and ‘enemy combatant’ state, celebrated nightly on Fox, easily seeps into…

This is your justification?

National Review‘s best argument for “enhanced interrogation” now hinges on the threat posed by . . . Jose Padilla? So we’ve gone from defending torture on the grounds of a ticking time bomb scenario to defending torture on the grounds that a mentally incapacitated prisoner whose ties to Al Qaeda were systematically exaggerated poses a…

Torture vs. Steroids

A cogent point from the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Mark Madsen: When the congressional hearing of Jose Canseco vs. other MLB players created questions about steroid use, Congress acted quickly and decisively and spent the next several years with multiple Congressional hearings related to this important issue. I remember watching impassioned speeches by senators and Congresspeople talking…

torture and terror

“The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.”  ~F. Scott Fitzgerald Sleep deprivation, as Andrew notes, “can sound deceptively banal” compared to other torture techniques.  Of course, keeping someone awake for a night or two certainly can’t be considered torture (if they are able-bodied men or women that is). …

An Exceptionally Moral United States

I have a confession to make.  Despite all my criticisms of waterboarding, American foreign policy interventionism, and a whole host of other aspects of the modern federal government, not to mention my refusal to consider most of Europe to be a socialist hellhole, I am a proud American exceptionalist.  Which is to say that I…

Look Back in Anger

I suspect the debate over torture, atomic weaponry, and morality is rapidly reaching the point of diminishing returns, but I did want to say one last thing on the subject before moving on. For the record, I do not think Truman (or Bush) is a Nazi; I do recognize that the decision to drop the…