Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Catch of the Day

To Adam Serwer, for an excellent post over at Plum Line pointing out, once again, that torture apologists -- whatever their other lack of virtues -- are talking through their hats when they falsely claim that torture was responsible for killing bin Laden.

I've pretty much stopped writing about this topic, because it's just too depressing. It seems almost certain that the next Republican president will resume the Bush-era torture policies that even Bush abandoned. We can think about this in terms of intensity: the small group that really cares about opposition to torture is mainly found within the Democratic party, while the small group that really favor using torture are found in the GOP. Yes, I know there's a very, very small group of principled conservatives and libertarians who are strongly anti-torture, but it's just such a small group, and many of them aren't Republicans and therefore don't balance off pro-torture Republicans.

The one organized group that might have changed that are the military and the intelligence services, but they have mixed interests because of possible culpability for actions taken during the Bush administration. In my view (and longtime readers know about this; see "Pardon them" posts found in the right margins of this page), what needed to be done by Barack Obama was to find a way to give those groups anti-torture incentives. By instead ducking the issue whenever possible, Obama utterly failed at that. I'm afraid that now it's too late. I suppose it's still possible that the next Republican president will simply be repulsed by torture and not implement it, despite the strong party inclination to do so; we can also hope that having gone through the last decade, the uniformed military and the intelligence agencies find a way to fight back effectively. But mostly I'm just pessimistic and sad about it.

Still, I'm certainly glad that Adam Serwer (and many others, beginning with Andrew Sullivan), are keeping up the fight. So: nice catch!

1 comment:

  1. Why are you so certain a GOP president would reinstate it? Serwer calls them dead-enders for a reason. No one actually talks about this issue anymore except the ex-Bush officials who are directly implicated. They defend what they did, they use it as a partisan club against Obama, but there's no organized call to bring torture back. A terrorist attack could change everything (again), but if that doesn't happen, I really doubt President Romney would rush to do this.


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