1 oct. 2006

I woke up with bad heartburn last night at around 2:30. These are the thoughts that I had:

Looking at justifications for torture circulating nowadays, I think there are some questionable assumptions there:

We are uniquely virtuous. A technique that would be evil and reprehensible in the hands of other nations will not have the same corrupting effect on us. It doesn't hurt quite as much if the torturer is an American. Anyway we don't actually cut people's hands off!

If you are not a "terrorist" you have nothing to worry about. After all, we know that the 10,000 (or many more) people who disappeared in the Argentine Dirty War were all guilty of something. They never just picked someone up because her name appeared in the address book of another "subversive." Anyway, we have legal traditions like habeas corpus here that will protect us. [Oh... oops. Maybe we won't have that for long either.] Anyway, comparisons to Argentina or Chile are ridiculous. It's not like those regimes took their cue from the US or anything. Well, maybe the School of the Americas did train torturers; maybe Kissinger did give the green light for human rights abuses. But we've been uniquely virtuous since then, with a few tiny exceptions maybe...

Our enemies are uniquely evil. The basic human dignity that we recognize in all human beings is absent there. Why? Well, because they are the enemies of such a uniquely virtuous nation!

The war or conflict in question is a unique one. The "battlefield" is everywhere and anywhere at once. It has no conceivable ending, since "terrorism" cannot simply surrender to us one day. Rules of war made for more traditional conflicts don't apply any more, in the absence of spatial or temporal limits. Hence it is unreasonable to put any constraints on the use of military power.

The idea of American exceptionalism, in other words. No standard that we would apply to an Argentine general has any application to the US. Because, we are the US! Everything about us, our enemies, and the situation, is unique and does not fall under conventional standards like the Geneva Convention, the International Proclamation of Human Rights, etc...