[lit-ideas] Re: lawyers approve torture

  • From: Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 7 Jun 2004 22:41:03 -0700 (PDT)

--- John McCreery <mccreery@xxxxxxx> wrote:

 One could argue that US citizens, protected by the
> Constitution, should 
> never be tortured by US authorities, but not see the
> same protections 
> extended to non-citizens.

*The problem is that other countries could apply the
same argument with regard to US citizens.
> One could argue, more broadly, that immunity from
> torture is a right of 
> citizens of all states that adhere to International
> Law. But what of 
> citizens of states that do not adhere to
> international law.
> The usual military argument for the Geneva
> Conventions is prudential. 
> We treat the soldiers of enemy states well in the
> expectation that our 
> own soldiers will be treated well if captured.

I would suggest that, in the globalized world, there
is more than two sides to every conflict. I receive a
newsletter from a website for ESL (English as Second
Language) teachers called English To Go. The last one
came with a subject line "Is Torture Ever Justified ?"
Some pros and cons for classroom discussion were
suggested. Presumably, the ESL teachers all over the
world should now be discussing it with students.

Previously, when we wanted to condemn human rights
abuses, we could point to "the West" as a place where
such things were not done. Although such criticisms
did not always work, they did have some effect. But
from now on, we will be told that the US also
tortures. Even if the torture is only applied to some
exceptional cases, such distinctions will probably get
lost on the way.

It would be nice if, from now on, we could frame the
discussion in terms of what is right and wrong,
instead of in terms of what the "the West" does, but I
am skeptical. For some time to come, the West will
continue to wield economic and military power, and be
emulated. If there is no sense of moral responsibility
to go with the power, we are going to be in big


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