December 18, 2005

McCain's License to Torture?

American liberals may well accuse Senator McCain of having served as a useful tool for the Bushites on the torture issue, in that, by diverting the public's attention away from the real problem — the US Administration’s preposterous definition of torture — he has made it impossible to discuss the issue that really should be discussed. But that is only one part of the story. Yes, it is true that Bush can now simply claim that the US "does not torture," skirting completely around the question of what he means by the word "torture." The Bushites have manipulated the definition of torture so as to make it meaningless. And it is true that, meanwhile, activities that any rational person would consider to be torture will continue as before.

But this whole discussion conveniently neglects the fact that US governments of both political stripes have always made extensive use of torture, whether by their own agents or through proxies. The current debates make it appear as if torture were something new for the US. McCain cannot have been unaware of this history, knowing what he does about torture.

Perhaps his whole campaign around restoring "America’s honour" has really been about trying to stave off the risk of this grisly history — and the real nature of the American system of government — penetrating the public's consciousness any more than it has already.

To look at it another way, McCain, by obliterating both the history and the present in a single stroke, has given carte blanche, not only to this particular Administration, but also to all future (and past) US governments, to employ torture whenever, however, and wherever they wish. Quite an achievement for one who is purportedly such a vehement opponent of the practice.

My other posts on related topics:
Commandress in Chief
Opportunism, thy name is Dubya!


Andynonomous said...

It's amazing how many people forget the 'School of the Americas' and the treatment Latin Americans got in this whole torture debate. I mean, it was only 20 years ago.

L'Akratique said...

From today.

BeerIsClear said...

The torture the administration is involved in with the prisoners is nothing compared to the torture they put every American through every day.