Friday, December 15, 2006

Torture

In the US, even under the egregious administration of George W. Bush, torture is - in theory at least - impermissible, unimaginable. It is not the American way. At least they feel obliged to say, to put on record, to eliminate by definitional fiat: Americans do not torture. In India, our police boast about torture: 'Torture is the only deterrent for terrorism...I do it for the nation.' Here's a mindless philosophical conundrum for you: is it better to live in a world in which torture happens, but it's not ok to say it does, or in a world where torture happens and we frankly acknowledge that it does?

Oh, and while we're on the subject, we should ban the use of the phrase 'national interest' in the justification of public policy. Not because of the abuse to which it has been subject from the very dawn of the nation-state - nothing so profound as that - but just because it's too brief. Dude, we need details.

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