Thursday, December 23, 2004

Where's the Call?

The Legal Fiction blog has a superb post on why Conservatives should be outraged over torture (link: Volokh). It's a superb post, I highly recommend it. My favorite quote:
Again, regardless of what I think of certain neocons, there are some good faith neoconservatives out there. Assuming that this is your view, I don’t see how you could be anything but enraged at the administration for this debacle. That’s because the torture scandal strikes at the very heart of your entire vision of foreign policy. To be grossly general, the neocons believe that the current international system is too restrictive upon the United States. They believe that we need to break away from some of these institutions (UN) and be proud to use American power in support of democracy and other human rights across the globe. There’s a sort of Nietzschean element to their vision – America must transcend the current order and, by acting, create a new and better world order.

Leaving aside the Marxist/Rousseauian/French Revolution aspects of this vision, it rests on one critical assumption – that America is a force for good. Without that pillar, the entire neoconservative edifice comes crashing down. Unless you’re morally superior (or at least "good"), there is no moral justification for ignoring international law and abandoning international institutions. These are not people who simply think “might makes right.” Like the French Revolutionaries, there’s a deep moralistic streak in their vision. America is good. If she acts boldly, others will follow and the world would be better. The justification of invading Iraq in spite of world opinion depends upon this assumption that we are a force for good.

The problem, though, is that the great neoconservative experiment ended with the hooded man with the electrodes on his testicles. In one snap of the camera, everything was lost. How can you convince the world to follow when you sanction Scorpion treatment? How can you regain the moral legitimacy that is the foundation of your vision? How can you convince your fellow citizens to abandon international law when this is what happens. It reminds people that there’s a reason we have laws.

The whole thing is stellar. The question is: are Bush's actions immoral or impeachable?

1 comment:

N.S.T said...

The French revolutionaries didn't do what they did because they were moral. They were peasants who got fed up with the aristocracies shit and decided to chop some heads off. The French Revolution is not something to be celebrated, and certainly not something that the U.S. should aspire to instead of Abu Ghraib(An isolated incident, I might add, and where the hell was the New York Times editorial page when the Japanese were tortturing our boys in WWII, where the hell were they when, in an even more apt example, the Viet Cong were torturing our boys in Vietnam)