Responding to Dick Cheney’s infamous performance on Meet the Press, Andrew Sullivan delivers an admission at odds with his thesis of the irredeemable evil of the Bush Administration’s enhanced interrogations program. Sullivan addresses a set of exchanges between Cheney and…
The danger for torture opponents in accepting collateral damage to the bases of public discussion, not least in the involvement of the proponents of public reason in habitual defamation of designated enemy political combatants, is the topic for a different discussion, or, more likely, non-discussion.
Because the idea of “terror” is a definitional and circumscribing topic for our “way of life,” perhaps for ways of life at all, we should not be surprised if it is not merely difficult to define, but ends up seeming to connect everything to everything – if every particular question explodes like a conceptual bomb striking ever other question in the vicinity.
As is typical for Administration critics among left-liberals and libertarians, Digby blames the the executive branch, here represented by its last two chiefs and its current top lawyer, for offering lawyerly locutions on a decisively legal matter, as though the answers to the underlying questions would and must be both non-legalistically simple as well as simply favorable to the ideological liberal legal position. As an ideologue, she is unwilling to imagine that the truth might be relatively simple, but unfavorable to her ideology or at least to the notion of its universality and completeness. The spokesperson for the executive branch is at such times embodying the foundational paradoxes of the liberal democratic order, at the classic exceptional moment in which liberalism encounters the coincidence of its own real-political and conceptual limits.
In an “objective” if not necessarily “morally clear” accounting, the thousands killed and thousands more disfigured and terrified would receive many thousands of times greater concern. The child dismembered by a bomb blast, the soldier buried alive in a bunker, the prisoner merely sent off to some conventional Hell, and on and on, precisely as they become multiplied by thousands or millions and turned into numbers, all seem to command less outrage and concern than the captive in manacles.
Apparently, at virtually the same moment that I was putting up my placeholder post on 0D30, and asserting that “[t]he unreserved condemnation of torture will on close analysis sooner or later reveal unexpected or suppressed ‘ambiguities’ in any observer’s position,” Kyle Cupp at the League of Ordinary Gentleman was writing a post under the title “Torture Isn’t Complicated.”
I suspect that Kotsko features himself an interesting radical rather than a mere liberal. It would seem that in this context, both liberals and radicals are “inconsequentialist.” The difference is that the liberals are committed to discussion (perhaps “at other blogs”) that goes nowhere, if without their knowledge; the radicals continually re-commit themselves to nothing – openly and consistently – that is, hypocritically.
Tom Ricks reflects on the American reaction to 9/11 – “Rumsfeld, America, and apologies” – and how his own sense of the world has changed: “I never expected to live in a country whose government officially embraced torture.” He points…