Tzvetan Todorov on Bush and Torture


Tzvetan Todorov on “intellectual torturers”:

The newly published documents do not disclose the very facts of torture, which were already well known by whomever wanted to know them. But they do reveal a great deal of information about how the torture sessions unfolded and how the agents involved perceived them.

What is most striking is the discovery of niggling little rules, outlined in CIA manuals and co-opted by the government’s legal executives. One would have thought that torture was the result of blunders or unintentional excesses committed on the spur of the moment. On the contrary, these memos make clear that torture was a tactic formulated in minute detail. Continue reading

Bush and The State of Exception


Here’s an interesting article from Harper’s dealing with the recent Supreme Court decision:

What exactly did Kennedy mean by referring to a Constitution that can be “switched on and off at will”? In presenting the opposing viewpoint this way he was taking dead aim at the notion of a state of exception which underlies the whole architecture of Bush war on terror policies. Simply put, these policies argue that while the Executive is limited by the checks and balances of the American constitution during peacetime and at home, all those shackles fall away when war erupts and when he acts outside the nation’s territory. This viewpoint has limited historical precedents, but no Administration has pressed it quite so fiercely as that of George W. Bush. Read the whole article.

So Bush and Co. could be getting their ideas from the same source as the ‘cool’ graduate students – Carl Schmitt – only when Bush does it, it actually is kind of scary…

Bush’s Semiorrhea


From J Street (I’ve added some links):

Speaking to Israel’s Parliament, President Bush accused those who believe in diplomacy to make America and Israel safe of indulging in a “foolish delusion” and the “false comfort of appeasement.”

Even more offensive, he likened us to those who favored talking to rather than defeating Adolf Hitler on the eve of World War II. How dare he invoke the memory of the Holocaust to justify his disastruous policies.

For seven and a half years, this President’s policies have fueled the fires of extremism rather than dampening them. His delusions led us into a disastrous war in Iraq. His disdain for diplomacy has alienated friends and emboldened enemies.

And the results? The forces of extremism are stronger than ever. Al Qaeda is on the move – into Iraq and elsewhere. Moderates are on the defensive from Lebanon to the Palestinian territories and elsewhere. And the United States and Israel are less secure.

This is Bush’s legacy. And he has the nerve to accuse us of indulging in “foolish delusions”?

This, Mr. President, is not what we want to hear on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. Real friends of Israel know that only a US-led diplomatic offensive in the region will resolve the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israel conflicts and ensure Israel’s security for another 60 years.

I don’t know if I’d go so far to say “only a US-led” diplomatic offensive will help move towards a resolution, but Bush’s speech in front of the Knesset was um…pretty silly. I wonder if Bush really thinks that Obama is to Iran or Palestine as Neville Chamberlian was to Germany, but I suspect that remark was also directed to many of the European countries that favor a diplomatic tack (instead of brute force) as well, especially in their criticisms of Bush’s debacle in Iraq, as well as the ongoing ravings of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

There was an interesting op-ed in the Buenos Aires Herald about 60 years of Israel here. Here is an excerpt: Continue reading