The thing about torture is that its main purpose, historically, has been to coerce confessions out of people. Why would the Bush administration want to do that? Well, maybe because they were looking for stuff like this: “Under torture after his rendition to Egypt, al Libi had provided a confession of how Saddam Hussein had been training al Qaeda in chemical weapons.” Naturally, that information worked its way into Colin Powell’s famous UN presentation. You remember, the one that only a traitor, a coward, or worse a Frenchman could fail to be convinced by. Equally naturally, it was false.
Good article from Justin Logan on N-Pod and the voracious demand for comparing foreign leaders to Hitler. Bonus pop culture reference: “It is unfortunate that Hitler seems to be the only historical analogy that Americans understand. (For many, the name Franz Ferdinand more readily conjures an indie rock band than a key figure at the center of one of history’s great tragedies.)”
Nichola Tucker’s put together a collection of The Atlantic‘s coverage of Pakistan, dating back to the country’s origins in the 1940s. Way back in 1946, the magazine took the view that a “land of the pure” for the subcontinent’s Muslims was a bad idea, arguing that the “two nations” theory of the sub-continent was nonsense since “The rice-eating Moslem mopla of Malabar has far more in common with his Hindu neighbors than he has with the wheat-eating Punjabi Moslem” and that under the circumstances “Only the most confused thinking could produce a two-nation theory in India, where there are dozens of distinct races and languages.”
Patricia Butenis, deputy chief of mission in Baghdad, explains that constantly being at risk of being blown up is something you get used to. Some feel this may not be the best recruiting pitch.
I have to say that I would find Anne Applebaum’s criticism of American celebrities who say nice things about Hugo Chavez to Communist supporters of the Soviet Union were contemporary Venezuela to, um, resemble the USSR in some salient way. Applebaum writes that “Venezuela is easier to idealize than Iran and North Korea, the former’s attitude toward women not being conducive to fashion models, the latter being downright hostile toward Hollywood.” Another way of phrasing this would be that it’s easier to adopt a non-indignant attitude toward the government of Venezuela because it is, in fact, a much better government than the ones they have in Iran and North Korea.
Similarly, surely the author of a book called Gulag is aware that the mass repression of the Gulag was a major aspect of the Soviet system and that it’s absent from Venezuela. Meanwhile, has Applebaum written any columns condemning businessmen or politicians who travel to the capitals of America’s friendly dictators in Cairo, Riyadh, Dubai, etc.? Shouldn’t a person interested in Americans who help prop up authoritarian governments be trying to come up with something to say about Pakistan ?