Abu Ghraib

Trying Political Leaders
May 21, 2010

I. Trying political leaders: I do not mean trying them out, in advance, to see if we are likely to find their leadership disastrous, though that might be a good idea if we could find a way of doing it. In politics, judgment does not have to be, and often cannot be, after the fact. But it is post facto judgment that I wish to discuss: the morality and wisdom of putting political leaders on trial after we have endured their leadership and, perhaps, their crimes.

Trying Political Leaders
May 21, 2010

I. Trying political leaders: I do not mean trying them out, in advance, to see if we are likely to find their leadership disastrous, though that might be a good idea if we could find a way of doing it. In politics, judgment does not have to be, and often cannot be, after the fact. But it is post facto judgment that I wish to discuss: the morality and wisdom of putting political leaders on trial after we have endured their leadership and, perhaps, their crimes.

The Guantanamo Obsession and the Prisoners Who Will Neither Be Tried Nor Released
January 23, 2010

Barack Obama is stuck with another of his campaign pledges. There are still nearly 200 prisoners in Guantanamo. I, for one, do not care if they are moved to a jailhouse in Illinois. But I still wonder what is wrong with that tip of Cuba (which happens to be U.S. territory) functioning as a penitentiary. In any case, the deadline that candidate Obama set for President Obama to meet--the end of last year--has now passed.

The Deadly Jester
December 02, 2008

In Defense of Lost Causesby Slavoj Žižek(Verso, 504 pp., $34.95)Violenceby Slavoj Žižek(Picador, 272 pp., $14)I.Last year the Slovenian philosopher SlavojŽižek published a piece in The New York Times deploring America's use of torture to extract a co

The Thin Line
May 21, 2007

The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil By Philip Zimbardo (Random House, 551 pp., $27.95) WHY DO human beings commit despicable acts? One answer points to individual dispositions; another answer emphasizes situational pressures. In 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stressed the importance of individual dispositions in describing terrorists as “simply evil people who want to kill.” Situationists reject this view. They believe that horrible acts can be committed by perfectly normal people.

Athwart History
March 19, 2007

Although he remains the most eminent conservative in the United States, his face and voice recognized by millions, William F. Buckley, Jr. has all but retired from public life. At the apex of his influence, when Richard Nixon and, later, Ronald Reagan occupied the White House, Buckley received flattering notes on presidential letterhead and importuning phone calls from Cabinet members worried about their standing in the conservative movement.

Abu Ghraib Out Of Style?
October 04, 2006

I am almost certain that you would recognize the paintings and drawings of Fernando Botero, the Columbian artist who shows at Marlborough Gallery in New York. He's the one with the fattened bodies, puffed up men and women and equally puffed up children. He has made grossly fat grossly chic, at least for the Latin American set and even those of its members who are quite svelte.

The Abolition Of Torture
December 19, 2005

Why is torture wrong? It may seem like an obvious question, or even one beneath discussion. But it is now inescapably before us, with the introduction of the McCain Amendment banning all "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" of detainees by American soldiers and CIA operatives anywhere in the world. The amendment lies in legislative limbo.

Low Clearance
October 10, 2005

In January 2006, a court in Northern Virginia will hear a case in which, for the first time, the federal government has charged two private citizens with leaking state secrets. CBS News first reported the highly classified investigation that led to this prosecution on the eve of the Republican National Convention. On August 27, 2004, Lesley Stahl told her viewers that, in a "full-fledged espionage investigation," the FBI would soon "roll up" a "suspected mole" who had funneled Pentagon policy deliberations concerning Iran to Israel.

Correspondence
July 25, 2005

POPULAR DEMAND Gregg Easterbrook’s hopeful essay on the possibility that warfare is trending toward obsolescence fails to meet the aspirations of its lofty title (“The End of War?” May 30). Warfare may presently be in decline as a result of increased democratization and prosperity, lack of conflict between superpowers, and improved international peacekeeping. But Easterbrook underplays the threat of nations going to war in order to secure scarce resources in the face of booming population growth.

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