American normalism by mattsteinglass
March 18, 2009, 3:08 am
Filed under: Human Rights and Torture

Good to see Anne Applebaum supports prosecution of the US officials who instituted torture policies in the previous administration. But she still feels obliged to couch it in preposterous “America is exceptional” rah-rahism — in this case “the rule of law, and nothing else, is what makes us exceptional.” Wha? The rule of law is pretty widespread among the world’s advanced economies. Contrary to Applebaum’s column, the US is far from the only country that has forced its chief executives to testify or resign over legal and ethical violations — Yitzhak Rabin was forced out in the ’70s for holding dollar-denominated bank accounts, Thaksin Shinawatra for illegalities surrounding the sale of state assets, etc. The US probably does have the distinction of being the only wealthy democracy to impeach its chief executive for lying about extramarital sex, but prosecuting a former chief executive is actually pretty routine and something that Benazir Bhutto, Auguste Pinochet, Thaksin Shinawatra and many others have all enjoyed. Indeed the reason Obama has hesitated to pursue such avenues is that prosecuting former leaders smacks of lawlessnesss and authoritarianism rather than the rule of law. But in this case it seems to be an unfortunate necessity because it looks like senior political leadership actually did order Americans to go torture people.


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