They only think they hate us by mattsteinglass
May 18, 2009, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Human Rights and Torture, Vietnam

Eli Lake has an interesting idea: the claim that torturing people harms the reputation of the US is a “bullshit argument”. (Via Andrew Sullivan.) You can see him present this sophisticated analytical lemma at around 32:00 of this Bloggingheads episode. See, apparently, because several European governments went along with US requests to establish CIA “black sites”, the hundreds of millions of people in Turkey, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, China, India, Brazil, Germany, South Korea, and the rest of the world whose opinions of the US plummeted after revelations of American government torture were made public have been transmuted into bullshit. It’s not clear to me whether Lake is saying that the people themselves are in fact bullshit, or whether it’s only their opinions that are bullshit; perhaps he will elaborate in another Bloggingheads.

And Reihan Salam agrees with him. Funny, you know, I do detect the pungent smell of shit coming from somewhere.

P.S. — Lake also offers an entirely novel defense of the Bush Administration here: The stuff the US did during the Phoenix Program in Vietnam was much worse! So much for the Swift Boaters — it seems the young John Kerry and the Winter Soldier guys were right, US interrogators really did routinely torture Vietnamese captives? To use Lake’s favorite locution, this is, in fact, “bullshit”. Lake sort of semi-acknowledges that in fact it was mainly South Vietnamese intelligence and PRU’s who did the assassinations and torture in operations that wound up under the Phoenix umbrella; he seems oblivious to the moral distinction between advising local armed forces who engage in brutal atrocities as part of their civil war, and engaging in such brutal atrocities ourselves. He also seems to elide the fact that brutality by US forces in Vietnam, and knowing collusion with the brutal South Vietnamese dictatorship, destroyed the US’s international moral credibility for a generation, which was the point under discussion.


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