Tuesday, October 30, 2007

If conservatives love Reagan so much...

...perhaps they should emulate Reagan's stance on torture:
"The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiations of the Convention [Against Torture]. It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today," - president Ronald Reagan, 1988.
Now whether Reagan lived up to this I don't know. He certainly seemed to be fine supporting a number of regimes that used torture (e.g. apartheid South Africa). But you compare this rhetoric to what the current crop of Republican contenders is spewing at the debates and it's night and day.

I never really grokked the cult of Reagan worship among the American right. There isn't an equivalent on the American left: we certainly prefer Bill Clinton to George W. Bush, but we don't worship the guy and we are aware of his faults. And the Reagan administration did some things that would be anathema to the modern American right: it agreed to raise taxes, sold arms to Iran, and made peace with an "Evil Empire". But that doesn't stop the current crop of Republicans from invoking him at every opportunity (perhaps they have discovered his name is a magical incantation capable of suppressing unwanted homosexual feelings).

So if there is going to be a Reagan cult, why not have it do some good and help us get away from this bloodthirsty and naive notion that torture is going to make us safer. It won't. Indeed, it may have had a role in getting us into the current Iraq quagmire. Torture is for breaking people and getting them to tell you what you want to hear. Not for getting accurate intelligence. No wonder it seems to be popular with this administration.

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