Lindsay makes a novel argument against torture, saying that by hurting the USA’s image in Canada and Europe, it strips the US of needed allies and hence undermines its national security.
Without real trials, the world has no assurance that [terror suspects] are guilty of anything. We are being asked to trust that the president is just, benign, and well-informed. Yet, this is the same president who flouts treaty obligations and champions torture. The civilized world would rightly regard such a leader as a despot.
If this legislation passes, the global war on terror could cease to be global. In the grand scheme of things a few extra confessions from squalid cells in secret prisons are worthless compared to the respect and cooperation of our allies.
My response was, “Maybe torturing people will help American national security; the level of respect people have for the US right now is so low that instigating one more atrocity can’t harm it.” To that Lindsay answered,
Alon, I was thinking about the current situation in Afghanistan. British, Canadian, and Dutch forces have committed thousands of troops to Afghanistan between them.
NATO is asking for more troops for a fall offensive against the Taliban. However, public opinion is increasingly divided in these countries about whether the Afghanistan mission should continue at all. I think opposition to American human rights abuses and power grabs contributes to the backlash against the Afghanistan mission.
There are international efforts to track and arrest terrorists. However, if the United States insists on its right to torture whoever it wants, and/or imprison them for life, other may countries will hesitate to share information with American authorities.
First, small nitpick: countries other than the US aren’t picky about allies to share intelligence with. Britain foiled the August 10th plot partly with the help of Pakistan, a country that everyone right of Chomsky agrees has a worse human rights record than the US.
More substantially, I don’t see any evidence that Abu-Ghraib made anyone outside the US less supportive of its foreign policy. Most Brits have been against American Middle East adventurism in the first place; any anti-Americanism in Britain is easier to attribute to the Iraq War and Tony Blair’s Ameriphilia than to Abu-Ghraib, which at the time was overshadowed by allegations of similar abuse by British troops (which later turned out to be false).