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"K.S.M. can say he killed Jesus--he has nothing to lose."
August 6, 2007 7:57 AM   Subscribe

The Black Sites. "A rare look inside the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program."
posted by kirkaracha (66 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
This may shock you, but apparently Khalid Sheikh Mohammed didn't do some of the things he confessed to under torture. Real life follows The Onion once again.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:00 AM on August 6, 2007


Good ol' torture. Is there anything it can't do?
posted by DU at 8:09 AM on August 6, 2007


Get reliable information?
posted by lodurr at 8:14 AM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Excellent article. The way the real world works.

Farmer in Afghanistan doesn't want to raise opium as a slave to the local drug lord. Local drug lord responds by leaking information said farmer is part of Al-Qaeda. The US spirits off said farmer to a secret prison. In a couple of months, said farmer confesses to being al-Qaeda and describes an attack to smuggle bombs on to airplanes inside of wooden legs. The TSA responds by forcing all passengers to hop on their right leg and their left leg while passing through line at the airport. A security contractor sells a new machine based on leg-sniffing termites. The peril averted the Congress leaps into action and removes more of our freedoms. Rinse and repeat.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:16 AM on August 6, 2007 [13 favorites]


oooh automated robotic torture? ART
posted by infini at 8:16 AM on August 6, 2007


Haven't read the article yet, but one thing that weighs on my mind.. As a US taxpayer, how much moral responsibility do I personally bear for American torture? What can I do to oppose our torture policy beyond basic passive things like voting and donating money, yet short of heroically activist things like organizing my own lawsuit or going to Iraq myself?
posted by Nelson at 8:36 AM on August 6, 2007


OK, I read the article. It's very well written and careful. It also confirms, once again, that my country is taking actions that I consider deeply immoral. I feel some obligation to protest our torture policies, but I feel powerless to do anything meaningful.
posted by Nelson at 9:02 AM on August 6, 2007


As a US taxpayer, how much moral responsibility do I personally bear for American torture?

Considering the last two presidential elections were stolen, I'd say none. You can do your part to strike back at America's owners by avoiding giving money to large corporations, but that's about it, serf.
posted by interrobang at 9:03 AM on August 6, 2007


Sorry, that's fellow serf.
posted by interrobang at 9:04 AM on August 6, 2007


Didn't they just do this one in the Bourne Ultimatum?
posted by chlorus at 9:34 AM on August 6, 2007


Is it just me or are other non-American (unAmerican?) MeFites getting USA fatigue? I've basically given up hope. The last straw for me was last week's FISA vote. It appears nobody actually gives a fuck any more.*

*Emailing or blogging about the situation does not count as 'giving a fuck'.
posted by unSane at 9:44 AM on August 6, 2007


Emailing or blogging about the situation does not count as 'giving a fuck'.

Please be more precise with your language. Your hyperbole is tedious and does not contribute to the discussion.
posted by lodurr at 9:53 AM on August 6, 2007




Even if the last two elections were "stolen," as a poster here suggests, we still bear all the ethical responsibility for this. Personally we may have no individual control, but collectively, democratically, we do. We are responsible, whether we like it or not, and any attempt to prove otherwise semantically is simply us trying to dodge that responsibility even further.

The question is not if we are responsible. That's easy. The question is "what are we doing to fulfill our responsibility to ourselves and the world."
posted by luriete at 10:07 AM on August 6, 2007


Emailing or blogging about the situation does not count as 'giving a fuck'.

What then, does count? Seppuku on the White House lawn? Self-immolation on the steps of the Capitol? Throwing a bucket of paint on Laura Bush?

All protest is in some way symbolic, or at the very least some way to create awareness of or change some minds about an issue. Emailing and blogging may, in fact be "the least you can do", but if it happens to turn a mind or two it's not nothing.
posted by psmealey at 10:19 AM on August 6, 2007


It seems to me that the disputed anecdote of K.S.M. having the sign "Proud Murderer of 3000 Americans" hung over his door is the psychological key here. Information gained from torture is at best unreliable. The point isn't so much to obtain actionable intelligence as to simply get revenge. We can't get Bin Laden but we can get his surrogates and make them pay.

I keep thinking of an incident described in Ron Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine, in which an Al Qaida operative (the servant, as I recall, of someone important) was tortured and yielded a wealth of information, including plots against various NYC bridges and financial institutions. The police, of course, ramped up security at these targed sites. Then it came out that the detainee was literally insane. All of it was nonsense, the frightened ramblings of an unbalanced individual. And in their need to believe that this hideous practice is worthwhile, his words were treated as though true.

Morality aside, how can any supporter of torture claim that the practice leads to a efficient use of our resources?
posted by Bromius at 10:44 AM on August 6, 2007


It feels so 80's or early 90's to be political. Where are my friends?

(Get off the internet!)

posted by anthill at 10:46 AM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


The article is dated August 13, 2007.

Today is August 6, 2007.

*scratches head*
posted by sidereal at 11:38 AM on August 6, 2007


Re 'giving a fuck' I lived through the reign of Thatcher in the UK and I can assure you that (a) people including me very much gave a fuck, at least from the Miners' Strike onwards, and (b) it was obvious in ways that TV and mass media could not ignore.

Not all symbolic acts are equivalent. Symbols tend to be valued according to how much they cost the symbolizer. An email costs you nothing, unless it is a work of such staggering genius that it crosses oceans and moves the hearts of millions. Are your emails that good? Mine aren't.

Karl Rove laughs every time you hit 'send'.

One thing that strikes me about America's opposition is that it is effectively leaderless, and behaves as such. I mean, Pelosi, Harry Reid, are they supposed to be leaders? On which planet? Meantime all the potential leaders are in a beauty contest and terrified of doing anything controversial. On rare occasions a leader such as MLK pops up and amazing things happen.

I guess my feeling is that American politics is fundamentally, completely, broken and it will take someone outside the current system to fix it. If I had to bet on someone, it would be Gore, but if it was my own money it would be on the status quo remaining.
posted by unSane at 11:40 AM on August 6, 2007


unSane, while as an American I suspect you're probably right about teh fundamental brokenness of American politics, your willingness to reduce issues via broad categorical judgements leads me to suspect your account of things.

Put another way: If you really truly think that "giving a fuck" requires your particular brand of involvement, then I'm afraid I can't consider you a reliable informant.
posted by lodurr at 12:00 PM on August 6, 2007


I don't endorse violent protest. I never said that you have to violently protest to give a fuck. The velvet revolution in Romania still stands out in my memory as perhaps the most astounding thing I have ever seen on TV. I've been in a riot, but only as a photojournalist, and it was pretty fucking scary. I think riots are fucking stupid, and even from a situationalist point of view generally do much more harm than good.

The giving-a-fuck-part is physically turning up.

Physical protest, ie marches, crowds, yelling, bullhorns, placards has an effect that emailing and blogging simply doesn't.

Leaders become leaders when they lead. Someone standing at the front of a march a hundred thousand strong has an obvious meaning. It gives cameras something to photograph. It becomes a news event. People listen.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe all it takes is some REALLY FUCKING ANGRY blog posts and a mass emailing for Americans to reclaim their politics. What do you think?
posted by unSane at 12:18 PM on August 6, 2007


The giving-a-fuck-part is physically turning up.

Let's call it semantics, then. As in, you're redefining "giving a fuck" to mean what you need it to.

What you really mean is "makes a difference." It would be much more effective if you'd just say that, instead of pretending that the phrase "giving a fuck" means "physically turning up."

As I said: Be more precise with your language. Your hyperbole is not useful.
posted by lodurr at 12:24 PM on August 6, 2007


lodurr, your defense of the keyboard activists is really puzzling. You must know that it will take more than just writing emails and blog posts to change things. Otherwise the US wouldn't be in this mess right now.

Even just a bumper sticker is more meaningful than a post on the anonymous de-individuated hyperbolic internet because you are attaching your opinion to your physical self. There is a reason why people feel comfortable ranting here when they wouldn't in person. It is because it is a largely consequence and impact free environment. The internet is also a giant collection of self-selecting echo chambers. It's no battlefield of ideas. Even when I want to hear conservative views I don't go to LGF because I hate it. I choose to ignore them and others like them and thus cut myself off from large swaths of the political environment. They probably do likewise.

If you want to act against torture do it in person. A sign on your front lawn saying "Torture is immoral" is better than a thousand blog posts because people will see, in person, that another real person, who owns a house and drives a car and mows their lawn on weekends thinks this and believes in it strongly enough to risk possibly hostile opposition.
posted by srboisvert at 12:25 PM on August 6, 2007


The brilliance of the concept of "Free Speech" is that it allows citizens to blow off steam so it will never build up to anything that accomplishes anything substantial. Secondly, thanks to the freeing up of wiretap laws, people who believe that free speech is "protected speech" will also be subject to a goverment who can now note particularly effective communicators of civic discontent.
posted by spock at 12:44 PM on August 6, 2007


lodurr, 'what I really mean' was what *I* typed, not what *you* typed. You may find that a useful distinction in future.

happy blogging. let me know how it works out for you.
posted by unSane at 12:44 PM on August 6, 2007


Hey, unSane, I was just calling it the way you presented it. If you don't mean it that way, then by all means, explain what you do mean. If you can do so in a way that doesn't entail redefining terms to suit your argument, that is.

I will say it again: If you want people to take your wild statements seriously, use precise language. Don't redefine terms to suit your convenience. If you want to say "you're not really showing that you give a fuck if you don't physically show up", then say that. Then, people will have a chance to disagree with what you're actually saying, instead of dealing with a canard like "blogging and emailing don't count as giving a fuck."

sroibosvert: I'm not defending keyboard activists. I'm calling unSane out on his/her insistence on confrontationally redefining the terms of the discussion. S/he seems to want to insist that a certain term means something it doesn't. I know why it's being done -- unSane is into the politics of confrontation, s/he seems to belive that pissing people off gets things done. If that works, fine; in my experience, it usualy gets results ranging from 70 to 180 degrees off from what you want, depending on the strength and intransigence of the opposition, but hey, again, if it works 15% of the time I guess there's your intermittent reinforcement.
posted by lodurr at 1:01 PM on August 6, 2007


lodurr, woah! Go lecture a wall somewhere and ease up a bit. This began with Nelson expressing his sense of uselessness and culpability in the ongoing world raping machine that is American foreign policy at present. I read an earnest plea for commiseration and some meaningful outlet of protest, not a petty attack on the blog-o-chamber.

And on preview, who is it that's "into the politics of confrontation"? Are we trying to prove who gives the most fuck here? Because it's not really helping or even relating to the torture of the innocent or culpable, or the undermining of democracy or credibility, or whichever is the "surely this will..." of the day. But sure, let's squabble amongst ourselves while posterity is ruined in our name.
posted by kaspen at 1:19 PM on August 6, 2007


Great article by the way, horrendous treatment. To me the most interesting part was the description of in-fighting among the CIA, the haphazard and unprecedented establishment of their detention facilities, and the fear within the department that charges could be laid and that the course was not tenable. Tenet was a politician whose aim was to implement given objectives, not parse for feasibility or legality. The most shocking part to me was that they considered Vietnam's Operation Phoenix as a model, despite, by their own numbers, it's 97.5% innocent passerby capture rate.

If some within the agency thought charges could be laid, then let's see them laid! Is this something any citizen can bring to court, or only specific agencies can hold them to account? Let the prosecution and jailing of culpable government officials begin!
posted by kaspen at 1:35 PM on August 6, 2007


Sorry, semantic reframing just pisses me off. I don't give a crap who's side the reframer's on, and I have a tendency to turn it back at them.

(and: "...not wendell"?)

But as far as showing up is concerned, I think a European perspective might miss some American subtleties -- assuming what we're talking about is a European perspective. We have a lot of high-profile and memorable examples of people 'showing up' and making a difference that's positive. But we've probably got a lot more examples, most eminently forgettable, of peopel who 'showed up' and made a diff that was not so positive. We remember King's speech on the Mall, and Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and the like. We forget all the times some podunk consituency has assembled a strategic presence in the right place at the right time to pass, say, a dairy subsidy that ends up paying Carnation to sell formula to West Africans. How many of those did Karl Rove mastermind. (I know, none, but only because he doesn't give a crap about the small time stuff.)

Of course it's an error to assume that means protest is wortheless. But it does tend to demonstrate that mass tactics can be counter-productive. That's not my original bone, but as long as that bone is in front of me I will pick at it.

In any case, we are not likely to have mass protest in the US about anything our government is doing. It's just not the way things work in the US right now. The 'protest' that 'works' in America, right now, is virtual, and targets financial interests. People in the streets -- that's not liable to be effective unless it also means a monetary impact.

Unless we're stopping the government, of course, a la Czechoslovakia. But there's such a disparity in scale comparing the US versus Czechoslovakia that it's not even funny.
posted by lodurr at 1:51 PM on August 6, 2007


What a useless discussion here. Yes, of course angry blogging makes a difference. I've been doing it for years. And yes, it doesn't make enough of a difference, hence my comment about wondering how I could do more. (And free clue: arguing with each other on Metafilter isn't going to help much.)

I sort of like the idea of a sign in my yard. But living in the middle of San Francisco, I don't expect many of my neighbours will be much affected by it. They're just as powerlessly liberal as I am.
posted by Nelson at 1:58 PM on August 6, 2007


Even ignoring the horrific moral aspects of it, I really, really don't get the people who think that this is useful.

Do they honestly believe, for example, that a CIA torturer could not get, say, George W. Bush to confess to murdering Daniel Pearl?
posted by Flunkie at 2:51 PM on August 6, 2007


Interrogation != torture.

The assertion that torture is being used to produce actionable intelligence is false.
posted by rockhopper at 2:57 PM on August 6, 2007


The assertion that torture is being used to produce actionable intelligence is false.

Because you were there, right?
posted by bardic at 3:01 PM on August 6, 2007


I'm confused now. What are we using the torture for?
posted by Nelson at 3:13 PM on August 6, 2007


No, because torture does not produce actionable intelligence, as others have already stated.
posted by rockhopper at 3:14 PM on August 6, 2007


Locking up dirt-farmers for the rest of their lives when they're completely innocent is torture. Torture that is producing no worthwhile intelligence.

You don't get to have it both ways.
posted by bardic at 3:22 PM on August 6, 2007


Related thread.
posted by homunculus at 3:40 PM on August 6, 2007


OK, you think locking people up for sustained periods is torture. I hear you.
posted by rockhopper at 3:40 PM on August 6, 2007


If I locked you up and allowed you no contact with your family, forever, yeah, you'd probably call it torture. Call me crazy.
posted by bardic at 3:49 PM on August 6, 2007


(locked you up for something you didn't do, to be more precise)
posted by bardic at 3:52 PM on August 6, 2007


Screw the verbal fencing. We're deliberately inducing the sensation of drowning in helpless people. And holding them in sensory isolation. And putting them in little boxes for hours at a time. And forcing them to stand up for hours at a time. It's all torture, and the US government is employing it as a matter of policy.

I'm still confused; if the torture isn't to produce actionable intelligence, what is it we're doing it for?
posted by Nelson at 4:06 PM on August 6, 2007



I'm still confused; if the torture isn't to produce actionable intelligence, what is it we're doing it for?


In order to assuage our still-simmering anger over 9/11?
posted by Bromius at 4:25 PM on August 6, 2007


...inducing the sensation of drowning in helpless people. And holding them in sensory isolation. And putting them in little boxes for hours at a time. And forcing them to stand up for hours at a time. It's all torture, and the US government is employing it as a matter of policy

To me, these things create a sense of loss of control/no control over one's situation, but not torture. No one wants to go through that, certainly. But these techniques can break the will of a prisoner, and then the talking begins.
posted by rockhopper at 4:34 PM on August 6, 2007


Oh, rockhopper, OK. Guess you sleep better at night than I do.
posted by Nelson at 4:35 PM on August 6, 2007


rockhopper, do you have kids? If I jammed one of their heads into a dank bucket until they were vomiting and bleeding out their nose, even if I didn't kill them straight out, are you saying this wouldn't bother you at all?
posted by bardic at 4:46 PM on August 6, 2007


"But these techniques can break the will of a prisoner, and then the talking begins."

The point is that the talking will start to stop the torture, and eventually people just start making bullshit up to stop the torture.

Torture can end up producing the same kinds of wild goose chases that deliberate disinformation can. Distracting attention from where it is needed. This is elementary grade spy stuff here.
posted by Sukiari at 5:04 PM on August 6, 2007


bardic, I have children. Anything that happens to them, happens to me.

It's unclear to me what your point is. Am I supposed to put myself in KSM's parents' shoes?
posted by rockhopper at 5:05 PM on August 6, 2007


This discussion has been plenty civil IMO. What I'm trying to suss out is rockhopper's moral take on torture. In fact, we agree that torture is a bad idea, since you can get someone to say anything to make the torture stop. The Nazis were happy to torture, since they didn't give a damn what the "intelligence" was -- they simply had a hard-on for physical abuse.

If I'm reading him right, however, the new meme shift is "It isn't torture if it gives us actionable intelligence." Which is a really astounding claim, since I thought we'd agreed that torture is useless qua being torture. When I said "You can't have it both ways," I was trying to say that you can't say "Torture doesn't work" and then define torture away by saying that's only what we do to a person when it fails, as a method.

So basically, re-define torture based on its goal, not its methods. Torture doesn't work, amirite? But interrogation always does.

Himmler would be proud.

Me, I'm a sucker for old-timey moral bedrock -- good guys don't physically or mentally abuse people, even if you think they're bad guys, because a) it doesn't work and b) it's wrong, wrong, wrong.

Funny how a godless librul like me still thinks it's worth holding the moral high-ground at times.
posted by bardic at 5:08 PM on August 6, 2007


As for your children, you said that waterboarding isn't torture. I was suggesting that if I was to waterboard one of your children in front of you, you'd disagree. (As would that spineless wimp John McCain.)

As for "the talking begins," you've already admitted that torturing someone will make her say whatever she can to make the torture stop. So I don't see how this is a "goal," if the person is just talking to make the waterboarding/beating/starvation stop.
posted by bardic at 5:11 PM on August 6, 2007


(Sukiari beat me to it)
posted by bardic at 5:13 PM on August 6, 2007


bardic, thanks for the discussion. I'm going to stop here for now because I don't want another week off Metafilter.
posted by rockhopper at 5:15 PM on August 6, 2007


The velvet revolution in Romania still stands out in my memory as perhaps the most astounding thing I have ever seen on TV.

You're thinking of Czechoslovakia. Romania was where they shot the Ceauşescus to death after a kangaroo-court trial.
posted by oaf at 6:44 PM on August 6, 2007


rockhopper, yes doing a better job ... it was just a gentle reminder not to let things slip with a, for some reason, debatable issue at hand?

Now, the article ... excellent.

You know, there was a time when the very mention of torture would have brought a flurry of questions.

"Who? Where? WTF?"

None actually requiring an answer, as the entire notion was foreign.

Now debate as to the why and how is persistent.

The notion of human dignity and respect was tossed and tossing is all I can do.

As far as I can tell, what was decided was that any non human physical contact even if human induced that doesn't do damage requiring immediate medical attention, isn't torture.

Loud music, temperature and light are just environment happenings and not torture.

Stress positions and water boarding don't require physical contact per se, so escape the Bush realm of torture.

You have to sometimes guide manhandle a detainee prisoner, so striking, pushing, pulling, grabbing or prodding isn't torture, rather a job expectation.

When the rejectors of reason have left logic babbling like KSM, "we aren't the worst wretch", retch comes up in a fine final spew.

The other day I was watching the Gonzales testimony before the Senate Judiciary committee. The hearing was lame as expected but there is always an interesting tidbit.

When a list of banned procedures was presented it was almost all sexual stuff. They had taken the time to determine that threatening to cut someones balls off went too far.

The pricks contemplating this shit felt it hit too close to home, what?

I really didn't intend to comment in this thread, I mean what can really be said beyond ... fuckin' inanity!
posted by phoque at 7:10 PM on August 6, 2007


Phoque, I think you hit the nail on the head; the debate in the US has shifted to a bizarro world where we are wondering whether almost drowning someone or forcing them into cramped positions for hours on end is torture. The existence of the debate is itself immoral. We have become a nation of torturers and I feel ashamed. And powerless to stop it.
posted by Nelson at 7:22 PM on August 6, 2007


We have become a nation of torturers and I feel ashamed. And powerless to stop it.

This brings on that jaded feeling where you feel so drained that you can't be bothered to do anything because it won't work. I think it's similar to the feeling I'll have over the next two days. A massive heat wave is heading this way, and I don't have air conditioning. We're going to have temperatures reaching up to 95° (35 for you non-Americans), and heat indices of 105° (41).

When I'm not at work (which is air-conditioned), I will be able to do little but think about how hot it is, how much it sucks, and how there's nothing I can do but wait it out.
posted by oaf at 7:47 PM on August 6, 2007


One of the more disgusting varieties of Republican cognitive dissonance goes along these lines -- We live in a world of absolute good and evil, and any nation that harbors or abets evil-doers shall be smited.

And yet, these very same guys bend over backwards to defend torture every chance they can get. Even when they parse the term to mean something else.

Again, torture is wrong. That's what Nazis did, not what Americans should do.

So yeah, strange times. It'll be weird explaining to my grand-kids how America, despite its flaws, used to be looked up to around the world as a symbol of hope, freedom, and decency between roughly 1945 and 2003.
posted by bardic at 8:07 PM on August 6, 2007


It'll be weird explaining to my grand-kids how America, despite its flaws, used to be looked up to around the world as a symbol of hope, freedom, and decency between roughly 1945 and 2003.

We can get back there. It's a difficult climb, but within reach.
posted by oaf at 9:52 PM on August 6, 2007


rockhopper: But these techniques can break the will of a prisoner, and then the talking begins.

The subject of interrogation has come up lots of times on MeFi. So I think you could pretty easily find a few articles in the search result that would explain that "breaking the will" of a prisoner is typically not what a skilled interrogator wants to do.

What they want is to get that person's willing cooperation. The most effective interrogations -- in terms of getting useful, actionable intelligence -- are ones that proceed on the assumption that if you need to win the subject's confidence.

It works. But to other points up thread, it does not assuage guilt, because it entails presenting an empathetic face to the subject.
posted by lodurr at 6:05 AM on August 7, 2007


Again, torture is wrong. That's what Nazis did, not what Americans should do.

nitfilter: Depends on what you mean. Based on knowledge you've displayed in the past, I assume you don't equate "Nazis" with "German military interrogators". The Luftwaffe interrogators who worked in the prison camp system used much subtler methods.

But yeh, there was all manner of torture going on in the Nazi-run parts of the German state machinery. Most of it had nothing at all to do with getting information -- it was all about bolstering the sense of superiority and entitlement, as far as I can tell, much like the extensive torture scenes in 1984.

I think that comparison actually muddies the waters a bit in a forum like this, though. We might agree that's at least in part what's going on with American torture, but we have a strong [partly guerilla] PR apparatus at work here in the US to promote the idea that we do torture to get information. Witness your previous discussion, and the fact that we still have to point out that torture doesn't work -- and that professional interrogators, if they're good at what they do, all know that already.
posted by lodurr at 6:12 AM on August 7, 2007


Interview with the author.
posted by homunculus at 1:30 PM on August 8, 2007


It'll be weird explaining to my grand-kids how America, despite its flaws, used to be looked up to around the world as a symbol of hope, freedom, and decency between roughly 1945 and 2003.

You mean, despite the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, murdering Allende, supporting Pinochet, deposing Mossadegh, installing Reza Pahlevi, supporting Salvadoran death squads, busing riots, continued maltreatment of its indigenous population, Tuskegee Syphillis experiment, Kent State, Newark 1967, Panama 1990, Mississippi Burning, Paris Hilton, etc.

Let's face it all countries do terrible things in service of their own sordid agenda. The concept of American (or any other) exceptionalism is and has always been a myth, despite what you want to believe.
posted by psmealey at 3:31 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, in spite of all those things. It's a perception; it may not have as strong a basis in reality as we'd like, but that perception did exist in much of the world.

It's a different media age. We can't paper over the evidence of our sins as easily as we could in the past. In any case, there probably was never a major world power without at least as many sins to its credit, when compared to its level of influence. (Which is not offered as an excuse, but rather to point out that as bad as many of the things we did have been, we were [a] trying to do something we thought of as good, and [b] actually having a positive effect on many parts of the world, even as we did really bad stuff in all the places you cite.)
posted by lodurr at 5:46 AM on August 9, 2007


that perception did exist in much of the world

I think that was the mythology that they tried to feed us in grade school, but having lived abroad for a fair portion of my adult life, I don't know that that has ever been accurate.

It's likely that people actively hate the US more now than in recent times, but Europeans have long had a deep mistrust for US motives and actions, despite our pronunciations that everything we do is all for the greater good of democracy and the free market. Yes, the Marshall Plan was the right thing to do, but it was also a strategically necessary thing to do. Europe lay in ruins after WWII, and the only way to stave Soviet expansionism, and stoke our own economy (which was demilitarizing) was to act quickly to rebuild.

But as far as the rest of this goes, I have said the above many times before, and the mouth breathers accuse me of "hating America". I don't. I love this vast, fucked up country of ours. I love its mountains and deserts and beaches and lakes. I even love its (for the most part) open-minded and friendly people, and I love its music and contributions to the arts over the past 100 years.

As for the evil we've done in the world, I think mostly we need to own it and stop pretending that we're the shining city on the hill. That view is harmful and corrosive. It enables unjust wars to be supported (or ignored) and horrendous acts done in our name.
posted by psmealey at 6:43 AM on August 9, 2007


Yes, the Marshall Plan was the right thing to do, but it was also a strategically necessary thing to do.

Well, to be fair, I don't think Marshall or Truman ever hid that aspect of it. It's how I was taught about the Marshall Plan in high school: That it was something we did in our own interest, and that BOY DID IT PAY OFF.

Also don't disagree with your last para. I do think, though, that the mythology wasn't just internal -- a lot of people outside hewed to it, as well -- but the story was more complex than that. In the same community, and sometimes in the same people, you had both a deep mistrust of America and a longing to go there. It's like the beautiful stranger you lust after but don't trust (and for good reason).
posted by lodurr at 7:33 AM on August 9, 2007


Aside: With a tradition like the Marshall Plan, you would think we'd think more about the after-game...
posted by lodurr at 7:35 AM on August 9, 2007


Amen, lodurr.
posted by psmealey at 7:48 AM on August 9, 2007


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