American Foreign Policy

Most countries don’t. Because what we did was stupid.

Oh, nonsense. America is more villainous than many other countries; most countries haven’t even bothered to build the kinds of military and other resources necessary to match us that way.

:rolleyes: Iraq didn’t “try to kill us”, that was a war of pure conquest and malice on our part. And we’ve left them in ruins and demanded they pay us for the privilege of being bombed and tortured and slaughtered. And the “reconstruction” consisted primarily of funneling government money into Republican-tied businesses while doing nothing useful. As for Afghanistan, we haven’t accomplished anything there but sit around while torturing and killing people nearly at random.

And of course we train and support worldwide torturers, terrorists, death squads and dictators.

The Convention Against Torture states in Article 12: "Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction. The US is a party to that treaty.

President Obama in 2009 said waterboarding is torture: “I believe that waterboarding was torture and, whatever legal rationals were used, it was a mistake.”

Whether, you, me, or anyone else believes waterboarding is torture, the US President does.

But, also in 2009, President Obama refused to prosecute the torturers: “In releasing these [enhanced interrogation/torture] memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that** they will not be subject to prosecution**,” the president said. Of course, the CAT also covers that in Article 2 (“An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.”).

Clear violation of the CAT by Obama (beyond the acts themselves committed under Bush). The US Executive believes waterboarding is torture, the US Executive is not going to investigate. The CAT is not US law however. I’m doubting those Articles are self-executing. But still, if anyone is looking for justice for those acts, it’s clearly not coming from the US. If you think it is torture, then you should really investigate. It’s bad foreign policy to condemn it, but do nothing about it. That’s weak.

Nation states are amoral by necessity.

You could end torture, supporting dictators and starting wars ,for a starter. How moral is that ?

Someone actually linked the report (CIA report?) that evaluates the effectiveness of torture once. What it actually said is that torture is of no greater use for extracting information than basic interrogation techniques, for the grand majority of suspects. But regardless of any technique used, everything a hostile tells you is just as likely to be a lie.

It said no more and no less than that, as regards its efficacy. It is only useful against a minority of suspects, who otherwise will say nothing, and once induced to talk, they will be no more honest in their responses than using any other technique. It did recommend against the use of torture, but not due to it being worthless, but for being sufficiently minimally useful that the morality or bad press from it made it not necessarily worth the hassle.

Of course, if you don’t care about morality or bad press…

So when someone goes into your house and kills your dog and sets the place on fire, if they help you pick through the rubble for your photo albums, they’re good?

Germany sank a few boats, if I recall, but didn’t actually attack civilians and kill them en masse the way Bush did to Iraq.

Japan attacked a military target. Right or wrong, hardly an attempt to kill you. I don’t care to look up how many Vietnamese civilians the US killed because I’m already in a shitty mood.

Iraq did not attack the United States, the United States attacked Iraq.

Afghanistan did not attack the United States, the United States attacked Afghanistan.

Also, torture.

I get the feeling Curtis is a kid staring into a snowglobe with the Statue of Liberty in it and making up intricate stories with no basis in reality.

I agree that the US has done much wrong, but it should be pointed out Germany did kill a bunch of civilians en masse. Millions of them, killed in a very agonizing way.

Bush was evil and incompetent, but not Hitler evil.

Again it should be pointed out Japan’s war crimes in WWII were extremely grievous. I don’t think mass rape by the US armed forces and death marches ever appeared in US middle east war plans.

Not Americans. Curtis said “they tried to kill us”.

Yes yes. See above.

F___d up by signing it, right?

The last part points out the silliness of it. “Laws” without enforcement mechanisms (or, that are on their face not capable of being enforced) are meaningless preening. And how could anyone, ever, enforce an obligation to guarantee that everyone, everywhere would have adequate resources or sufficient “well being?” Who defines those? Ad nauseum.

Other developed countries have universal healthcare access, and social safety nets with higher happiness and health levels. Why can’t the US manage it?

The part I was mocking purports to guarantee more than that:

This can’t be taken seriously or everyone would quit tomorrow (and we’d have time for endless litigation over what “well-being” means – I’d be first in line to argue it means “the government” will guarantee me whatever equivalent of hookers and blow floats my boat, else my “well being” is denied.

Jesus figured it out 2.000 years ago – “the poor you will always have with you.” That’s both axiomatic statistically (there’s always going to be a bottom 1/4, and they’re always going to be somewhat to very unhappy about their relative status) and inherent in unequal distribution of human talents. Anyone who thinks they are going to guarantee eradication of poverty and equality of economic outcomes immediately identifies himself as a naif at best, a fool at worst. I think the drafters of that Universal Declaration were a little of both.

I meant not just before the declaration of war but during the war in general where the Japanese, Germans, and so on hardly did much to endear them to us.

Then you should have said that they hardly did anything to endear themselves to you. I didn’t know you were heavily, heavily exaggerating.

And then there’s all the actual interrogation professionals, who regard it as outright destructive; it ruins a subject for further interrogation. What you are describing sounds like a fairly standard right wing style whitewash; they can’t come up with any positive arguments or evidence to support their position, so they go with the old “everybody and everything is just as bad as us” routine. The Republicans and their supporters do it all the time.

And why would you trust a bunch of torturers about the effectiveness of torture?

What’s the enforcement mechanism of the 2nd Amendment? The Supreme Court, yes?

Whether you like it or not, treaties entered into by the Federal government become the law of the land. We are constitutionally obligated to comply with the Univeral Declaration of Human Rights, just as we are constitutionally obligated to do things like only allowing the president to be voted into office by the public or to only search a person’s house if a warrant has been issued. If you have no particular issue with the optionality of the Law of the Land, then by all means, go ahead and argue that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights doesn’t matter.

I seem to recall that the Declaration of Independence had a bit of text about “all men being equal”. That wasn’t actually true for another two hundred years (and still doesn’t include children), but it was a driving aim, and something which likely influenced many decisions of the Supreme Court, helping us to get to where we are today. That’s not to say that the UDHR is an enviable document, nor that it should have been signed, just that it isn’t a nothing document. If it isn’t influencing our national policy, then the Supreme Court is not doing its job.

Tell that to Norway.

Given that we do not know how often torture has been used, nor how effective it was, and no one can legally admit to having done it, the question of its efficacy is moot. There is circumstantial evidence that it was an effective tool for Israel, but that is circumstantial. Ultimately, I’ve looked for any actual data, and have found none. I am sure that you have expended far less effort than I have to find data.

Ahah, apparently when we signed it, we did not sign it as a treaty. My post was in error.

Technically, Germany declared war on us, shortly after Pearl Harbor.

Something being a “military target” doesn’t negate the fact that they attacked us and “tried to kill us.”

No argument there.

True, to certain level. But Afghanistan was complacently hosting the organization that did, and certainly wasn’t (capable of?) taking action to do something about it. Not that I’m 100% onboard with the war in Afghanistan, but our justifications were certainly much more concrete than with Iraq. Now our intentions…gut feelings tell me a certain pipeline and geopolitical strategy were heavy factors.

It’s a tough case to make that the United States is a moral force in the world. Certainly there are a number of things already mentioned is this discussion that undermine our morality. On the discussion of aid, yes the United States is far and away the largest benefactor in terms of international aid. That being said, we are also falling short here on another UN commitment we signed onto in terms of .7% of GDP dedicated to aid (see UN Millennium Goals).

If I had to some it up, like virtually all governments in the world we act in our own interest. I believe we have good intentions and we are moral when it suits us. Usually when there is money on the table, we are going to throw our weight into the struggle to get it. My gut feeling isn’t that the US as a people is amoral, it’s that the wealthy elite that run this country want to stay wealthy, elite, and running this country.