30 December 2007



Several years ago, before the 2004 U.S. election, I wrote about Guantanamo Bay, still for me the key symbol of the failure of American foreign and legal policy after the 9/11 attacks, although I have been encouraged that the country's courts and media have at least done some chipping away at the edges of its black hole.

A big issue this year has been allegations of government-endorsed torture by U.S. government personnel at Guantanamo and elsewhere. I think P.Z. Myers's take on the subject today is cogent:

When the U.S. government announces [its] support for torture, they aren't talking about intelligence gathering: they are simply saying "Fear us." They are taking the first step on the road to tyranny.

The real problem is that fear isn't a good tool to use in a democratic society. [...] Anyone who supports torture is a traitor to the democratic form of government...

This upcoming year will give Americans a chance, once again, to decide what kind of country they want to become, and whether that will be a different one, with Guantanamo and torture as a sad past to remember, not a poisonous legacy for the future.

Iraq, well, that's more complicated, isn't it?

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I hope Americans are given the chance to vote in a free and fair election; given the media's burying of upstart candidates, easily hacked voting machines etc.

I have read more than one blog (and not the tinfoil hat brigade) where the author is concerned that an "emergency" will be engineered, and the election "postponed."

Up until recently, such talk was considered paranoid and delusional, but I 'm not so sure it is any more.

John Meadows
We do spend a lot of time focusing on critisizing the States - rather naturally i suppose when it's the country we receive so much information about, but if you want to talk about the need for free and fair elections, have you not heard of Pakistan, China, Saudia Arabia, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Libya, Cuba...?
Sure, and the citizens of those countries have very little control over the horrible policies of their governments. The U.S., by contrast, remains a democracy, and its voters can look at the record of its government and decide whether they want their country to be more like those others, or less.