Tuesday, June 27, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Andrew Sullivan


Libertarian conservative author and political commentator.
Andrew Sullivan
We can and must deter terror; we can and must conduct surveillance; we can and must find terror cells and plotters; and we need to fight them aggressively in the battlefield abroad and prosecute them carefully under the law if they are citizens at home. But the zeal and arrogance of Bush and Cheney have done this at the expense of the heart and soul of Western jurisprudence and constitutional liberty. They must not get away with it. Our inheritance is too precious to squander in a fit of panic, sadism and hubris.
Sullivan quotes
Torture gives false information. And the worst scenarios that tortured detainees coughed up — many of them completely innocent, remember — may well have come to fuel US national security policy. And of course they also fueled more torture. Because once you hear of the existential plots confessed by one tortured prisoner, you need to torture more prisoners to get at the real truth. We do not know what actual intelligence they were getting, and Cheney has ensured that we will never know. But it is perfectly conceivable that the torture regime — combined with panic and paranoia — created an imaginationland of untruth and half-truth that has guided US policy for this entire war. It may well have led to the president being informed of any number of plots that never existed, and any number of threats that are pure imagination. And once torture has entered the system, you can never find out the real truth. You are lost in a vortex of lies and fears. In this vortex, the actual threats that we face may well be overlooked or ignored, as we chase false leads and pursue non-existent WMDs.
Sullivan
I like the pluralism of modernity; it doesn't threaten me or my faith. And if one's faith is dependent on being reinforced in every aspect of other people's lives, then it is a rather insecure faith, don't you think?




Sullivan Andrew quotes
When Bush says that Abu Ghraib was the work of a few, he forgot to mention that he was one of them.
Sullivan Andrew
Previous war-presidents have gathered opponents into their cabinets, reached out to estranged former allies, engaged in aggressive diplomacy to maximize effectiveness and rallied the whole country for the fight. What does this one do? Gets a bunch of right-wing "journalists" into the White House to spread some partisan talking points. What a fucking disgrace this man and his journalistic lackeys are.
Excuse my language. But I can't take this any longer. We're at war; and he's still playing Rove's game.
Andrew Sullivan quotes
To me, [Andrew Sullivan] looks increasingly like the Buchanan of the left. He is the master, and the prisoner, of the technology of sickly obsession: blogging–and the divine right of bloggers to exempt themselves from the interrogations of editors–is also a method of hounding.
Andrew Sullivan
What modernity requires is not that you cease living according to your faith, but that you accept that others may differ and that therefore politics requires a form of discourse that is reasonable and accessible to believer and non-believer alike. This religious restraint in politics is critical to the maintenance of liberal democracy.
Sullivan Andrew quotes
The decent people in this administration — mainly career military brass and Condi's circle — are finally pushing back against the war crimes of Cheney and Rumsfeld. But the Bush mojo is the same. They don't actually care about the effectiveness of their policies, just how they can be used as wedge issues. Last summer, Karl Rove was determined to use torture and Gitmo as his electoral path to retaining the Congress. He thought he could portray the Democrats as weak on terror. Of course, only cowards and failures use torture. And how many Democrats or Republicans could have made us more vulnerable to more terror than Bush has these past five years?
Sullivan
When you fuse Christianity with power, it isn't long before Christians start imposing the cross on others rather than taking it up for themselves.
Sullivan Andrew
In thinking about the costs of this war, and thinking about renewing it, we have to reconsider what it has done to America. It has turned the U.S. military into a force at ease with abuse of captives and civilians, occupying a Muslim nation. Some of this is surely due to the sheer hell of fighting an enemy you cannot see, surrounded by people you do not understand or trust, and being killed randomly in urban or desert insurgency conditions where friend and foe are close to indistinguishable, and where your buddies are killed on a regular basis by faceless cowards. You can certainly understand how soldiers grow completely numb in the face of abuse in those circumstances. Every "hajji" can seem like the enemy after a while. It requires men and women of almost saintly capabilities to keep their moral bearings among terrorists who massacre scores of innocents as a religious duty, among people whose differences are impossible for young troops to figure out in split-seconds. In such conditions, and as a consequences of grotesque under-manning, the breakdown in ethical discipline is no big surprise. But that doesn't make it any the less of a big deal.
Andrew Sullivan
In the last few years, we have seen the executive branch declare itself outside the law — in prosecuting a war on terror. The law against torture has been suspended. The balance between the executive and legislative branch has been dismissed by signing statements and the theory of the unitary executive. The executive has declared its right to suspend habeas corpus indefinitely, to tap anyone's phones without court warrants and to detain and torture anyone it decides is an "enemy combatant." In that sense, we have already left the realm of constitutional government in favor of a protectorate outside the law promising to keep us safe (but never from itself).
But this new move to create a de facto dictator for the financial markets, to invest a Treasury secretary with unprecedented powers to buy and sell at close to a trillion dollar level — with no oversight or accountability: this is a new collapse in democratic life and constitutional norms.




Andrew Sullivan quotes
First silence. Then denial. Then support of the insupportable. Then vilification of the dissenters. The pattern is as old as time.
Andrew Sullivan
The United States has managed to go to war for two centuries without the president authorizing and monitoring the torture of prisoners. The Bush administration's legalization of torture and withdrawal from Geneva is unique in American history. Yes, wars will lead to individuals committing war crimes in the heat of battle. Yes, it carries a horrifying logic. But an advance, pre-meditated decision by the president to engage in war crimes is new and unprecedented. Bush really is uniquely awful as a president in this respect: an indefensible war criminal, who has permanently stained the country he represents and betrayed the soldiers who expect decency and lawfulness in their commander-in-chief.
Sullivan quotes
Any president can start a war, and use the chaos of disorder that such a war creates as an indefinite argument for prolonging it. It's a war that keeps on giving. Failure means it's even more necessary to keep failing.
Sullivan Andrew
It is not an opinion that "enhanced interrogation techniques" are torture. It is a legal fact. And it is also a legal fact that the president is a war criminal.
Sullivan Andrew quotes
The occupation of Iraq is completely self-perpetuating: The worse things get the more we are obliged to stay. And the longer we stay the worse things get. Wonderful, no? Being trapped in Iraq, moreover, has clearly prevented us from tackling Iran with any traction. One argument commonly made for staying in Iraq makes no sense to me at all. It's McCain's "if we leave, they will follow us home." But if we stay, they can follow us home as well. And by staying, we have clearly created more of them to follow us. The second argument that fails to convince is that by leaving, we give al Qaeda a propaganda coup. Yes, we would, and it would be intellectually dishonest to deny that. Any argument for withdrawal needs to take that into account. But by staying and losing, we also give al Qaeda a propaganda coup. And by constantly giving al Qaeda an anti-imperial narrative, we also prevent Muslims and Arabs from recognizing them for what they are: not anti-imperial liberators but theo-fascists.
It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that if we want to win this long war, we have to leave Iraq. Sooner rather than later.
Andrew Sullivan
That's what torture does: it creates a miasma of unknowing, about as dangerous a situation in wartime as one can imagine. This hideous fate was made possible by an inexperienced president with a fundamentalist psyche and a paranoid and power-hungry vice-president who decided to embrace "the dark side" almost as soon as the second tower fell, and who is still trying to avenge Nixon. Until they are both gone from office, we are in grave danger — the kind of danger that only torturers and fantasists and a security strategy based on coerced evidence can conjure up.
Andrew Sullivan quotes
Today's age of politicized and intolerant Christianism seems to me to be one of those moments when Christianity has estranged itself most thoroughly from the priorities and spirit of its founder. But this will pass. Christianity will survive Christianism. Some true followers of Jesus will recover their faith from Caesar's grip at some point.
Andrew Sullivan
Torture was necessary to maintain slavery. It was integral to slavery. You cannot have slavery without some torture or the threat of torture; and you cannot have torture without slavery. You cannot imprison a free man for ever unless you have broken him; and you can only forcibly break a man's soul by torturing it out of him. Slavery dehumanizes; torture dehumanizes in exactly the same way. The torture of human beings who have no freedom and no recourse to the courts is slavery.
Sullivan Andrew
At home, the public has come to accept torture as a legitimate instrument of government, something that the Founding Fathers would have been aghast at. We have come to accept that the president is not bound by habeas corpus, if he decides he isn't. He can sign laws and say they don't apply to him. We know that an American citizen can be detained for years without charges and tortured and abused — and then critical evidence of his torture will be "lost." We have come to accept our phones being tapped without a warrant and without our even knowing about it. These huge surrenders of liberty have occurred without much public outcry. When the next major terrorist attack comes, the question will simply be how much liberty Americans have left. That is a victory al Qaeda could not have achieved by force of arms. It is something they have achieved with our witting and conscious help.


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