Thursday, August 11, 2011

Torture always happens to Other people

Military History Quarterly looks at the history of torture, with an eye to its supposed extinction in the 19th century and its inglorious revival in the 20th.
The nature of war has come full circle since the early 17th century, from total war to gentlemanly clashes and, beginning around 1900, back again. Counterinsurgency and civil wars have become the norm, making it far more likely that combatants will be regarded as treasonous criminals rather than defeated soldiers. Both developments have resurrected operational torture, sometimes in forms not seen since ancient times. * * *

For two millennia, torture has generally been condoned only when applied to noncitizens (such as POWs and conquered civilian populations) or classes of people suspected of plotting against the state (including, at one time or another, rebels, insurgents, terrorists, or members of ethnic, religious, or socioeconomic minorities.)
And so it goes.

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