Perhaps if the U. of Texas law school had not turned down W’s application back when, we might not be watching the trashing of the rule of law by his administration both at home and abroad. Guantanamo is a legal travesty that only a corrupt legal adviser — now our Attorney General– could have recommended — a legal atrocity equivalent to the worst of legal abuses committed during the 20th Century by totalitarian and authoritarian regimes.

Torture, along with slavery, is one of the two human rights that is non-derogable, i.e. allows no exceptions. One of my former philosophy colleagues at CCNY once put forth the in-your-face proposal that torture might be justified to locate a nuclear weapon set to explode in a major city. I had heard that he had eschewed that proposition, but now learn that he has revived it to justify extracting information from (alleged) terrorists:

Yes, we have some right wing philosophers who will recommend almost anything as a rational proposal in this or that situation. Ordinarily the legal system (as did Aristotle) sometimes, if rarely, recognizes exceptions to general rules or principles. And I suppose this proposal is intended to be one of those. But think of its implications. A nation that claims to be a model of democracy now recommending torture, let alone aggressive wars in violation of hundreds of years of just war standards developed over the centuries precisely to deter aggressors from using their military might to abuse lesser powers and to kill people in order to reap financial rewards? Yes, it is clear to any who take a hard look that it was domination of the oil supplies in the Middle East that inspired Bush and Blair (conned by Cheney, the real make out artist in the background) to attack Iraq. This is an old game over there and it is deeply resented by its long-term victims. Democracy for Bush, Blair, and Cheney looks to involve grabbing the assets of others. And people don’t ordinarily like to be robbed — they resist robbers.

The term, “robber baron,” was applied in the late 19th century to the corporate robbers of that era:

One hears from his former teachers that Bush II favored revoking the New Deal which had come into existence to clean up the mess created by the robber barons’ extraordinary greed — the Great Depression of 1929 and the years following more or less up to the beginning of WW2. It very much looks as though our present advocate of such policies may well be leading us into the first major crash of the 21st. century. Those who are too dumb to assimilate the lessons of history are all too likely to bring on the worst. Let us hope not, but . . . !

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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