Saturday, May 02, 2009

Ronald Reagan: Hard Left Ideologue

From Glenn Greenwald's post yesterday at Salon - "Ronald Reagan: vengeful, score-settling, Hard Left ideologue":

Ronald Reagan, May 20, 1988, transmitting the Convention Against Torture to the Senate for ratification:

The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention . It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called "universal jurisdiction." Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.

Convention Against Torture, signed and championed by Ronald Reagan, Article II/IV:

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. . . Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law.
The views that Ronald Reagan not only advocated, but signed a treaty compelling the U.S. to adhere to, are ones that are now -- in the view of our dominant media narrative -- the hallmarks of The Hard Left: torture is never justified; there are "no exceptional circumstances" justifying it; it must be declared to be a serious criminal offense ; and -- most of all -- the U.S., as Ronald Regan put it, "is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution." Reagan's explicit view that the concept of "universal jurisdiction" permits signatory nations (such as Spain) to prosecute torturers from other countries (such as the U.S.) is now considered so fringe that it's almost impossible to find someone in mainstream American debates willing to advocate it. . . .

It's literally true that if you say today verbatim what Ronald Reagan said in 1988 about torture and the need to prosecute those who do it, then you are immediately and by definition a rabid score-settler from the Hard Left who is unfit to be trusted with national security decisions. Conversely, the views that Reagan vehemently rejected by words and by treaty -- that torture can be justified in some circumstances; that torturers should be shielded from prosecution; that other countries have no right to prosecute the torturers from other countries under "universal jurisdiction" -- are now not merely acceptable, but are required views in order to be not only a conservative, but to be a centrist. That's how severely the political spectrum and our elite consensus on these questions have shifted -- descended -- even from the time of the right-wing Reagan era when American exceptionalism and military aggression thrived.


Liam said...


doesn't the Reagan/Che look sorta like the Geiko Caveman?

cowboyangel said...

You're right. I didn't even catch that.